Sustainability, emerging technologies and the skills needed to innovate and revolutionise Australian industries will be the focus of a special STEM camp in Wollongong, hosted by the Girl Guides Association and created in collaboration with the University of Wollongong, from 10-13 July.

STEM, otherwise known as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, currently accounts for 75 per cent of the skills and knowledge needed in the country’s fastest growing occupations, according to a recent study by the Australian Industry Group.

This week (10-13 July) more than 25 Girl Guides between the ages of 11 and 15 from across NSW and the ACT will be in Wollongong participating in hands-on activities and context-based projects at a STEM camp to stimulate creative thinking about sustainability issues.

Following on from the success of the recent STEM Camps for Girls and STEM Koori Camps, the University of Wollongong was approached by the Girl Guides Association to help organise activities for their group.

“Through Girl Guides partnering with thought leaders like the University of Wollongong, we can support girls and young women to grow and contribute to the future innovation of Australia, and help redress the gender imbalance in science-related fields,” Girl Guides NSW & ACT State Commissioner Sarah Neill said.

“Women comprise just 16 per cent of the STEM-qualified workforce. Women hold only 17 per cent of senior STEM-related academic positions, and 11 per cent of engineering jobs.

“Girl Guides offer a variety of activities to suit the current needs of our members and this inaugural STEM Camp is one of the many ways we prepare our girls for the future while enabling them to become responsible community members.”

UOW’s activities will offer an integrated STEM approach, starting with a concept, and encouraging the girls to develop their own curiosity for processes and solutions, and involving local industry to showcase careers in STEM.

They will learn about cryptology, sustainable design, environmental science, GIS mapping and drones, artificial muscles and robots. There will be an activity run by Cardno, a global infrastructure consulting company, tours of the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre and the opportunity to learn about groundbreaking research happening at UOW’s Innovation Campus.

UOW’s STEM Schools Outreach Coordinator, Destiny Paris, said the activities are specifically designed to interest and encourage girls to explore and develop ideas and solutions for problems facing humanity.

“We know that social stereotypes and a lack of role models can result in females steering away from STEM subjects and careers. But if we ‘change the story’ from technology to context (environmental, social and health) we can help reverse this trend,” she said.

“We want the participants to realise that STEM is about discovery, design, innovation, imagination and contribution. The skills they acquire through STEM are about creative problem-solving, and the more diverse the workforce the better we can improve decision-making and outcomes for all communities and industries.”

UOW will be hosting its annual STEM Camp for Girls from 14-17 January 2018 and is open to girls entering Years 10 and 11 in 2018. Entries are now open, with the early bird offer closing on 30 September 2017.