Leader of the Government in the Senate Senator Eric Abetz today launched the Questacon Invention Convention in Hobart, as part of a national Initiative designed to build students’ interests in pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as study options and future careers.
Students self-nominated to participate in the three-day Invention Convention at the Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart after undertaking a Questacon Smart Skills workshop held throughout Tasmanian secondary schools in March.
Senator Abetz said the Invention Convention helped the students make stronger connections between STEM and industry by having them work with local industry and entrepreneurs such as Simon Williams who designs and manufactures electric bicycles, Dr Claire D'Este of CSIRO who is developing cloud based robotic systems for agriculture and Andrew Dickinson a design industry professional from Indriva and Startup Tasmania Inc.
“This Invention Convention highlights the effectiveness of collaborative partnerships between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the scientific community partners from the research agencies and industry,” said Senator Abetz.
The Invention Convention is delivered as part of the Questacon Smart Skills Initiative.
Students from more than twenty schools around Tasmania including St Mary’s College, The Friend’s School, Fahan School, Mt Carmel College, New Town High School, Burnie High School, Exeter High School, Huonville High School, Taroona High School, took part in the initiative.
Local mentors facilitate Invention Convention activities designed to build skills in entrepreneurship and encourage creative thinking and problem solving. Supporting Partner, IP Australia, delivered sessions on intellectual property awareness.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science, Karen Andrews said the Questacon Smart Skills Initiative was established in the last federal budget with $6.7 million over four years. Principal Partner, The Ian Potter Foundation has provided additional funding to encourage enquiring minds to explore, experience, and dream the ideas that might be tomorrow’s reality.
“The Initiative’s goals included contributing to Australia’s future by inspiring budding innovators and technologists as well as encouraging creative thinking and STEM skills in young people.
“Australia’s future as a knowledge economy depends on emerging generations being captivated and engaged by the foundation skills in science, technology, engineering and maths from an early age,” Mrs Andrews said.
“Around three-quarters of our fastest growing occupations require STEM skills and programmes like the Questacon Smart Skills Initiative will help to support the next generation of Australian scientists and researchers by nurturing talent and scientific interest in our schools.”
Senator Abetz said STEM jobs and occupations are in high demand; provide rewarding employment opportunities and exciting career paths.
“That is why I am delighted to lend my support to this initiative and welcome its presence in Tasmania which encourages young people to engage in and consider their futures in the STEM sector,” Senator Abetz said.
The next Invention Conventions will be held in Wollongong in July and Bendigo in September, culminating in a national Invention Convention in January 2016.
The Australian Government is providing $6.75 million over four years for the Smart Skills Initiative with the Ian Potter Foundation awarding $7.8 million to Questacon over five years to deliver further programmes and activities under the Initiative. Corporate citizenry from other groups and partnerships has further added to funding for this.