One Australian state has launched a plan to advance STEM skills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students. Students will be able to develop and test their coding and robotics skills at public libraries statewide.
Queensland minister for innovation, science and the digital economy, Leeanne Enoch, announced the eight communities who will benefit from $157,000 in grants to support libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres in their delivery of STEM.I.AM coding and robotics activities.
Ms Enoch said the Advance Queensland STEM.I.AM coding and robotics grants program was specifically designed to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses at university.
“Increasing access to digital technologies through this program is another positive step towards closing the gap and improving the digital inclusion of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Ms Enoch said.
“In partnership with State Library of Queensland and local councils, the STEM.I.AM coding and robotics activities will be available to young people in Aurukun, Cook, Douglas, Gladstone, Logan, North Burnett, Paroo and Townsville.
“These activities – expected to start later this month – complement coding and robotics activities delivered in schools by providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to develop their digital literacy, problem solving and creative thinking skills outside formal learning environments.
“We hope engaging, innovative programs such as this encourages more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study STEM subjects at school that could spark their interest in a future career built on science, technology, engineering or maths.”
State librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald said libraries provide a supportive, hands-on environment where everyone has access to technology, information and creative skill building.
“Providing opportunities to build digital literacy skills is vital for Indigenous communities who often experience digital exclusion,” Ms McDonald said.
“Libraries are amazing community assets where creativity and digital literacy connect people with opportunities, each other and the world.
“Having hands-on experience will allow our future innovators to experiment and learn how to code a robot to do things like talk, sing, walk and dance in a fun and engaging way.
“The Advance Queensland STEM.I.AM coding and robotics grants will help public libraries improve access to learning opportunities for young people in Queensland’s rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
“This initiative also complements other digital inclusion activities delivered within communities across Queensland.
“I urge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Years 5 to 12 to talk to their local library, teachers or school about participating in these coding and robotics activities.”
Carbon Creative managing director and STEM.I.AM founder, Wayne Denning, said he is delighted that through State Library grants, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids living in outer regional and remote Queensland will get the opportunity to do coding and robotics.
“Access to technology-based activities like coding for Indigenous kids is exactly what STEM.I.AM is all about,” he said.
The STEM.I.AM coding and robotics grants are delivered in partnership with local councils and public libraries by the State Library of Queensland as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland STEM.I.AM program.
The Advance Queensland STEM.I.AM program is a collaboration between the Department of Science, Information Technology and Information, Carbon Creative, Department of Education and Training, and corporate sponsors including Google and FIRST Australia.
To find out more about the grant projects visit http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/programs/stem.i.am