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Enterprising Girls kick off Science Week with 'Shark Tank' event

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Enterprising Girls Team
Academy For Enterprising Girls

Queensland high school students pitch ideas to Australia's Chief Scientist

A solar-powered drone to improve water quality, a strategy to use human hair to remove oil from the ocean and a device that eliminates microplastics from our waterways are just some of the enterprising ideas a group of female high school students will pitch to the country’s chief scientist last night.

A dozen young women from state schools in Queensland’s South East Region have spent the past two months developing their ideas to coincide with the start of National Science Week and this year’s theme: Deep Blue.

“Harnessing and empowering our young people to use science to address future challenges should be a priority,” said Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.

“I can think of no better way to a pique a student’s interest in science than by working to solve real-life problems. The teamwork, collaboration and innovative thinking arising from this project will have been substantial, and I’m keen to see what these young women have developed to solve some truly wicked problems,” he said.

The girls aged 14 to 16 years were handpicked by their schools to take part in the program and formulate their ideas in two workshops funded by the Academy for Enterprising Girls, a program designed to equip young women with the tools they need to become our next generation of female innovators, entrepreneurs and job makers.

“Encouraging a passion for STEM starts with inspiring a passion for problem solving and it’s clear from the inspiring and innovative ideas the Queensland STEM Girl Power teams are very passionate about finding solutions to protect the ocean for future generations,” said Academy for Enterprising Girls Program Director Tegan Gilchrist.

The workshops were led by social enterprise Young Change Agents and covered an introduction to design thinking through empathy mapping, problem definition, ideation, validation and prototyping.

“These girls really are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs and I was so inspired watching their ideas evolve  as they developed essential enterprising and design thinking skills,” said CEO of Young Change Agent Margaret O’Brien.

Over the past two months the students have met with industry experts to validate and refine their ideas, before pitching to the expert panel tonight.

“These girls are part of the Department’s STEM Girl Power Initiative designed to encourage Queensland students into STEM activities, subjects and career pathways,” said Jane McLaren, STEM Champion.

Challenges like COVID-19 and the summer’s bushfires are demonstrating the value of STEM skills, yet the Chief Scientist’s recent STEM Workforce Report found that women make up only 29% and 8% of the university and VET STEM-qualified labour force respectively. It is critical that students develop their entrepreneurial and STEM based skills to survive and thrive in a post COVID economy.

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