Community Engagement Through STEM Education

Current Projects

All the projects below have been implemented over the period 2012-2013.

Attracting Girls to the STEM Fields

The School of Engineering has been recently awarded two education outreach grants from USA-based organizations.

CSSThe first one is a US$12,500 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Control Systems Society Outreach Grant to develop the project “Putting Control Engineering in Middle School Girls' Futures”. The project will be implemented in partnership with St Michael's Collegiate School. The project aims to develop educational programs to significantly increase the number of middle school girls who have a working knowledge of the fundamentals of Control Engineering as they apply to modern engineering and technological devices, ranging from airplanes, boats, rockets, roller‐coasters, submarines, and terrestrial vehicles.

SPIEThe second one is a US$3,150 SPIE Education Outreach Grant to develop the project "Putting Optics and Photonics Engineering in Australian Middle School Girls' Futures". This is also a project to be developed in partnership with St Michael's Collegiate School. This project aims to significantly increase the number of middle school girls who have a working knowledge of the fundamentals of Optics and Photonics Engineering as they apply to modern engineering and technological devices. The role of Optics and Photonics concepts in Food and Sports Science, and Biomedical Engineering will be explored as well. Note that SPIE is the international Society for Advancing Optics and Photonics.


Engaging Families in Low SES Communities Through STEM Programs

The School of Engineering has received a 2011 UTAS Community Engagement Grant to the value of $8,000 to implement the project “Engaging Families in Low SES Communities in Hands-on Learning: Enabling Social Cohesion and Inclusion through an Exciting Science Program”. This project will be implemented in partnership with The Smith Family (TSF). The School of Engineering and TSF will join forces to pilot a state-wide social inclusion strategy that seeks to strengthen the role of parents and guardians of primary-aged children as families learn together.

Parents and children from eight primary schools in four communities around the state will take part in the project, namely, in Waratah/Wynyard and Burnie in the North-West; Mayfield and Rocherlea in the North; Bridgewater, Gagebrook, and Claremont in the South. The School of Engineering-TSF partnership will be built around the design, delivery and evaluation of an engaging research-based education, outreach, and pathway planning program focused on interactive and motivational STEM content (linked to the Australian Curriculum) that builds on TSF Family Learning Clubs model and community engagement framework.

The project team will run a minimum of four 90 minute hands-on STEM sessions per school, with three sessions run at schools and a fourth session run at the UTAS local campus (Cradle Coast, Newnham, and Sandy Bay). Thus, a minimum of 32 sessions will be run state-wide. We anticipate that a typical session will include up to 20 participants including students from grades 3-6 and parents. As part of this project, children and parents will be able to visit the local UTAS campus to have a positive experience of a new learning environment that may serve to expand their knowledge of potential educational and career pathways. Sessions will offer a fun, relaxed, and informal space where families will work together to help improve students’ social and educational development and to help parents to better engage with their children’s learning with a focus on STEM activities.

Supported by TasmaniaIn December 2011, the School of Engineering received a 2012 Inspiring Australia “Ignite your Imagination” grant to the value of $2,000 to implement the project “Engaging Families in Low SES Communities in Exciting Hands‐on Science Learning”.

This project will be implemented in partnership with the Community Development Division at the Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet. This partnership will put together a number of after-school-hours and/or weekend “Family Science” events in the North and North-West of the state. These events will seek to strengthen the role of parents and guardians in the education of their primary-aged children as families learn together and engage with the STEM fields in fun, informal, and relaxed environments.

As part of this series of family events, children and parents will also be able to visit the local UTAS campus to have a positive experience of a new learning environment that may serve to expand their knowledge of potential educational and career pathways in the STEM fields.