24 March: STEM Girlpower Camp workshops

QUT’s Design Lab and The Cube has teamed up to host an exciting workshop program at QUT Gardens Point campus as part of the second annual STEM Girl Power Camp, coinciding with annual World Science Festival Brisbane (WSFB) .

Sixty regional high-achieving Year 10 girls and 10 teachers discovered the power of design in science, technology and enterprise innovation through three hands-on workshops exploring wearable technologies, STEAM Entrepreneurship and webcam-hacked microscopes.

The STEM Girl Power Camp is an important initiative of Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland to address the lower participation rates of girls in STEM subjects and careers.

This year, the Department of Education and Training – State Schools Performance partnered with Queensland Academies Science, Maths & Technology Campus (QASMT) to expand the program and encourage more STEM student and staff ambassadors, who returned to schools across Queensland to inspire others.

“After hearing from some of the biggest heroes in science at the WSFB, the girls relished the hands-on practical applications around the edges of the STEM disciplines and being exposed to the many possible dimensions of STEM careers,” QASMT manager and STEM Girl Power Camp creative director Dr Kathy Mackey said.

Program co-ordinators Natalie Wright (QUT Design Lab) and Jacina Leong (QUT The Cube) said they embraced the opportunity to provide such a diverse workshop program, revealing design’s critical role in STEM education. It also showcased the city campus and the varied opportunities available for regional girls to study at QUT.

Dr Rafael Gomez, QUT Design Lab co-leader in design fabrication and facilitator of the Wearable Tech for Sun Safety (Designing for the Aussie Sun) workshop, said it was important for the girls to visualise STEM careers beyond the image of the lone white lab coat.

“The experience in our J Block Fabrication Workshop highlighted the importance of research, prototyping and transdisciplinary teamwork in designing solutions to some of the world’s most wicked problems; including sun safety within the Australian environment,” he said.

The STEM Girl Power Camp workshops were also an opportunity for the QUT Design Lab to contribute to the International Council of Design’s (ico-D) 2017 World Design Day celebrations on behalf of the Design Institute of Australia Queensland Branch. This year’s theme ‘Start Young’ focuses on introducing design concepts to kids through educational workshops.

Natalie Wright, DIA Fellow and co-lead of the QUT Design Lab Design Education Platform, said the workshops showcased the importance of design as a framework for transformative student engagement and development of 21st century skills, critical to prepare our workforce of the future.

“The kids of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, so early awareness of design as an elemental methodology and field of professional practice is key,” Ms Wright said.

Professor Margaret Petty, Head of QUT’s School of Design, was impressed by the enthusiasm and input of the girls and teachers who participated in her STEAM Entrepreneurship workshop based on models taught at the MIT Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, which will be hosted at QUT from 26-31 March 2017.

“The QUT Design Lab Design Education Platform recognises the importance of real-world applications of design-led skills and mindsets as drivers for transdisciplinary challenges, and believes that such capabilities can transform education from primary school to professional development,” Professor Petty said.

“This inspiring collaboration with Queensland Academies and DET importantly connects with secondary educators and students to share our ideas for the future and learn from each other.”

The QUT Design Lab and QUT The Cube would like to thank Karen Hall and Karen Macintosh from DET- State Schools Performance; Dr Kathy Mackey from QASMT; Jaden Hastings and staff from QUT The Cube (Webcam Hacking workshop); and Dr Erica Mealy from University of the Sunshine Coast and the staff from the QUT J block workshop (Wearable Tech for Sun Safety workshop).

Media contact:

James Dillon, Creative Industries Faculty, 07 3138 3685, j1.dillon@qut.edu.au

QUT is part of a national collaborative group of five major Australian universities that form the ATN (Australian Technology Network of Universities).