Forty-one recipients will share in $704,922 worth of funding in 2023 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.
Mantas of Minjerribah
Craigslea State High School
First Nations students at Craigslea State High School will engage with Project Manta – The University of Queensland based citizen science project. They will get the chance to obtain their Open Water Scuba Diving Licence and conduct ecological surveys collecting data on the local Gawangalkmirri (manta ray; Manta alfredi) population in the waters off Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).
Students will learn about population ecology and behavioural biology of reef manta rays, growing their science skills. They will have the opportunity to meet with Minjerribah-Moorgumpin Elders to discuss the culture, history, and marine significance of Minjerribah and broader Quandamooka Country.
STEM learning with artefacts of First Peoples
Australian Aboriginal artefacts are well known worldwide as cultural heritage. However, only the cultural and artistic aspects of these artefacts have been emphasised in the current Australian Curriculum while a great deal of STEM knowledge behind some of these artefacts, including boomerangs, woomeras, and didgeridoo, is left unexplored.
Year 7–10 students, prioritising those from First Nations communities, will be invited to participate in multiple activities at CQUniversity’s Mackay campus, from understanding STEM principles behind the design of boomerangs to building, testing and decorating their own boomerang. Students will then learn how to fly their boomerang from experts from the Indigenous community.
Interview a Scientist 2023
Senior students from Brisbane schools will engage with scientists from Griffith University and other Brisbane-based organisations. Students will work alongside higher-degree and early-career researchers during a two-day workshop to interview scientists and write ‘impact stories’ on them and their research. The final stories will be placed on the Queensland STEM Impact website. A third event day will include the announcement of the winning story and allow the students to meet more scientists through a career speed dating session which will include an engineering workshop at the Griffith University Nathan campus.
Neuroscience and stress workshops for Townsville high school students
James Cook University
A full day event hosted at James Cook University will allow high-school students in Year 10 and 11 in Townsville, from all socio-economic backgrounds, to explore the different labs at the university and experience fun engaging STEM-based activities focused on neuroscience and stress. They will explore topics including measuring, analysing and interpreting stress data, and ways to improve stress-related issues. By getting students involved in STEM hands-on activities, giving them the exposure, confidence, and excitement about STEM-research, students will build their confidence in STEM skills and enable them to consider STEM studies and careers.
Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science
Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science
The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) program is a James Cook University outreach initiative providing First Nations Year 10 students with opportunities to engage in marine science and marine management, citizen science and caring for Sea Country. Over a 6-week period the ATSIMS program is delivered through a series of excursions where students learn about Traditional and Western approaches to managing Sea Country.
It is comprised of a series of hands-on, experiential learning excursions with reef conservation, science and education entities in Queensland. The program is led by a range of industry experts, and is supported by Traditional Owners and Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger groups.
Hands-on supercomputing for super chemistry
The University of Queensland
This project will deliver computational chemistry workshops to senior secondary students at remote Queensland schools. The aim is to engage students from underrepresented demographics in the lesser-known field of computational chemistry and promote tertiary entry into STEM. The workshop will introduce atomistic modelling of thin film deposition, which is widely used in the production of solar cells, consumer electronics and sensors, and will be run by experts in the field from The University of Queensland. Students will be directed to explore the research question ‘How do the properties of the deposited molecule affect roughness of a thin film?’.
Citizen scientists map coastal raptors on K'gari
University of the Sunshine Coast
With a staggeringly diverse mosaic of coastal habitats, K’gari (formerly Fraser island) is a World-Heritage area of international importance. However, there is a surprising lack of accurate distribution data of the island's wildlife. This project is designed to empower citizen scientists to systematically collect and map data and produce highly engaging wildlife imagery. Citizen scientists will engage in scientific bird surveys, mapping of wildlife distributions using open-source software, and capturing still and video imagery using cutting-edge equipment to create captivating social media for conservation. This will not only upskill participants to produce reliable distribution maps, it will also make them creators of mini wildlife documentaries at a technical level that will be a new achievement for all participants.
