Forty recipients will share in $660,320 worth of funding in 2022 to help increase public participation in Queensland scientific research and STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) engagement events and activities under the Engaging Science Grants program.
Indigenous workshop and engagement with marine scientists
Australian Marine Science Association - North Queensland
Australia's peak professional body for marine scientists, the Australian Marine Sciences Association Inc., is delivering a week-long series of activities to promote Indigenous engagement in Australian marine science. This will coincide with the 2022 annual national conference being held in Cairns in August.
The conference will bring together Indigenous leaders and/ or representatives from a range of Traditional Owner groups and coastal communities to discuss Australian marine science. Through this Indigenous-led workshop, non-Indigenous marine scientists will gain a greater appreciation of the specific needs, values and traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities, and be able to incorporate this learning into their own research.
BatSoc community engagement and citizen science
Bats and Trees Society of Cairns
This project comprises a series of presentations to schools and community groups and citizen science events. Citizen science activities will involve bat monitoring through surveys and installation of bat boxes. Participants will learn about principles of scientific investigation and improve ecological and scientific literacy among the Far North Queensland community. Educational material will be produced to encourage locals and visitors to participate in citizen science events, while outcomes of the various projects will be presented at the annual Cairns Bat Festival.
Data collected by the citizen scientists will assist species recovery and help inform consultation with other groups and government.
Baringa State Primary School
Working in partnership with local organisations, volunteers from Turtle Care and local scientists, students will investigate the key stages in the life cycle of a sea turtle and the threats that face them. Students will research how community groups use science to take action and how these groups have an impact on the survival of the turtle species.
As well as learning about data collection and analysis, students will also be involved in the creation of a STEM Turtle Showcase Awareness Day where the community will learn about the threats to turtles.
Drosophila research education laboratory
Brisbane South State Secondary College
This project establishes a learning partnership between Brisbane South State Secondary College and the Queensland Institute for Medical Research. The project will involve a series of activities including establishing a Drosophila (fruit fly) Research Education Laboratory at the school, developing curriculum resources as well as co-delivery of teaching and learning experiences for students and local feeder primary schools. Activities will also occur during National Science Week.
It is designed to increase student participation in STEM subjects and highlight STEM career pathways, as well as develop scientific literacy, increase the awareness of Queensland's scientific research and foster opportunities for students to engage with scientists.
Creative engineering autonomous vehicle
Burnside State High School
Burnside State High School students will undertake a STEM project to design and build an autonomous vehicle. The year 10 students will use creative engineering skills to modify a remote-control car chassis. This project will incorporate mechanical, electrical and software engineering skills.
The project will run throughout a semester and expose the students to positive STEM experiences that inspire them to select academically challenging senior STEM subjects and broaden their awareness of engineering careers. The project will culminate in a community open day where the students present their autonomous vehicles.
Great Reef Census
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Reef Census is an innovative approach to assessing reef health and piloting new ways of capturing large-scale reconnaissance data from across the Great Barrier Reef using citizen science.
This year, school students living in Reef communities will go online to analyse the data collected from the project to help turn the images into meaningful information for researchers.
This information will then be used by the marine science community, marine managers, conservation and industry groups to help understand the constantly changing and evolving condition of the Great Barrier Reef.
Drones and developing agriculture technology knowledge
CQUniversity will partner with Isis District State High School to deliver an agricultural technology drone project for adolescents. Through a series of activities, participants will learn how drones are used in agriculture, focusing on different aspects of farm management, including managing fence lines, inspecting crops and animal paddocks, and using drone survey data to plan greater farm productivity.
As well as theory, students will fly drones, using them to code flight plans which will culminate in the students using them to track herd health and manage crops. The project aims to expand students' knowledge about drones, develop critical thinking skills and inspire adolescents to consider future career options.
Smart grubs in schools
A series of activities with primary school aged children that helps inform them about food waste solutions other than landfills. The project will demonstrate how food waste can be processed, composted, and used to improve soil health.
The students will learn about the life cycle of the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens). They will collect and record data about the flies and their lifecycle, educating students about how black soldier fly larvae can be used to compost food waste.
