Stem Punks forging new frontiers

Published 5:00am 28 June 2022

Stem Punks forging new frontiers
Words by Jodie Powell

Thousands of children around the globe will get a taste of space travel thanks to an innovative Samford business.

The brainchild of STEM Punks, the Space Innovation Program gives participants the chance to apply new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills to design and create innovative solutions.

They learn from astronauts and space scientists and explore the challenges of designing space habitats and creating environments for physical and mental wellbeing.

Global launch

The five-day program takes participants through a series of challenges, equipping students with new knowledge and skills to build towards an innovative solution for space problems.

STEM Punks co-founder Michael Holmstrom says the Space Innovation Program launches with major events in Mackay, Dubai, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and at the Kennedy Space Centre in the United States this year, bringing together 300-400 students from schools in each location.

He says the idea is to give students an insight into the vast array of opportunities for working in STEM.

“I think kids should be kids, but it’s important to expose them to the opportunities that exist,” he says.

“By doing that early on, they can follow those pathways.

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“STEM education goes wrong when we just talk about coding and robots.

“It’s about teaching kids how to use these tools to solve problems – then you get diverse engagement as well - we get kids to be part of the journey and immersed in the process.”

STEM Punks co-founder Fiona Holmstrom agrees.

“We have been saying for years ‘get them excited with the problems they're going to solve’, instead of asking ‘what are you going to do, what are you going to be?’,” she explains.

“Kids don’t have that fear of failure that we have as adults.”

Hear from astronauts

Michael says the Space Innovation Program will also be available online, with astronauts pre-recording messages for students taking part.

Among them is Hawaii’s HiSEAS International MoonBase Alliance director Dr Michaela Musilova, who’s giving her time to the program free.

“STEM Punks Space 2101 program is based on industry-linked content providing relevant learning outcomes and pathways for future careers in STEM,” Dr Musilova says.

Equal opportunity

Michael says by taking Space 2101 online, they can reach regional and remote areas, giving everyone the same opportunity.

“By doing it online we can give students and teachers access to world-class experts.

“Teachers can be facilitators of the learning process – we provide the content and scaffolding around that.”

Fiona says STEM Punks facilitates links between industry and new talent through its suite of innovative education programs.

“We become the glue between industry and the education sector.

“Industry wants to engage with their future workforce, but have no idea how to engage – we do.”

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