By Year 11 students Alishba Saeed and Felicity Chapman
Curious Minds is a program aimed at encouraging and engaging girls in STEM. It is organised by the Australian Science Innovations and is a six-month program that combines two residential camps and a STEM mentoring program.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s camps were held online. We were sent packages with equipment and materials which we would use during the camp. The camp commenced with an inspirational talk from Brian Schmidt, a joint Nobel Prize winner in physics. He was awarded for the discovery that the universe was expanding at an increasing rate. Brian shared experiences from his upbringing in America and how living in the countryside ignited his passion for astrophysics.
The camp lasted four days, each with a hectic schedule of hands-on activities, supercharged sessions and talks. The supercharged sessions, which rotated each day, consisted of two hours of activities on a specific area of STEM. We were placed in groups to complete these sessions, which allowed us to meet other girls who shared similar interests. We also took part in a group STEM activity over the four days, which all students completed together. This year’s theme was on the harmful effects of microplastics on the environment and people and looking for ways to manage the issue.
Throughout the camp, we also got the opportunity to take part in activities of our choice including Olympiad sessions, STEM-related games and talks from current university students about Australian university application and university life.
One of the major parts of Curious Minds is the six-month STEM mentoring program. We were each paired up with a female coach who works in a STEM field which we were passionate about. Over the 6 months, we design our own project with our mentor, catching up every 3 weeks. Getting to regularly catch up with our mentors allows us to learn more about their jobs and experience as women working in the STEM fields.
Overall, the Curious Minds program was great opportunity to broaden our horizons about pursuing a career in STEM. We enjoyed meeting and working with other girls and learning from experts working in the STEM fields.
Pictured above: A magnetic motor made during the physics supercharged session.