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QUT Stem Camp

On the first week of the holidays, three CHAC students – Caelan, Belinda and I – participated in the QUT Vice-Chancellor’s STEM Camp for Year 11 students. The camp is dedicated to nurturing an appreciation for the STEM disciplines, and gave us an opportunity to make friends with the 160 like-minded students who attended from all parts of Queensland.

Each STEM camper was allocated one of ten projects, in which we performed investigations that were presented to other groups at the end of the week. My project was Pharmacy Zombie Busters. Our group was placed in a hypothetical situation where we were required to produce an effective vaccine against a zombie outbreak. This involved creating an intravenous (IV) injection with all necessary requirements to keep the injection completely sterile, including a Laminar Flow Hood, ethanol, lab coats and two pairs of gloves. We also created tablets using a tablet press machine, and tested these for factors such as uniformity, friability, hardness and disintegration. Finally, we created a ‘zombie repellent’ cream, and learnt how medical creams were made, and how to carefully mix creams to the perfect consistency. We were able to use high-tech equipment, and the project gave us an insight into the real-life job of a pharmacist.

During the week, QUT offered many other activities such as a movie night, a talent show, a street science show and a careers fair. We all had numerous opportunities to speak to QUT students, and listened to inspiring guest speakers about their stories. During the camp, we were encouraged to look towards the future, and be inspired to make change.

Overall, the week was fun, engaging, and educating, and I made many new like-minded friends. I learnt a lot about the opportunities relating to STEM, and the camp opened my eyes to so many different pathways and careers. I would recommend this program to any Year 11 students with a passion for STEM or Health disciplines, who would like to learn about all the future pathways available, or even those who would like to discover what university is really about.

Mia Forsingdal, Year 11

During the September Holidays, I was fortunate to be selected for the QUT Vice Chancellors’ STEM Camp. This was a week-long camp, filled with exciting activities, lectures and projects. There was a total of 10 projects and all 160 students were divided evenly into these projects. My allocated project was Water Solutions for a Safer Bhutan, which focused on mechanical and environmental engineering.

In Bhutan, due to glacier melting, rivers fill up with more and more water. This causes high amounts of stress on the natural dam walls, which could burst and cause an inland tsunami. Our task was to create a mechanism to drain water out of this glacial lake to reduce glacial lake outburst floods. To do this, we researched different pumping mechanisms to pump water out of the glacier lakes in order to keep the water at a safe level. Due to lack of electricity, these mechanisms had to be manually operated. We tested historical mechanisms, such as the Archimedes screw pump and rope pump. In the end, we decided a siphon would be the best option, as once started, it could keep pumping out water without man-power or electricity. This project took four days of learning, research and experimentation. On the last day, we were able to present our findings to guests and other groups. The project was not only beneficial to my learning but was extremely enjoyable and informative.

On top of that, QUT surprised us with other activities such as Trivia, a movie night, an entrepreneur challenge, STEM Camp’s got Talent and lectures. The theme for the Camp was STEM Stories, and many successful people came to talk to us about their STEM story and how they arrived where they are now. This was one of the highlights, as I was able to take in so much advice from people working in the fields I am looking to head into.

Despite six fewer days of holiday, the STEM Camp experience was well and truly worth it. It helped me open my mind to countless opportunities in STEM related fields. I made many new like-minded friends which made the whole experience more enjoyable. I would definitely encourage any Year 11 student in 2019 to apply for this camp, as it is one of the greatest experiences I’ve had yet.

Caelan Forsingdal, Year 11

During the first week of the holidays, I was given the opportunity to attend the QUT Vice-Chancellor’s STEM Camp. Over the course of five days, I was immersed in the STEM culture, given further insight into future career pathways, and worked alongside 159 like-minded students from across Queensland and Northern NSW.

The theme to this year’s camp was STEM Storytelling. Therefore, we heard from a variety of industry professionals, STEM ambassadors, successful entrepreneurs and Vice-Chancellor Margaret Sheil on how they have progressed to where they are, advice for future university students, and the challenges they faced along the way. We also had the opportunity to further explore what life looks like in university which was an invaluable experience.

I completed the project Enemy Release, which was centred around Ecology. Led by Associate Professor, Jennifer Firn, we investigated the Enemy Release Hypothesis which states that exotic plant species have a competitive advantage over native plant species because they are introduced without their specialist enemy and the prevalence of predation is greater in native than exotic species. To test this theory, each subgroup took photos of 100 leaves throughout the QUT botanic gardens, from both native and exotic plant species. Then, using ImageJ software, we analysed percentage herbivory area of the leaves relative to their size in order to draw conclusions from our data.

Furthermore, we were involved in a goal-setting workshop, put our innovation skills to the test in a shark tank challenge, and attended a showcase breakfast. We also learnt about the other nine projects which students investigated, watched a Street Science show, as well as had a movie night and talent show, making it an interesting and engaging opportunity. This experience has proved to be fast-paced, stimulating, and truly rewarding and I would definitely recommend it to anyone in Year 11 who is considering pursuing a career in STEM.

Belinda Miller, Year 11