Queensland Bat Blitz
Students on school excursions to Capricorn Caves will learn about bats, how scientists monitor them, and why bats are important to the Australian ecosystem. They will work along-side university researchers and Capricorn Caves staff, to design, plan and carry out a scientific bat survey using high-tech acoustic bat detectors. Researchers will then visit schools to report the findings of the survey and work with students to sort and identify bat calls and generate basic environmental descriptors such as diversity, abundance and activity. Students will then conduct a bat survey in their school, uncovering what bat species are found in their local community, how rare or common those species are, and when they are active.
Pupils of the reef
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef
This project gives students across Queensland an active role to play in the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. Students will engage with cutting-edge deep learning artificial intelligence technology and analyse images taken as part of the Great Reef Census to provide scientists with the data they need to better protect and understand the Reef. Teacher toolkits and engaging communication assets will be developed to allow teachers across Queensland to access the program, with the aim to roll out the program to at least 15 schools. The model will facilitate the scale up of the program across the state, and will have the potential to be shared across the country and internationally.
Project Manta: Promoting citizen science for ocean conservation
University of the Sunshine Coast
This project will hold several regional events to create meaningful, long-term citizen science input for Project Manta in areas where we are currently data poor. Manta rays are a sentinel species, a type of canary in the coalmine’. Through monitoring their movement and habitat use, it provides insights into broader climate change impacts off Queensland’s shores. Citizen scientist input is crucial for monitoring these charismatic species along our vast coastline. This project will target citizen scientist activities in 4 regional locations – The Whitsundays, Rainbow Beach, Bargara and Cairns.
The OutbackSTEM roadshow: Connecting STEM to Country
integratedSTEM Pty Ltd
The OutbackSTEM roadshow has been developed to deliver a hands-on STEM experience intertwined within the context of First Nations culture to regional and remote Queensland towns with a high population of First Nations peoples. The roadshow aims to highlight, and expand upon, the Indigenous Australian culture's deep learnings from nature and biological science over tens of thousands of years. Topics will include exploring and using technologies to preserve, the cultural significance and scientific understandings of the knowledge communicated through dreamtime story-telling and cultural dances, astronomy for the use of navigation, knowledge of medicinal native flora, and the preservation of Indigenous artefacts and cultural sites. Communities will get to experience the significance of science through the lens of aboriginal culture and see how this knowledge has informed scientific discoveries in modern day society.
Sea turtles and our changing ocean
The Rainforest School
Students from The Rainforest School will work on a science project with local marine biologists, community groups and First Nations peoples to understand turtle life-cycles and the impact humans have on our ocean eco-systems through storytelling, immersive educational experiences and exposure to the importance of data-based insights. Students will objectively approach the problem of plastic pollutions’ impact on turtles from various perspectives and define data and inquiry-based solutions which will be actioned and measured for their impact. The results of their learning and data analysis will be shared with the public. The goal of this project is to inspire students to consider STEM subjects and broaden their aspirations for future study and careers.
Bringing Kindy science to the community
Various workshops aimed at 4–8-year-olds will be held in areas across South East Queensland to engage their natural need to explore and inquire. The project will be delivered for free at different locations so that children regardless of background can participate and appreciate science. The workshops will provide an opportunity to engage in an age-appropriate activity that can germinate into a love of inquiry and encourage children into future STEM participation.
By providing workshops in Deadly Kindergartens and affiliates Indigenous children will be exposed to STEM activities that could help form their identities.
Continuing science exploration and inspiration
Toogoolawa Schools Limited
This project will work with students from Toogoolawa school to continue a school citizen science project involving nest box monitoring and habitat restoration on a nearby property to attract wildlife and add biodiversity of the area. Barn owl boxes will be installed onsite and be monitored with specialised cameras alongside previously installed nest boxes. The plantings will be in the vicinity of Lamington National Park and will build on previous tree plantings along the riverbank to stabilise riparian zones and supports platypus habitat. Students will work in all disciplines of STEM throughout this project and gain valuable experience and knowledge about the natural world, biodiversity and environmental interconnectedness.
