Students take top spot in national STEM challenge

7 August 2019|Community News| Off Comments off on Students take top spot in national STEM challenge|

THE concept for a firefighting drone – the “Firefly” – has seen Bowen Road Primary School grade four and five students win a national STEM and entrepreneurial competition as part of the NBN ‘STEMpreneur’ initiative.

The initiative, undertaken in partnership with the Australian Business Council Network (ABCN), draws on a future of work focus to deliver a virtual education program to eight participating schools across Australia.

The program combines face-to-face workshops and virtual mentoring to coach students as they develop a business idea to help overcome a challenge in their community using their STEM and entrepreneurial skills.

The initiative culminated in students pitching their business ideas to a panel of STEM experts, with Bowen Road Primary School presenting a winning idea of a remote sensing drone that assists firefighters by improving visibility in emergency situations.

The students developed the idea after speaking with Independent Member for Clark Andrew Wilkie to help identify problems in the community – one of which was the large number of bushfires that occurred in Tasmania last summer.

Students from 4/5 Gardiner developed the solution of a “Firefly Drone” that could withstand the intense heat of a bushfire, locating the hottest part and dropping a personal locator beacon to assist the Tasmanian Fire Service.

Bowen Road Primary School principal Sue Richardson said the school was “delighted” to participate in the initiative.

“We have watched our students develop STEM and entrepreneurial skills that will help them become job ready for the future workforce,” she said.

“It can sometimes be difficult to bring opportunities in STEM to life in the classroom, but having a practical challenge has worked so well, helping our students engage with STEM and with experts in the field.”

Bowen Road Primary School was the only Tasmanian school and the sole grade 4/5 class – with all other participants being a grade 5/6 class.

NBN local manager Tasmania Russell Kelly said the world of work was set to transform in the next 10 years, so it was vital that Tasmanian students had access to infrastructure such as fast broadband to help them develop STEM and entrepreneurial skills no matter where they lived.

“We’re proud to be equipping the business leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow with the infrastructure that helps them develop in-demand skills and stay ahead in a competitive market,” he said.

“It’s been so inspiring to work with ABCN and schools like Bowen Road Primary School, where we have the opportunity to see students grow and develop through the challenge.”

ABCN chief executive officer Allegra Spender said they knew the workforce was changing rapidly and it was vital for them to be partnering with businesses like NBN Co to help bring practical real-world learning experiences to Australian students.

“Connectivity allows us to do that, wherever the school is located,” she said.

“Creating STEM learning opportunities is particularly important in higher needs school communities where we know it can be more challenging for students to pursue these pathways.

“It’s been especially rewarding to see these students engaging passionately with STEM and entrepreneurship to solve real problems facing their communities.”

Caption: Bowen Road Primary School students, from left, Tekye Williams (grade five), Gabriel Lontos (grade four) and Isabella Shelton (grade four).

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