Students at Hymba Yumba Independent School, Springfield, watch as a rocket launches on their school oval. Photo: Ebony Graveur
Students at Hymba Yumba Independent School, Springfield, watch as a rocket launches on their school oval. Photo: Ebony Graveur

Rockets launch school girls’ interest in engineering

THOUGH she hadn’t thought of it before, Sienna Fuller-Chapman thinks she might like to work as an engineer when she grows up.

The year nine student, along with her cohort, is one of the students involved in the first of 14 workshops set to unpack exactly what happens to make rockets work.

Sienna said she hadn’t been interested in engineering before participating in the workshop.

“Hearing about this today has given me a bit more of an idea of what I can do when I go to university – the different engineering options,” Sienna said.

“It’s very fun to learn how to put all this stuff together – it’s interesting and I might want to do this one day.”

Izara Bonner and Sienna Fuller-Chapman. Photo: Ebony Graveur
Izara Bonner and Sienna Fuller-Chapman. Photo: Ebony Graveur

The national Stellar STEM program launched on Monday at Hymba Yumba independent School and was designed to spark students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The program, which involves giving participants hands-on experience firing a rocket engine, is run by PFi Aerospace, an Australian owned company based at Richlands.

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PFi Aerospace General Manager Megan Badger is one of three women presenting the workshops and is working alongside Dr Kaye Spark (PhD soil science, environmental science, research scientist) and mechanical engineer Harriet Angus.

Ms Badger said the aim of the workshops was to “be a launch pad” for more female students to become involved in STEM.

Students at Hymba Yumba independent School, Springfield, watch as a rocket launches on their school oval. Photo: Ebony Graveur
Students at Hymba Yumba independent School, Springfield, watch as a rocket launches on their school oval. Photo: Ebony Graveur

“Studies show fewer students, particularly females, are taking up STEM, so we need to reverse this trend because the children who are getting involved in STEM could potentially be our future engineers, technicians and pilots,” Ms Badger said.

“We want to build students’ confidence and interest, by showing them they don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand rockets.

“Ultimately, if we impact the life of one student and inspire them to make something incredible from their lives, I will be extremely happy.”

Students at Hymba Yumba independent School, Springfield, watch as a rocket launches on their school oval. Photo: Ebony Graveur
Students at Hymba Yumba independent School, Springfield, watch as a rocket launches on their school oval. Photo: Ebony Graveur

Hymba Yumba principal Peter Foster estimated half the school’s 280 students – also known as jarjums – were female.

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“The fact we will be staging the first of these workshops in Australia is wonderful,” Mr Foster said.

“We’re encouraging all our female jarjums to embrace and enjoy science in an intellectual and creative way (and) that is encouraging critical thinking through curiosity and experimentation.

“The workshop is great timing because we’ve recently moved into our new $3.5m STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) building, and it has become a real focal point for our jarjums.”

Other schools across Brisbane, Ipswich and Logan to participate in the program include Loganlea SHS; Everton Park SHS; Ipswich SHS; Marsden SHS; Mabel Park SHS; Sunnybank SHS; Woodridge SHS; Mitchelton SHS; Redbank Plains SHS; Bundamba State Secondary College; The Aboriginal and Islander independent Community School/The Murri School; Coorparoo Secondary College and Deception Bay SHS.

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Read more news by Ebony Graveur.