House debates

Monday, 20 August 2018

Constituency Statements

Chifley Electorate: Chifley College, Stem in Schools

10:36 am

Photo of Ed HusicEd Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to extend to the member for Page: all the best to the gorillas in the sweat mist. It's a very good thing that they're doing there. It was recently National Science Week. It is a really important time to get young people engaged in scientific endeavour and thinking ahead about the way in which our work and work lives and committees will change through the impact of technology. Through the course of the week, I had the very great pleasure of visiting Chifley College Bidwill Campus to see students there who were looking at the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths for Australia's future. The school itself was involved in the CSIRO's STEM in Schools activities, which aim to demonstrate the importance of those subjects by making them very relatable to students and shining a light on exciting careers ahead, and from my point of view, especially, getting young students from Western Sydney engaged is exceptionally important. The session started off looking at the CSIRO's video on STEM, showing all the great things that Australians have done in scientific fields and the types of things we've been able to achieve as a nation. Where we may not have been considered as a country that could contribute, we've actually, as the saying goes, 'punched well above our weight'.

It was terrific to talk with those year 9 students about the types of things that they'd been working on. What struck me, going around the room, was that the students had been asked to think about ways in which they could make their school more energy efficient. They had approached the issue, each in their individual way, and come up with different means and techniques of helping the school out. It was quite inspiring to see them taking a lateral view to those problems and thinking about what could be done to help the school. It's under the outstanding leadership of the principal, Mark Burnard; the deputy principal, Stacie Connor; and the science teachers there that the students were super impressive in what they've been doing. I'm looking forward to catching up with them again in the near future.

It is crucial to have teachers and leaders who are just as engaged in the process—teachers such as Ms Prasad, whose skills extend well beyond just teaching the students. She's designed lessons that cater to the needs of individual students, and she guides and supports staff in upskilling their ability. They are very keen to engage with tech companies—which I was pleased to hear—to visit them and get Western Sydney students engaged and make them think about how they can impact on the future. I think the success for us as a nation in the innovation field is to ensure that everyone who has a stake, who has a say is engaged and is involved early on to ensure that we're doing the thinking and preparation in advance, and getting everyone involved in this important national endeavour.