Gulf Savannah Science Festival
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group Ltd Trading as Gulf Savannah Natural Resource Management
The focus of this project is to inspire secondary school student from the Carpentaria Shire to follow STEM careers upon graduation through a one-day Science Festival. Students will be actively involved in hands on taxonomy, ecology and biodiversity activities and real-world scientific experiments in the analysis of soils. Students will work alongside university, scientific and ranger collaborators learning and following scientific methods and processes.
This project will deeply engage participants in real-world science within their own locality. The festival will be implemented through four rotational STEM workshops delivered by Gulf Savannah NRM staff in partnership with scientists from James Cook University, scientific educators and the Carpentaria Rangers. The theme of these science-based workshops will be soils, culture and zoology.
School Holiday STEM at Bulimba Creek
Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee Inc.
The Sustainability Centre will host 6 stand-alone school holidays events for pre-school, primary and secondary students. Environmental science topics covered will include nest box monitoring, bugs and insects, water bugs, frogs, cane toad busting and Indigenous science. The centre will deliver hands-on activities including arts and crafts for younger students and use scientific equipment and data collection for older students. The aims of the workshops are to teach students practical environmental science skills in an outdoor environment and increase community involvement and education.
Zoomed-in Science: inspiring students from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds
Zoomed-in Science is an online interactive outreach program that brings real scientific research laboratories directly into primary school classrooms in remote and rural areas of Queensland. Each Zoomed-in Science show will be performed within the research chemistry laboratories at QUT and streamed live to students. Through this platform, primary school aged children get the chance to meet, interact with and be inspired by Queensland research scientists in their own labs.
The interactive online presentations involve experiments, educational talks, two-way discussions and question and answer time, as well as providing the students with the chance to see what it is like to be a scientist working in a real-world lab.
Consumer Roundtable 2023 - Regional and Rural Health Research
RECOVER Injury Research Centre, The University of Queensland
Consumer roundtables invite research scientists to ‘the consumer table’ to develop shared priorities for health research. This project plans to deliver consumer roundtables to a rural and regional communities to develop a shared vision of health research priorities. Rural Queenslanders face unique challenges due to their geographic location and often have poorer health outcomes than people living in metropolitan areas. Improving these health outcomes requires solutions created with and led by communities. The roundtable will be held in Dalby to maximise the engagement of health consumers from communities across the Darling Downs. Consumers will host researchers from The University of Queensland campuses to discuss community needs and priorities.
Between a rock and a hard-place - saving the Granite Rose
This project is a conservation campaign focused on the creation of five products: a short film, a podcast, a citizen science survey effort, a regenerative agriculture workshop and an online STEM education resource for teachers. It focuses on the endangered Granite Rose (Boronia repanda) as an example of declining biodiversity in the region due to impacts of intensive agriculture and land-clearing and aims to educate the community on the importance of arresting this decline through citizen science and regenerative agriculture. The project's key messages will be:
- The importance of ecological mutualisms and explore the decline of native flora due to their breakdown.
- How to retain these mutualisms in the landscape through citizen science surveys and regenerative agriculture.
Cairns and Far North Environment Centre
This is a citizen science project designed to educate and upskill the local community in monitoring the condition of mangrove habitats. Mangroves are a vital area of study as they are the interface between the land and the sea. They reduce shoreline erosion and filter water runoff from the land and play an important role as carbon sinks. Increasing community knowledge and care for mangroves is necessary as they are often viewed as stinky, bug-infested swamps and are at risk of being removed for urban development.
This year, the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre will employ and empower Traditional Owner groups to take ownership of the project and independently monitor mangroves. This provides them with greater opportunity to care for Country.
Sawfish Country: collaborative STEM training and conservation workshops in First Nations communities in Cape York
Sharks And Rays Australia
Sharks And Rays Australia (SARA) has been conducting sawfish research in collaboration with Indigenous communities in Cape York, Queensland for the last 8 years. This project seeks to provide the community with the skills necessary to monitor their sawfish population independently and involve the youngest generation in this endeavour. SARA researchers will live stream their field work onsite, followed by a community training event at the end of each expedition, in coordination with the Aboriginal Shire Council leadership and Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers. Events will include a presentation on the species encountered during field work, example tagging a soft sawfish toy, drawing a local food web and guidance on how to estimate size and age of the animal from a saw or picture.
