House debates

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Constituency Statements

Bennelong Electorate: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

10:49 am

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I would like to talk today about STEM in schools—or, to break down the buzzword: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These are the fields which will create the jobs of the future in the future, cure our diseases, explore the next frontiers, solve our problems and improve our lives. In Australia, we enjoy a very high standard of living that has been made possible by the hard work of generations past, but if we are to continue to enjoy this high standard of living we must be ready and able to innovate and grow. This can only occur if we provide high-quality STEM education to our younger generations and afford them opportunities to develop their problem solving and lateral thinking. It is essential that our children be well versed in these subjects if we want to compete on the international stage.

Local students in Bennelong are fortunate to live in the innovation capital of Australia. We are home to Australia's first hydrogen filling station for the next generation of carbon neutral cars. We have a 'gamma knife', which can cure cancers. We have pharmaceutical companies which are at the cutting edge of both curing and preventing disease. Historic local inventions range from the Granny Smith apple to wi-fi. The future is being created in Bennelong. This has already had an impact on our schools. Many of my colleagues will remember the Bennelong Innovation Fair I held last year in the Great Hall to celebrate the innovation which drives my electorate. That event included representatives of local schools, including students from the enterprising Carlingford High School who had recently won the Subs in School competition by designing and building a miniature, fully functioning submarine. Others students there were winners in the inaugural Bennelong Schools' STEM Challenge. This competition pitted schools against each other to design something innovative. Winners included Epping Boys High School, for their HandiGlove, engineered to replace a laptop keyboard for people with spinal injuries; Carlingford High School, for their obstacle avoidance autonomous robot vehicle; and Melrose Park Public School, who developed a riverside guide app to help people to navigate the local Parramatta River.

Importantly, this STEM challenge will return this year. This year we are partnered with Re-Engineering Australia, an excellent foundation which creates STEM challenges for schools around the country. This year's task is for teams to design a medical centre for the surface of Mars, using 3D designed software—a fitting theme, given the recent announcement of the formation of the Australian Space Agency. The competing teams will present their designs on competition day, which will be held in late September and is being generously supported by Medtronic, who will be hosting their teams at their office in Macquarie Park. I recently participated in CSIRO's STEM in Schools event, which is an excellent innovation to encourage students— (Time expired)


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