As part of the project, students will also collect, sort, and weigh food waste collected from their classroom, and then use this food waste as feed for fly larvae. Students will record how the larvae consumes the food and processes it into frass which will subsequently be used as a compost product.
Desert Channels Queensland citizen science waterbug project
Desert Channels Queensland
The project comprises school visits/excursions as well as attendance at three annual fishing competitions to undertake waterbug surveys in rural communities. Designed to not only engage school children in STEM activities, it also aims to contribute to the National Waterbug Blitz public database through citizen science and provide ongoing information about the health of waterholes, rivers and town water reservoirs within the Lake Eyre Basin catchment.
The project also engages both students and the wider community with practical activities, creates experiential learning opportunities and raises awareness about the connection between water quality and environmental health.
STEM for Earth
Students from 10 schools in the greater Cairns region will participate in the STEM for Earth program.
Students will map the biodiversity of their school and environs to be displayed as augmented reality tags to wider stakeholders. The project will consist of three school incursions and an always-on virtual engagement program.
Using the mobile app QuestaGame, the students will observe and document biodiversity, learn about classification of life, digital mapping and augmented reality to generate an up-to-date biodiversity map of their school or local environment.
Grand opportunities in STEM
A Queensland-based SkillsTech startup, Grandshake has developed a skills platform that gives secondary students and educators across Australia free access to industry-led virtual upskilling programs.
The Grand Opportunities in STEM program is designed to increase awareness of, and engagement with, Queensland science careers and industry opportunities among years 9-12 students across Queensland, with specific emphasis on supporting STEM engagement in regional and rural areas.
Join the free online 30-minute Upskilling microprogram and connect with inspirational STEM professionals, scientists, projects and skills that characterise this space in Queensland.
Smart environmental sensing Australia
Griffith University and Substation33 have developed a technology to use upcycled e-waste for remote aquatic environmental monitoring. A special buoy provides periodic data on key water quality indicators through an online dashboard.
This project aims to engage the community in a citizen science initiative to proactively monitor their local waterways. High school students will work with STEM teachers and researchers to use the buoys to assess how changes in their land management practices are impacting the water quality. Schools can compare their water quality data with data being collected from industry research partners.
STEM program about space exploration (SPASE)
Eleven secondary schools from South East Queensland will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with Griffith University and Gilmour Space Technologies to build and launch a Low Earth Orbit prototype satellite.
Each school will specialise in a component of the mission, and create their own mission success criteria. They will work with real, space-qualified electronics, technology and experts to achieve their goals both before the rocket launch and after, as the Earth observation data is relayed back. Those involved in the program will also become space science communicators, driving a range of space-themed engagement activities for their entire school community.
Monitoring and DNA profiling koalas
This project aims to monitor and collect data to reveal movements and family relationships of koalas, to help build Australia’s first long-term citizen science koala DNA program. High school students from across Queensland will learn about ecology, environmental monitoring and molecular biology by spotting, photographing, mapping and recording koalas, collecting koala scats and performing DNA profiling.
As part of the program, members of the public can also photograph and document where they have seen a koala, collect a scat, send it to the laboratory for the students to analyse. The research will help establish further understanding of this iconic Australian species.
Gympie Regional Libraries science outreach project
Gympie Regional Libraries
The aim of this project is to provide additional science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM)learning opportunities to the children and their families who live throughout the Gympie region.
Throughout the school term, a broad range of STEM providers will visit the regional schools to deliver a series of creative and inspiring workshops that are accessible to all ages. During the school holidays, children will be able to interact with STEM based programming at each of the Gympie Regional Libraries branches.
'Innovate in AgTech' Regional STEM Tour
This project will emphasise the importance of STEM and advanced technologies to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector in the Darling Downs-Maranoa region. It consists of a series of events including a 5-day travelling STEM and careers expo hosted at major towns between Roma and Lockyer Valley with an ‘Ag-Innovations’ Research Night being hosted in Toowoomba featuring researchers from the University of Southern Queensland as a finale event in the week leading up to National Agriculture Day in November 2022.
Many regional Queensland communities will engage in the STEM experiences and be inspired to explore careers in science and technology.
Biosecurity monitoring and reporting of invasive ants
Invasive Species Council
This project is a citizen science project that seeks to locate infestations of the highly invasive yellow crazy ant in the Townsville region to support eradication efforts. Invasive ants are a significant threat to agriculture, biodiversity, tourism, personal property and local industry.