UQ Science Demo Troupe regional outreach trips
The University of Queensland Science Demo Troupe
The UQ Science Demo Troupe is a group of student performers trained in science communication providing engaging science shows, talks and workshops for schools and the public. This project will run 3 regional outreach trips in which Demo Troupe performers, alongside UQ School of Mathematics and Physics scientists, take part in week-long tours of regional areas, visiting new schools each day, offering outreach activities to them for free. The aim is to reach students who miss out on the opportunities available to schools situated near universities, and to engage with First Nations students who make up large percentages of many remote schools.
The Dignity Project Part 2: Disability-led citizen science driving research outcomes that matter
The Dignity Project at Griffith University
This project aims to strengthen opportunities and pathways for Queenslanders with disability to lead and develop research that matters most to them through a citizen science project that will include a 10-hour co-designed micro-credential and digital badge, a series of engagement events, and citizen-led pilot research projects across the 7 key areas of the Queensland’s Disability Plan 2022-2027.
Citizens with disability will be regarded as experts in their own life experiences and impairments. Academic researchers will play a supportive role, providing methods, training and opportunities that can enable important challenges to be identified from lived experiences and solutions with real impact to be explored.
Diverse participation in citizen science by people with disability
University of the Sunshine Coast
Almost 1 in 5 Queenslander’s have a disability, so designing citizen science activities for broad inclusion is needed. This project will deliver workshops with two important goals:
- provide an opportunity for people with disability to gain knowledge and skills by engaging in citizen science (astronomy and marine science)
- identify the components required for designing inclusive citizen science projects to increase scientific discoveries in fun and interesting ways.
Workshops will empower participants by increasing confidence, scientific knowledge and skill, and researchers will gain insights into how to design for inclusive participation. Researchers, participants, supporters, and industry and community stakeholders will work collaboratively to increase scientific awareness, social engagement and skill development.
Improving treatment outcomes for pulmonary tuberculosis
James Cook University
The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University is providing two undergraduate or postgraduate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with laboratory training to help further their STEM careers and the institute’s research into improved treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis. If the institute’s new cell therapy is successful, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit significantly from the treatment. The training will be for four months over a 12 month period and include laboratory technologies, analysis, tissue culture and microscopy. These skills the students acquire will help them pursue STEM careers, specifically in hospital-based diagnostic laboratories or medical research.
Yarrawarra Youth Outreach Pilot
Engineers Without Borders Australia
The Yarrawarra Youth Outreach program is a ground-breaking new place-based Outreach program designed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous young people, with the program delivered in communities. A joint initiative of the Indigenous Engineers Group (IEG) of Engineers Australia and Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB), the goal is to inspire and educate young Indigenous people that undertaking a career in engineering can create vast opportunities for them, their family and community. A pilot will be implemented in partnership with two First Nations communities in Far North Queensland, followed by an evaluation and reflection ahead of scaling the program.
‘SPASE 2.0’ – The sky is no longer the limit for Queensland’s disadvantaged students
SPASE 2.0 is an expansion of the Griffith University’s School STEM Program About Space Exploration (SPASE) project targeting rural, remote and disadvantaged schools. SPASE 2.0 will target disadvantage communities in the Logan area and partner with regional universities and schools to create ‘TRISAT QLD’ – a small satellite capable of gathering real-time data on directional fluctuations of the Earth’s magnetic field. The data gathered will have significance in a range of applications and will be made available to all Queensland schools and research organisations. The project involves an ongoing series of activities and events to design, fabricate and ultimately launch ‘TRISAT QLD’ into low earth orbit as part of a future Gilmour Space rocket launch from the Bowen Orbital Spaceport in North Queensland.
