Inspiring the next generation in STEM

Published 12:00pm 7 April 2022

Inspiring the next generation in STEM
Words by Jodie Powell

The key to engaging young people – particularly girls – in STEM is making it relevant, according to the inaugural Businesswoman of the Year at last year’s Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence and Innovation Awards.

Co-founder of world-leading STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education program STEM Punks Fiona Holmstrom says breaking down stereotypes and encouraging mentors will open up a world of opportunity for young people.

“The key is relevance, making STEM relevant to girls, because it’s not all about being in lab coats or sitting in front of a computer for 12 hours a day,” she says.

“So whatever children are into, make STEM about that – whether it’s augmented reality or virtual dress-making.

“It’s also important to make it accessible, to make STEM available and visible for children to see the possibilities and where a career in STEM can take them.

“You might take them through a workshop and at the end you can say ‘you’ve just solved a problem – that’s engineering’.”

Everyday applications

Inspiring the next generation in STEM

Fiona says engaging the next generation of STEM gurus is a big opportunity, with fields such as robotics making a difference in daily life.

“There’s a lot of jobs in robotics. These days you can operate an automated robot from thousands of kilometres away – the Rover on the moon has robotics.

“There’s everyday practical applications, like in restaurants robots come and serve your meals at your table.

“Robotics is used in car manufacturing, there’s applications in space and in agriculture as well, with automated drones flying around.

“It’s even used in tourism and surf lifesavers use drones in their patrols.”

Educating young people about what STEM is and what STEM can do for them is also important, Fiona says.

“Role models are vital, particularly for young girls.

“As (Children’s Defense Fund founder) Marian Edelman said, “you can’t be what you can’t see’ and girls are tied to that more so than boys.

“Quite a lot of the time people who are mentors are doing it on a voluntary basis – the more people we have like that, the better off everyone will be.”

Accessible education

Fiona is passionate about making STEM accessible to students in regional and rural areas, which are often left behind by a lack of funding and resources.

“People in a lower socioeconomic demographic and in rural areas often don’t have the shiny ‘toys’ that people in cities and higher socioeconomic areas have.

“We believe STEM is for everyone - everyone deserves those opportunities.”

Start preparing for this year’s business awards

The Moreton Bay Business and Innovation Awards are returning in 2022, with an earlier start date and additional categories for businesses and individuals to celebrate their achievements.

The awards are free to enter and nominations open on May 16 at 9am. They close on July 17 at 11.59pm.

Find more local business news here.

Share

Related Stories

Popular Stories

Old nurses' quarters more than just a building 
News / Local

Old nurses' quarters more than just a building 

The former nurses’ quarters building at Redcliffe Hospital is a place where memories were made and friendships forged for student nurses who lived there. The building, now known as West Block, is earmarked for demolition in mid-2024. Three nurses who still work at the hospital share their memories

Fighting cancer through art
News / Local

Fighting cancer through art

Mother-of-three Rachel Bernardo will open an art exhibition in Redcliffe next month to help raise awareness of bowel cancer and funding for research. ** FREE TO READ **

Putting safety first for 35 years
News / Local

Putting safety first for 35 years

Jenny Neate has been going to Bray Park State School for 35 years – and has no plans to stop. ** FREE TO READ **