The information gathered from this citizen science project will provide critical information to the Townsville City Council to support control of these infestations. The project will include monitoring and eDNA sampling, as well as the development and delivering of training sessions on identification and eDNA sampling.
Frog friendly waterways
Kuranda Envirocare will build on its citizen science frog monitoring project across creek sites by introducing more students and community members to a variety of activities to help preserve the Critically Endangered Kuranda Tree Frog (Litoria myola).
The project will provide hands-on opportunities with new technologies to improve the monitoring program with additional data collection (water quality and acoustic recordings) and analysis. In addition, a series of workshops, seminars and talks about North Queensland citizen science projects will be delivered, while resource materials will also be prepared.
Leaper Reef - diversity & resilience study
Mackay Regional Council
This is a citizen science project focusing on the coral species located on Leaper Reef, near Sarina Beach on the Queensland Central Coast. Although part of the Great Barrier Reef, Leaper Reef and similar locations are often overlooked in terms of coral species in favour of the more popular tourist destinations.
This project will provide an opportunity for citizens, local government, industry and environment organisations alike to gain awareness of the coral life inhabiting this area of our coastline, and the elements impacting the reef.
Bugs to the rescue…. and rescuing bugs!
Mooloolah River Waterwatch and Landcare
The objective of Bugs to the Rescue… and Rescuing Bugs! is to increase public awareness, encourage and enable meaningful community on-the-ground action, facilitate citizen science learning opportunities, inspire the interest of students and the wider community in science-based solutions to the threats to the fragile riparian areas of the Mooloolah River, including its critically endangered lowland subtropical rainforest and its inhabitants. The project will proactively focus on two major threats – invasive weeds of national significance in the waterways and the loss of habitat. The project will also forage for important pollinators (butterflies, moths, and bees).
The project will build on its successful Bugs to the Rescue program delivering meaningful citizen science action through engaging with scientists in monitoring, restoring and creating new habitats in the catchment, schools and homes.
STARS & Sista's in STEM
Mudgeeraba Creek State School
The STARS (Scientists Taking Astronomy to Regional Schools) program engages rural students and their families through a series of visits by research scientists and PhD students in astronomy and astrophysics. The STARS program will coincide with the Sista's in STEM conference which is an all-day event encompassing keynote addresses, workshops and breakout sessions run by scientists and experienced teachers for girls in Years 6 and 7 from local regional schools. The conference aims to inspire young girls to learn about career pathways and pursue STEM-based studies.
Following the day-time conference, the school community will be invited to participate in a star-gazing session and hear first-hand about Australian space projects.
Gliders in the spotlight
Gulf Savannah NRM
Secondary school-aged children from within the Etheridge Shire Council region will participate in scientific field work alongside James Cook University scientists. It comprises nightly fauna surveys for the Greater Glider as well as a range of ancillary activities.
The Greater Glider (Petauroides volans) is the largest of the gliding possums. They are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ but it is thought they may have taken refuge at the Blackbraes National Park, due to its relatively high elevation. The surveys will help determine if the species is thriving, despite threats such as increasingly frequent extreme weather conditions due to climate change.
Finch monitoring and awareness on country
North Queensland Natural History Group
On country survey and monitoring events will take place in multiple locations and involve traditional owners. Training will involve finch species recognition and simple survey techniques that can be replicated as monitoring tools, enabling traditional owners, land managers and others to track the health of the multiple finch species present. The key target species is Gouldian Finch (endangered in Queensland).
As part of the project, a school kit will also be developed and distributed to Years 5-10 within schools in Gouldian country. Short field trips will also arranged.
Yellow crazy ant detectives
Parramatta State School
The yellow crazy ant is an invasive pest that has infiltrated some part of Cairns. In collaboration with Minjil Consultancy, Yirrganydji rangers, James Cook University and the Wet Tropics Management Authority Yellow Crazy Ants Eradication Program (YCAEP), Parramatta State School STEM students will be involved in trapping, identifying and surveying yellow crazy ant populations in Cairns as well as surveying the biodiversity of other ant species in the region.
