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By Holly Stemm 27 March 2023 3 min read

"This could change the course of their lives!"

That's what teacher Sofie Rodda said when she heard about STEM Together Future Shapers. And she's not alone. Teachers across Australia are getting excited about this innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) recognition program. It's part of our new education and outreach initiative STEM Together.

STEM Together Future Shapers is not your typical education program, and it's generating buzz for all the right reasons. The program inspires and empowers young women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, students from regional or lower opportunity areas, and those outside of cities to engage in STEM and develop 21st century skills. These skills, like critical thinking and problem solving, will set them up to contribute towards solving some of our biggest challenges.

Here are three reasons teachers are getting excited about the STEM Together Future Shapers program (and why you should too).

1. It opens doors

At Australia's national science agency, we work on solving the country’s greatest challenges. It’s safe to say we’re familiar with problem solving.

We know problems are best tackled from a range of diverse perspectives. To make sure our future is in the best hands, we need to more young women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and students from regional or lower opportunity areas, to engage in STEM.

STEM Together gives these students opportunities to be inspired by real-world STEM and build transferable ‘21st century’ skills like curiosity, critical thinking, and innovation. A dynamic skillset for handling life’s dynamic problems.

We do this by facilitating student group activities using our cutting-edge science and by giving educators strategies to feel confident in teaching these subjects. Our Future Shapers program is another significant opportunity for both teachers and students.

Sofie teaches at a regional school on NSW’s Sapphire Coast. She knows how programs like this can have an impact for students like hers.

“These students don’t live in the city, so they don’t have these resources at their fingertips. It’s nice to broaden their ideas, and let them know there’s heaps more out there,” she said.

Teacher, Sofie Rodda (left) gets up close to a 3D printed PhenoMobile at a STEM Together excursion

2. It isn’t a regular prize up for grabs

If you could design an experience to take your interest in STEM further, what would you do?

That’s what STEM Together Future Shapers is offering 30 students and supporters. Depending on what the nominee wants to work towards, this could mean:

  • taking a trip in Australia to see their area of interest in action
  • meeting like-minded people at STEM camps or events
  • getting face-to-face time with the experts at the cutting-edge of STEM
  • choosing their own equipment to keep them exploring.

Our Future Shapers program isn't necessarily just for the kids at the top of the class. It’s great if they’re passionate about a subject, but it’s also for those who have an inkling of interest in STEM that could be drawn out with a little help.

You’d be surprised by how STEM can be applied to an experience, even for those who don’t see science or maths as their favourite subjects.

For example, a musical student could choose to meet experts to make music using artificial intelligence, like we covered in our podcast, Everyday AI. Or we could give them the technology to create their own tunes at home. Or fly them to a STEM camp to meet other like-minded kids. The possibilities are endless.

Students experiment with materials to maximise the brightness of solar lights at a STEM Together group activity.

3. It’s not just for the students

Future Shapers recognises those who are shaping the futures of our young people.

Like students, you can also nominate supporters (or self-nominate) to design their own prize. This way, they can continue to inspire the next generation.

If you know a teacher, an elder, a parent, a STEM professional or another community member who is helping one or more Year 5-10 students from these groups to build their STEM or 21st century skills, we want to hear about them. Nominations close on 19 April 2023.

STEM Together is powered by CSIRO and BHP Foundation.

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