BalCC sent three Middle School student representatives to the Girls in STEM conference held at Federation University recently.
Ballarat Tech School (BTS) is a high-tech science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning hub hosted by Federation University and is situated on the SMB Campus in Albert Street.
BTS will commence operation in 2018 and has local partnerships with fifteen local Secondary Schools, including BalCC.
BTS organised the STEM conference for the next generation of female scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians and designers to discover new technologies, be inspired by STEM-savvy women and consider how technology can change lives.
In 2018 BTS will offer opportunities to increase the STEM engagement girls have access to through mentoring and STEM days.
A highlight of the day was hearing from Tech School Ambassador and 2012 Australian of the Year Marita Cheng who's innovative robotic company "aubot" has improved the lives of many living with a disability. Their innovations have increased clients independence through remote global access. Marita's work on Aipoly, a sight App allows people to explore the world with sight effected clients refer to it as magic. Marita's connection to engineering was sparked through attending an Arduino workshop in high school but did not commence with gusto until university. Marita's initiative Robogals Global has provided experiences to thousands of girls to increase their exposure to Engineering globally.
Marita's presentation connected across the technology experienced in the workshops held on the day. Students had the opportunity to experience Virtual Reality with Casey from Dark Shadow Studio, NAO Humanoid Robot with Sam from The Brainary and Sphero programming workshops with the BTS team. These three technologies are used in Marita's work at aubot.
Over lunch the girls spoke with local STEM leaders about their pathway, career highlights, opportunities, skills and experiences. It is important that girls connect to female role models because "if you can't see it - you can't dream it" and with the STEM sector having gender imbalance the lunch-time exposure opened up the girls eyes to female researchers, teachers, scientists, engineers and programmers, enabling the girls to discuss the skills and capabilities needed for their career path.
To conclude the day students reflected on their experience with 68% choosing the word inspiring to explain their experience and 32% informed. 2/3 of the girls who attended were keen to do more in 2018 which demonstrated the impact of the experience. Other words listed by the girls to describe their day included; "eye-opening, new, exciting, fantastic, awesome, amazing and educational."