'Through the Looking Glass' event series
Capricorn Caverns Pty Ltd
The ‘Through the Looking Glass’ event series will present free community activities at Capricorn Caverns that showcase the amazing natural world, viewed through different lenses. Participants will use telescopes and binoculars for the ‘Under the Stars’ astronomy tour to view the night sky. As part of the ‘Micro Life’ tour participants will use magnifying glasses, binoculars and microscopes to view flora and invertebrate fauna around the cave system and dry rainforest, before taking a closer look at it under the microscope. Scientists will demonstrate how to use the equipment to view various natural organisms and engage with participants on the value of observing the natural world. The activities will increase awareness of different areas of science in the local area including astronomy, biology and ecology.
Making a splash in STEM! Marine robotics in schools
James Cook University
The Deep Reef Ecology research group, based at James Cook University, has developed new methods to conduct fish and coral surveys using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on coral reefs below the limits of SCUBA diving surveys. The team will host a series of hands-on marine robotics workshops for local primary and high school students, providing them the opportunity to explore, discover and experience the technology being used in marine science. Students will experience driving real ROVs and then undertake mini-robotics projects of their own, building small app-controlled robots alongside the research team. The hands-on activities are designed to inspiring and highlight successful career paths in STEM for women and girls.
Mentoring young First Nations leaders in marine science
Reef Ecologic will award a 12-month mentorship to ambitious Year 10 Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS) program graduates interested in jump-starting their career in marine science. This program will reduce barriers limiting First Nations peoples to contribute to and engage in marine research and management and aims to build capacity and knowledge. The program will include an individual work experience project, provide formal qualifications, and connect students to Indigenous and non-indigenous scientists, managers, rangers and tourism operators within the region. Trainees will be awarded scholarships to Reef Ecologic’s annual reef leadership workshop as well as invitations to all Reef Ecologic events and weekly team meetings.
Revolutionising farming: exploring technology and innovation in agriculture through precision farming and drones
Mackay State High School
Mackay State High School will hold a series of activities designed for high school students to learn about the application of technology and innovation in agriculture, specifically in the sugar cane and livestock farming industries. The project will involve a combination of classroom learning, hands-on activities, and field trips to farms to collect data using precision agriculture technologies and drones. Students will use their data analysis skills to interpret and evaluate the effectiveness of these technologies in optimising crop yields, livestock management and mitigating the impacts of climate change on the industry. The project aims to engage students in STEM education while promoting their understanding of the important role of technology and innovation in shaping the future of agriculture.
Samford peri-urban super site open day event
The University of Queensland
The Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), is Australia’s only long-term environmental monitoring project and dedicated repository for continental-scale data on changes in ecosystems. TERN seeks to offer a meaningful contribution to this problem via hosting an open day which will enable the general public, higher education students and other stakeholders access to its Samford peri-urban SuperSite. This event will showcase the research infrastructure and data collected at the site by premiering an interactive science self-guided discovery trail. At various junctures on the trail, QR codes will enable participants to access suggested site-based activities, data visualisations and explanatory videos. Participants can also engage with scientific experts who will be present on the day. After the event, it is envisaged that this trail will remain a permanent fixture for future students, visitors, open days and events.
STEM-tastic hosted by TTL
Townsville Toy Library
The Townsville Toy Library is celebrating all things science by hosting a free action-packed interactive morning of STEM related activities for children aged between 4-12 years. Curious minds will be engaged in morning of fun science, engineering, coding and creative and critical thinking activities. speakers. There will be several guest speakers who are working in STEM, including some First Nations backgrounds, who will talk about why they chose their career, and the positive and exciting things they get to do in their job. Children will have access to all the STEM toys from the amazing library collection, interactive displays and costumes for children to dress up in appropriate STEM focused outfits.
What can you see in the creek
In 2023 Kuranda Envirocare will complete 10 years of running a citizen science frog monitoring project on the Critically Endangered Litoria myola (Kuranda Tree Frog). This project aims to introduce students and the community to the value of this type of long-term monitoring. A new citizen activity, macro invertebrate surveys, will be introduced to improve the overall monitoring program and with the additional data providing a more comprehensive analysis of the health of the waterway. A series of workshops, seminars and talks will be run to connect the community to this project and other citizen science projects occurring in Far North Queensland. Macro invertebrate experts will be involved in the design and running of this new survey.
