Monday 19th February 2018 welcomed the start of the Festival of STEM & Entrepreneurship which was the culmination of a year’s planning by a large team across UOW. The event linked together a wide selection of disciplines to inspire our future entrepreneurs and highlight the important role of women working in the various fields of STEM.

Managed through the Science Space, NSW’s premier science centre, and held on the Innovation Campus, the Festival brought to together a large number of Academics, Researchers and Students who had worked and developed a diverse selection of Innovative and inspiring activities which were then delivered primarily by leading women role models.

This major five-day event, a first of its kind in the region, welcomed 2,300 year 7 & 8 students to the IC to take part in over 20 different hands-on, STEM focused activities; including subjects such as robotics, forensic science and 3D printing.

The Festival which was initiated by a successful funding application from the Women in STEM & Entrepreneurship program was also significantly supported by in-kind contributions from all the faculties, departments and students. Supporters dedicated their time and effort into not only developing but delivering the activities on each day of the Festival.

The students also got to be inspired by a number of amazing and influential people through various presentations throughout the week which included:

  • Molly Fitzpatrick – the Festival MC (Studying a Bachelor Materials Engineering and Physics)
  • Mikaela Jade – Presenter from ACT Parks and Entrepreneur, Indigital Storytelling
  • Catherine Fieldhouesen – Digital Ambassador from Asia Microsoft Office and UOW Alumni STEM Ambassador
  • Taj Pabari – Digital Ambassador & Entrepreneur and owner FiftySix Creations
  • Jessica Grozdanov – Presenter & studying a PHD in Materials Science at UOW
  • Professor Judy Raper – Presenter & DVC (RI), UOW
  • Omar Khalifa – Presenter & iAccelerate Chief Executive Officer
  • Professor Dianne Jolley – Presenter & Associate Dean (International) UOW

The Festival Team were also very pleased to welcome the Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation, Zed Seselja who joined Prof. Paul Wellings, VC and Prof. Judy Raper on a brief tour of the Innovation Campus and the festival activities plus he spent time engaging with the students during the presentations. While the success of this tremendous event was significant and is something we would like the opportunity to repeat, the greater long-term legacy will be reusing the engaging activities in the form of STEM engagement activities as part of a visit to the Science Space during a school excursion and also in the form of professional development workshops for teachers to support STEM engagement. This is something the Science Space team are working to roll out through 2018.

Festival of STEM Facts and figures

  • 45 High Schools, with 2,300 students registered to attend. With a 56% female student attendance rate.
  • UOWx students were recruited as volunteers to support the event – 62% of this student group were female role models
  • 71% of the presenters were female providing a diverse range of role models highlighting their journeys and leading careers in the STEM and entrepreneurial sectors.

Science Space facts

  • Last year the Science Space welcomed over 56,000 visitors of which 17,000 were school students as part of an excursion.
  • It is NSW’s only hands-on Science Centre with over 90 interactives.
  • It has the most advanced digital immersive theatre in Australia and NSW’s largest planetarium space.
  • It offers a wide selection of STEM engagement activities and shows as part of an excursion or as an outreach.
  • It is owned and operated by UOW

The Science Space is a place where anyone (young and old) can come and see how science and technology discoveries have become our reality. It’s a place to be inspired about what the future holds and empowered to help change it for the better.

For more information contact www.sciencespace.com.au or contact Stuart Creal, Director, screal@uow.edu.au.