Australia’s curious minds warm up a chilly winter camp

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Approximately 115 outstanding female students have attended a virtual winter camp to reunite with their mentors, engage in enriching activities and lectures, and share their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) projects.

For six months, students have worked with their STEM Mentors to develop a STEM project. Each student is given three minutes to explain their project to the wider group—in a format not dissimilar from the Three Minute Thesis program.

Astrophysicist and STEM Coach Clare Kenyon and her student Daisy first began fleshing out their project by discussing Daisy’s interest in knitting. From there, the project naturally wove into space exploration.

‘We had a look at different sources on knot theory and materials—particularly as they relate to development for use in different space environments such as spacewalks and launches,’ said Clare.

‘Daisy is knitting some patches from different materials and performing a few different tests to look at the material properties of the knitted fabrics. We then analyse how the patches fare within ‘space’ environmental constraints and concerns.’

‘Being part of the Curious Minds program and working with Daisy has been a fantastic experience. It has been truly humbling to be a part of the fostering and developing these amazing young women in STEM who will undoubtedly make a huge difference to the world,” said Clare.

Daisy presented her findings to at the Curious Minds East Coast Camp on 7 July.

Since 2015, over 500 girls from regional, rural and low socio-economic areas have taken part in Curious Minds. The program aims to ignite their passion for STEM and increase their confidence in the classroom. Approximately 90% of students in the program go on to study STEM at a university-level.

Curious Minds is an initiative funded by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. The program is delivered by the Australian Mathematics Trust and Australian Science Innovations and aims to ignite girls’ passion and participation in STEM. The Australian National University is the university partner.

Applications for the 2022-23 Curious Minds intake—for students and STEM Coaches—will open in September 2022. Sign up for our email newsletter to be notified when applications open.