DNA Detectives – what wildlife visits my school?
The University of Queensland
The University of Queensland will run a series of activities where secondary students and their science teachers learn about eDNA technology. Students will conduct a sampling activity using user-friendly airborne eDNA kits to detect the presence of animals at their schools. These samples will be analysed by the university, with teachers and students then conducting a forensic investigation in class, learning how to interrogate DNA libraries. At the end of the project the findings from all schools involved will be summarised and shared at an event.
Sunshine Coast Bioblitz 2023 (#SCB23)
A Sunshine Coast wide Bioblitz event will be run in 2023, bringing to together experts and members of the community to work together to discover, document and learn about the species that call this region home. The event will highlight both the immense biodiversity spread across the Sunshine Coast in the flourishing spring time, as well as to engage the public in science and nature learning using the citizen science platform iNaturalist. At 8 events across the BioBlitz, naturalists will lead participants, some who may have spent little time in nature, to document biodiversity, exposing people to the outdoors in a new way.
INSPIRE: Integrated NeuroScience Program for Indigenous Research and Education
The University of Queensland
This project will give Indigenous high school students the chance to interact with scientists, learn what scientists do, and appreciate how scientific discoveries help shape the world, ultimately, to inspire them to pursue science through school and beyond. It will improve Indigenous children's awareness of brain injury and brain science, and how the work scientists do can improve the lives of people living with brain injuries and disorders. The project includes Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) researchers visiting the schools to answer students' questions and talk about their work and the value and wonder of science and a student excursion to QBI to learn about brain research. There will also be 6 short, paid internships for students available.
Building community capacity and involvement in threatened species research in South East Queensland
Friends of Parks Queensland Incorporated
Friends of Parks Queensland is organising 3 threatened species field days at Burleigh Heads, Hervey Bay and Mount Tamborine. Each event will involve presentations and guided surveys by experts, who will focus on a suite of site-specific threatened species. The primary goal of these field days is to increase the capacity of each local Friends Of group to undertake threatened species research. By connecting community-based Friends Of groups with scientists, knowledge of threatened species distributions can be improved and the capabilities of these groups in identifying, recording, and reporting threatened (and common) species sightings enhanced.
This project will engage with local schools and universities and provide an opportunity for students to connect with scientists in the conservation field.
STEM employability training workshops for First Nations women and women of Colour
Blaq Diamonds Womens Empowerment
This project is a capacity-building program designed to encourage First Nations women and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to consider a career in STEM. Two workshops will be delivered. The first is designed for female students in Year 10-12, and will encourage them to consider a STEM career, showcasing various options and pathways, and what it entails to become a STEM professional. The second workshop is designed for women who are undertaking a STEM degree or already have one and will focus on increasing their employability skills including resume writing, cover letter writing and profile building to gain employment in STEM.
Even More – Bugs to the rescue … and rescuing bugs! (even more…bugs)
Mooloolah River Waterwatch and Landcare Inc.
This project will focus on the essential role that bugs play in controlling invasive weeds in the waterways and habitat loss for key pollinators. The community and scientists will be brought together in youth-based activities such as after-school bug clubs and in community activities for all ages. There will be a focus on meaningful citizen science action through hands-on field experiences, and engaging with scientists in monitoring, restoring and creating new habitats for pollinators in catchments, community spaces and residences. The project seeks to enhance the health of the Mooloolah River and its environs.
Buraligim Weiber expansion
The Buraligim Weiber (Place of Learning) is a program where Year 4 Indigenous students from Gladstone local schools are immersed in a program centred around the land and the sea. Students experience first-hand science alongside experts in their fields, including First Nations peoples. The aims of the program are to increase engagement with school and science, improve absenteeism and improve academic results for these Indigenous children. The program engages with citizen science groups who provide sessions on tackling the issue of sustainability, raising interest and awareness of STEM careers and gives participants the opportunity to engage with scientists.