What happens when you get a bunch of energetic, smart, and curious students online with experts who love to share their passion for STEM?
Catch up with everything that happened at Curious Minds Summer Camp 2023 and find out!
The virtual camp, part one of the 2023/2024 Curious Minds program, was held online and across Australia in December 2023. Over 110 motivated participants logged in for 5 days of stimulating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics sessions. Participants were ecstatic to ‘learn for fun, not for a grade or under pressure’ and ‘work together to solve problems’.
A key element of the camp is engaging participants’ curiosity, through enriching workshops and sessions with experts. The sessions and topics were as varied as they were fun, including a popular experiment using chocolate biscuits and aerated chocolate bars to explore porosity and permeability!
The Summer Camp participants also
- learnt how to communicate in Merryn’s communications workshop
- discovered how to turn potatoes into bioplastic with Kathryn
- practiced the art of using Lego to tell a story
- tried to avoid burning at the stake as a witch while learning new communication skills
- faced the challenge of an escape room
As well as considering future career paths, they focused on solutions for the future as they
- learnt that bugs and bivalves can remove plastic from the environment
- found that UV light can cause microplastics to decay
- made sieves and found microplastic in beach sand using mini microscopes
- engineered solutions to the problem of plastic waste in the ocean
- discovered how Australians are turning plastic waste into a resource
Plus, they played games, made origami frogs, discussed books, created art online, and relaxed after a day of STEM with online yoga.
It was an opportunity to meet their STEM coach, whom they will work with and develop a project over the next 6 months. The participants are matched with dedicated STEM Coaches, based on a STEM discipline or career path they are interested in.
“During the Summer camp, I got to meet with my student for the first time. She’s super great—we collaborated on a bunch of activities, and we had a long chat about stuff that interested each of us,” one STEM coach told us.
“My student spoke with clarity about how she was torn between two domains—Medicine and Technology—one of which her family had extensive experience in and another which she personally had found interesting and accessible. She wants to know more about the relative difficulty of study in each and the joy to be found in each career path after study.”
“My student also wanted to have experiences learning about those things that would teach her new skills and which might be unlike the activities they would get to do in school when exploring STEM. Together, we have already come up with a creative and technically challenging task to collaborate on and learn together throughout the year.”
We are fortunate to have 94 STEM coaches involved this year, mentoring 115 students.
Over the week, our students made new connections, created lifelong friendships, and built their confidence. One participant’s parent noted, “Finding this program was the best highlight of our year. For a kid who has struggled with ASD social skills with other girls, to see her so happy and engaged this last week has been a true blessing. She’s finally found her peeps!”
We are truly amazed by the Curious Minds 2023/24 cohort by their resilience and commitment to Summer Camp. Approximately 45 hours were spent online learning, making new friends, and exploring their curiosity in their school holiday break. As the virtual camp was delivered to participants across Australia, there were some early starts and late finishes for some based on their time zones.
Reaching those who may not otherwise have such an opportunity is integral to the Curious Minds program. Since 2015 over 760 students from regional, rural, and low socio-economic areas have taken part and benefited from the program.
Curious Minds is an initiative funded by the Department of Education, Skills, and Employment. The program is delivered by the Australian Maths Trust and Australian Science Innovations, with university partner, the Australian National University, and aims to ignite girls’ passion and participation in STEM.
Applications for the 2024/25 Curious Minds Intake – for students and STEM coaches – will open in September 2024. Express your interest here: 2024/25 Curious Minds Expression of Interest