The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) is working to secure the future of youth clubs dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in the state by developing an evaluation framework to help them get off the ground and build sustainable programming.

Team leader Associate Professor Angela Fitzgerald, from the School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood (STEEC), said the University was excited to be involved in the project. “Typically we’ve had sport, music and drama as extra-curricular activities, but now we’re starting to recognise there are many children who want to engage in STEM outside the classroom and keen to push themselves,” she said.

Ass. Prof. Fitzgerald said that these clubs help to inspire the younger generations and to extend their learning in science, technology, engineering and maths as well as promote essential 21st Century skills, such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. “This framework takes the next step, providing a formal guide of plans and strategies on how to run a successful STEM club program – perfect for groups like schools and libraries,” she said. “It will draw together our research and experience in STEM education and digital technologies, as well as feedback from existing clubs.”

Ass. Prof. Fitzgerald’s team includes Tania Leach (STEEC), Dr Kate Davis, Dr Neil Martin (Digital Life Lab) and Stephanie Piper (Library Services). The USQ team is collaborating with Queensland Museum and Inspiring Australia to identify the main supports and resources required for running a quality STEM club. “It is vital that we engage young people in exciting, hands-on STEM learning that is embedded in their community, to encourage them to develop enthusiasm and an appreciation for science and allow them to recognise the real world applications of science, and to see themselves as scientists,” Shelley Dunlop, Manager of Inspiring Australia in Queensland, said. “By supporting Queenslanders to run quality STEM clubs, we will be able to inspire future generations of innovative Queenslanders and we are proud to be working with USQ to make this happen.”

Readers also enjoyed this story about this student’s royal connection.