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STEM Big Day Out



260 Central Queensland high school students have taken part in the state’s first ever STEM Big Day Out which puts the spotlight on a whole new era of exciting careers for young people in the resources sector.

Students received an insight into the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) through a unique program developed by the Queensland Resources Council’s education arm, the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) and supported by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).

The QMEA is rolling out the model nationally with the support of BHP through a program called ARISE, which aims to connect young people with future career opportunities in the resources sector.

Spread over two days and five schools, the initiative saw Year 8 and 9 students working in teams guided by QMEA and BMA representatives to solve a series of real-world puzzles and challenges related to the resources sector.

Moranbah State High School hosted their STEM Big Day Out on August 1, which involved the school’s entire Year 8 cohort of 160 students.

This was followed on August 2 by another STEM Big Day Out hosted by Sarina State High School and involving 100 students from Sarina, Mackay, Pioneer, and Mackay Northern Beaches state high schools.

Michelle Pole, Principal of Moranbah SHS, said the students were excited to be part of this inaugural event, especially on their home ground.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to stir the students’ passion for STEM subjects,” she said.

“The program fosters teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills, and enables students to make connections between STEM subjects and how they’re relevant to future careers in the resources sector.”

Team challenges included solving riddles based on the periodic table to promote critical thinking to increase students’ knowledge of chemical elements.

Along with opportunities to explore pulley mechanics, control robots and engineer machines to consistently select samples, students had plenty of fun as they harnessed their creativity and developed analytical and strategic thinking skills.

QMEA’s Manager of Skills and Education, Matthew Heskett, said BMA’s involvement in the program in Queensland added an extra dimension to the STEM activities on offer.

“Being able to personally interact with BMA staff gave students a lot of insights into the real-world applications of the skills they’re developing in the classroom,” he said.

BMA Head of Human Resources Tamara Barden said BMA is proud to support a program that gives young people ideas about how they can contribute to the changes taking place across the resources sector to reduce emissions and improve environmental sustainability.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of an educational event that gives young people practical opportunities to understand what careers in the resources sector can offer, especially if they have an interest in STEM subjects,” she said.

As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and skills training initiative, the QMEA seeks to broaden student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources. The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into VET and STEM-related careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with over 90 schools and is a partnership with the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.  To find out more go to

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