They will also develop an understanding of how traditional owners manage country through stories and dance. The Wet Tropics Management views this program as a pilot project in the hopes of rolling it out to other schools in the region.
Engineering in-a-Box 2.0
Power of Engineering
This project will build on the pilot program of the Engineering in-a-Box teacher resource, developed to showcase the role engineers play in their own community, demonstrating different disciplines. The free product is supplied to schools, to inspire students to pursue STEM subjects and choose an engineering career.
The box contains lesson plans, a problem-solving scenario and materials. The project will develop an enhanced, next generation technical product presenting a broader spectrum of the engineering world. It will allow Power of Engineering to reach more regional Queensland students, helping to build a pipeline of local talent to support Queensland’s future in science and engineering.
Catholic Education Diocese of Rockhampton
Waste Watch is a citizen science project to measure efforts to reduce waste in schools and across the community, and to explore and share alternative and sustainable methods of reducing what goes to landfill. Schools and community members will conduct audits of the waste they’re sending to landfill and monitor that waste over time.
Schools will implement STEM strategies to examine systems and processes and to divert “waste” from landfill to other uses. Using a science informed approach, they’ll test their hypotheses before creating their solutions. Community members will also be encouraged to offer suggestions, and to help reduce waste going to landfill by reusing and repurposing items.
RACI Queensland youth lecture
Royal Australian Chemical Institute
This project provides an opportunity for a practising chemist to visit schools across Far North Queensland to promote education and careers in chemistry as part of an annual lecture series. These lectures are highly interactive and bring the work of the chemist into the hands of school students, through engaging presentations, live demonstrations, and hands-on experiments.
The aim is to show students who may not have the opportunity to see what a career in chemistry is like, owing to their remote location, and inspire their continued education in chemistry and STEM more broadly.
St Benedict’s re-building biodiversity project
St Benedict’s Catholic School, Shaw
This project is a series of activities including a transect study of local habitat, a study of flora and fauna using a citizen science app and rehabilitation of local bushland. Working with partners, students at St Benedict's Catholic School will also collect seeds and set up a viable shade house for the on-site propagation of the required plant species to increase biodiversity and restore vegetation in the school grounds.
The project will expose students and the wider community to the concept of environmental restoration, and learn about species composition mapping, ecological succession, landscape development, and simple soil biology.
STEAMfesta Robotique and Battle at the Brolga
'STEAMfesta Robotique' is a series of interactive workshops which will culminate in the two-day STEAMfesta on the 25-26 June 2022.
The event will be held in venues across Maryborough and Hervey Bay, with support from all sectors of the community.
STEAMfesta Robotique workshops are aimed at developing skills in costumery, robotics, 3D printing, Arduino programming and futuristic gadgetry. Students and community participants will have the opportunity to build, code and battle robots and other activities as part of STEAMfesta.
A number of activities will be offering opportunities to learn about automation and entering the workforce. They also foster inventiveness and complex problem-solving skills.
Interview a Scientist
The ‘Interview a Scientist’ project will consist of a series of activities that engage both secondary students from Brisbane schools and scientists from Griffith University. The project will start with an event at Griffith University at which secondary students will work alongside higher-degree and early-career researchers to interview lead scientists and write ‘impact stories’ on them and their research. The finalised impact stories will be launched on a new ‘Queensland STEM Impact’ website during National Science Week.
This project will be used as a pilot to build resources that will be used to recruit other Queensland organisations to run similar events in future.
The Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation
This project will deliver 28 Deadly Rockets - aerospace STEM innovation workshops for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and other young people across the regions of Bundaberg, Gladstone, Gayndah, Kingaroy, Cairns and Thursday Island in Queensland.
The Deadly Rockets project aims to reach Indigenous students in Prep to Year 12 from remote and rural communities across Queensland. Students will be immersed in STEM design and project-based investigations using the platform of rocketry and space technology to understand how and why things fly, hear about the latest in aerospace discovery, and learn about career options in aerospace and aviation.
Worm power for sustainable community farming
The University of Queensland
The Gympie and District Landcare Group is transforming organic waste products into biobased fertilisers through vermicomposting. This process involves worms converting organic waste into worm castings (the dark, fertile, granular excrement of a worm) and worm leachate/juice.
