USC STEM CONNECT Program

In Term 2, four Year 10 students participated in a STEM CONNECT program at the University of the Sunshine Coast. The program is designed for highly motivated students that have a strong intrigue towards STEM subject areas. For four weeks, students travelled to the University on a Tuesday afternoon to learn about different STEM subject areas with hands-on experience. Each activity was facilitated by leading USC academics from diverse areas of expertise.

In the first week, the students enjoyed programming their own software using Arduinos. The aim of the task being to program different lights to twinkle and change colours. The task was found challenging by a few of the students initially but the result and final product were rewarding.

In the second week, the students visited a scientific lab where they performed experiments in the field of chromatography. For the chromatography activity, students were given the task to determine whose pen had written a threatening note. Using cleaning products and ink samples the students deduced which pen and therefore who had written the note.

In addition to this, the students were given pregnancy test sticks to dip in a sample of liquid. Some contained Dengue fever antibodies and some did not, it was the student’s task to determine which had the antibodies present.

The third week was focused primarily on biomechanics, students analysed human movement and were privy to real-life footage of a patient with a limp. The students were tasked with finding where the patient was injured and how (with a ripple effect) this would impact all other parts of their body and movement. The students were also given the opportunity to then analyse their own bodies regarding their centre of gravity. Lastly, the students were given access to the software that calculated and graphed the movements they had been studying.

The students were given access to the rooms and labs of the University, of which they would not have been able to have this opportunity if they had not been allowed to work and study under the program. The opportunity was of great value for the students to partake in, and this experience will most likely assist them in their future endeavours in regards to their career. Students highly recommend future students to partake in this program as it would be an insightful and enjoyable experience for those who enjoy or excel in the STEM subjects.

Felicity Agius Year 10

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