Primary school students in Toowoomba and the Darling Downs recently took part in a pioneering STEM program designed to to address future skills shortages in critical manufacturing jobs.
The Additive Manufacturing and STEM 3D Printing Primary Schools Project was a collaboration between the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water, the Department of Education, the Queensland Manufacturing Institute and Makers Empire. Teachers learned how to use innovative maker-based pedagogies to teach 3D modelling, design thinking and design technologies in integrated ways across the curriculum.
The schools participating from across the Darling Downs and south-west in 2022 were Our Lady of the Southern Cross College (Dalby), Concordia Lutheran College (Toowoomba), Dalby South State School, Dirranbandi P-10 State School, Haden State School, Vale View State School, and Meringandan State School.
Queensland Minister for Manufacturing Glenn Butcher said the program, which is being rolled out in seven South West Queensland schools, will be critical to the continued success of Queensland’s booming manufacturing industry.
“Jobs shortages are top of mind for a lot of Queenslanders at the moment and we know a lot of these journeys start with education,” Mr Butcher said. “Finding creative ways to teach STEM to children will ensure we capture the next generation of problem solvers and will prevent a skills shortage that could affect important industries such as manufacturing. In order to cement our position as a world-leader in advanced manufacturing – creating good jobs and better services – Queensland needs to nurture the next generation now.”
As part of the program, teachers in the participating schools completed an industry site tour at Wagner Composite Fibre Technologies, a world-class manufacturing facility based in Toowoomba.
More recently, teachers and students participated in an ‘expo-style; problem solving day.
Minister for Education Grace Grace said the project aims to give teachers professional development opportunities, essential to helping them deliver the critical STEM subjects.
“On top of that, this project will also help students engage in that STEM curriculum and develop design-led thinking and problem solving skills,” Ms Grace said. “It’s wonderful to see teachers and students’ ongoing interest in this industry. Vale View State School, which is taking part in the program, received an Outstanding School STEM award at the 2022 Peter Doherty Awards for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, so I’m sure there are some budding industry experts there!”
Makers Empire co-founder Lap Leung said: “The Queensland Government and Queensland manufacturing industry are leading the way in partnered collaborations – this program involves two government departments, industry and state and private schools working together to address future skills shortages in advanced manufacturing. More and more Queensland students will now have developed STEM, design thinking and problem-solving skills.”
Queensland Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Shay Chalmers congratulated the participating schools.
“With a combination of amazing teachers and industry supported STEM education programs thriving in the region already, being able to supplement this with the Makers Empire program is going to take STEM education to the next level.”