This project aims to analyse the biological components and nutritional values of the worm castings and related products. The acquired scientific data will allow the group to give the local grower community the confidence to adopt such a fertiliser system, helping to reduce the reliance on conventional fertiliser and improve soil health in the long term.
Study Fresh: air quality science
The University of Queensland
Study Fresh is a citizen science project which aims to increase productivity in Queensland schools through ensuring the healthiest possible learning environment. Students and teachers build their own indoor air quality sensors, monitor air quality data in their classrooms and through reflection on the data, learn ways they can improve it.
A Study Fresh pilot program has engaged more than 550 students from 18 schools in the Brisbane area, and this project extends the project to regional Queensland schools. This project will help to build citizens' understanding of indoor air quality and grow the existing dataset, assisting to understand the factors affecting indoor air quality in Queensland classrooms.
What are my native bees doing?
The University of Queensland
Schools and the general public will engage in data collection to answer a series of research questions about native stingless bee colonies living in hives across Queensland, including in schools, local communities and homes.
Ecologists from The University of Queensland will create an online resource to train citizen scientists on data collection techniques. Schools will access lesson plans and teaching strategies that teach key principles in scientific inquiry, literacy, analysis and presentation.
All participants in this project will be invited towards the end of the project to attend a webinar to see how their data has contributed to the research and meet key scientists and collaborators from The University of Queensland.
Second chance nestboxes science and habitat project
Wildlife nest boxes and monitor cameras will be used by Toogoolawa School students to gain valuable experience and knowledge about the natural world, biodiversity and connections within the environment.
The students are unable to attend mainstream schools due to a variety of circumstances, and the school aims to give these children a ‘second chance’ through practical ways of learning. Nature-based STEM activities have been found to help young people to build self-confidence, as well as creative and collaborative skills through hands-on learning. The project will also showcase career opportunities in STEM fields.
Treeforce school engagement focussed programs
Helping to facilitate increased environmental educational capacity within schools, this nature-based science project focuses on waterway health, waste management, riparian zone integrity and wildlife corridor functions in the environment.
Treeforce will work with 7 local schools, as well as local university and TAFE students studying conservation and ecosystem management. Treeforce will also promote guest expert speakers on several ecosystem monitoring disciplines.
Young Indigenous women's STEM development project
Trinity Bay Senior High School
The project features a series of weekly STEM events and once-a-semester citizen science activities for year 7 to 9 at Trinity Bay State High school, specifically targeted at young Indigenous females. The project is designed to create success in school and lead to university STEM pathways for these students.
The project has its foundations in removal of learning barriers, high expectation goal setting, weekly support and an engaging citizen science experience each semester. The project is supported by the school's Indigenous Advisory Committee, James Cook University Our Classroom on the Reef project, The CSIRO and the Green Island living education program.
Bite me! Insect predation and (micro)habitat in playgrounds
University of the Sunshine Coast
This citizen science project involves 10 primary schools focused on insects to monitor environmental change. The project engages children as ecological researchers, investigating species interactions and (micro)habitat. Schools will implement ecological assessments to consider habitat quality for the animals which share their playground, collecting data and working closely with scientists.
The project challenges students to quantify rarely observed interactions between insects and the animals which rely on them, while broadening their knowledge of connections in nature.
Coast4D monitoring program
University of the Sunshine Coast
Improved coastal monitoring is a priority in coastal areas to better understand coastal processes and interactions between land, sea and humans, and to predict the impacts of climate change.
Coast4D is a citizen science project that aims to use photos collected with a smartphone to frequently and cost-effectively monitor changes in dune vegetation and beach volume through time.
The project consists of training workshops, data collection by citizen scientists, and data analysis and dissemination of results via a public presentation, a scientific publication and an online public dashboard.
Gold Coast Mini-BioBlitzes 2022
Involving a number of small bioblitzes throughout 2022, Watergum will return to previous bioblitz locations to do follow up surveys. Bioblitzes provide the general public with the rare opportunity to join scientists and experts on environmental surveys and assist with the collection and analysis of real scientific data.
These events will take place in different biodiversity hotspots and consist of extensive flora and fauna surveying and environmental education activities. Surveys are led by experts and will be searching for rare, threatened and undescribed species.