Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Penrith STEM program branching out

Students from seven high schools in the Penrith Local Government Area will soon share the findings of their inquiry-based research projects as part of a Council-backed STEM Community Partnerships Program (STEM CPP).

It’s the second year Penrith City Council has partnered with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to deliver the STEM CPP program, which culminates in an end-of-year Showcase.

Local Year 9 and 10 students are guided by industry professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields as they research solutions for real-world challenges.

The aim is to encourage innovative thinking and nurture problem solving skills in the lead up to students presenting their work to industry professionals, their peers and community members at the Showcase event.

Penrith Mayor, Tricia Hitchen, congratulated the students for completing the program and said they were one step closer to landing exciting careers in STEM fields.

“It is fantastic to have many of our City’s bright, young minds engaged in a program that is giving students hands-on experience and creating vital career pathways in STEM jobs of the future,” Mayor Hitchen said.

“Council is proud to support the STEM Community Partnerships Program, launched in 2021 in Penrith, a fast-growing City where more people are choosing to live and work, and where vital infrastructure and further transport links are growing and connecting our community to other parts of Sydney and the rest of the world.

“Our City is being transformed and with that comes new opportunities for a skilled workforce – by learning about the real needs and challenges of our community at a local level, these students are well on the path to becoming the leaders of tomorrow in crucial STEM jobs.

“Well done to this year’s cohort, I look forward to hearing more about their forward-thinking research at the Showcase,” she said.

The STEM CPP is part of CSIRO’s Generation STEM, an initiative made possible through the NSW Government’s $25 million endowment to the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.

Generation STEM aims to empower the next generation of young people with the skills to meet the growing need for a STEM-focused workforce.

Over the past two years, participating students have connected with mentors from Council to understand local issues and see problem-solving in action, as Council continues to enhance the City for current and future generations.

Council’s Nursery Coordinator, Mark Viler, is a STEM CPP mentor who recently welcomed 20 students from Colyton High School and took them on a tour of the facilities at the Penrith site.

He explained the propagation process, from seed to tree and from cutting to shrub, all of which are planted around the LGA.

“We talked about Council’s Cooling the City strategy and the importance of increasing canopy cover. We looked at specific species, listing their benefits, and also discussed Council’s Bushcare program,” Mr Viler said.

Colyton High School’s Community Liaison Officer, Jodie Mitchell said the site visit supported students in their STEM CPP project, which is focused on heat stress in the natural environment and creating cooler spaces in the community.

“Students had the idea to create a micro-forest at our school and mapped out plants before our visit – Mark showed us many of the plants we had on our list which was great as it gave students a really visual experience,” she said.

Colyton High School’s STEM CPP cohort will join students from other local schools at the Showcase on Wednesday (23 November) to present their work.

To find out more about the program, visit www.csiro.au/generationstem.

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