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Nikki Yazxhi

WITH JUST A FEW DAYS LEFT OF THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS, it’s hard to keep the kids occupied and engaged. Don’t panic, we have it sorted. Check out these inspiring STEM activities {science, technology, engineering and math} that they’ll {learn from} love to do over the last days of the holidays, and beyond…

Josh Grace, CMO at Samsung Electronics Australia, said: “Australia’s STEM skill gap has been a national priority for some time now. Many young Australians are unable to make a clear connection between STEM subjects and relevant, inspiring careers. As a result, they become disengaged from STEM as early as primary school.

To address this, Samsung launched ‘This is a STEM Job’ in collaboration with Questacon. ‘This is a STEM Job’ is a national competition which aims to show young Australians that STEM goes beyond the traditional disciplines of science, technology, engineering and maths and is relevant to a range of future career paths and industries.

As part of the competition, Samsung partnered with three influential STEM Creators who use STEM skills every day. The first creator, Antonia Gauci, is a multidisciplinary engineer at one of Sydney’s most successful recording studios. The second creator, Gary Elphick is a surfboard innovator who uses the latest in cutting edge tech like 3D printing to rethink the way surfboards are built. Finally, Mark Liu is a sustainable fashion designer who uses complex formulas to rid waste when creating his garments.

Mr Grace said: “Through ‘This is a STEM Job’ we want to show young Aussies that STEM jobs are not just for people who wear white lab coats. STEM plays a massive role in some of the most exciting and creative jobs out there, including music, surfing and fashion.

“To help Australian parents inspire their kids and engage them in STEM these Summer holidays, we have compiled some fun tips and activities from Questacon and the STEM Creators. The number one tip from Samsung is to embrace technology as a tool for learning. Improving your child’s STEM skills can be as simple as downloading an educational app like Origami Paper SnipSnap or Magnifier & Microscope and experimenting with them.”

Mark Liu said: “Find your child’s passion. The easiest way to help your child learn is to find something that they are passionate about and encourage them to ask lots of how, when and why questions. Eventually you will have to use STEM skills to explain them.

Gary Elphick said “Show them visually. Pure maths can be hard for many kids to visualise so it is important to show them real world applications of how maths problems work.”

Broderick Matthews, National Programs Manager, from Questacon said: “Foster curiosity. Let your children explore but remember there isn’t a right or wrong way to do things. If you let children be the leaders, they will discover things in their own way and might surprise you with what they find out!”

Fun activity ideas from Questacon

Use your mobile phone to create a stop motion video. Download a stop motion app onto your phone and collect bits and pieces you find around the house to be your movie stars. You can use Lego figurines, toys, plasticine, blocks- almost anything- to create an amazing film just by moving a little bit at a time.

Take over your house with a giant Rube Goldberg machine, making one thing happen after another. Use a falling book to knock a ball to flip a bowl to land in a bucket to… the options are endless!

Consider new uses for materials you’ve got lying around the house e.g. recycled containers, toilet rolls, tissue boxes, even used Christmas wrapping paper! These can make fantastic building materials for creating all sorts of prototypes to solve any of the everyday problems you might encounter.

Do you have any old battery operated toys that you no longer use? Discover what makes them move, squeak or flash by carefully taking them apart. Use screwdrivers, scissors and other tools to expose the inner mechanisms. You could try and recreate a new toy from the original or hack two together!

While at the beach, the pool, or in the bath, have some fun with water. What objects float? What objects sink? Can you create a neutrally buoyant object- something that doesn’t float or sink, but just hovers in the middle of the water?

Try growing your veggie offcuts or using seeds from fruits. Place your offcuts or seeds in a shallow dish of water. When they start to sprout you can plant them and try to grow your own food. Make sure to keep watering them out in the garden.

Become a wildlife adventurer in your own backyard. Download the app “Questagame” onto your mobile phone and use it to map animals and insects you spot outdoors in your own neighbourhood. Sightings in the app contribute to real scientific research and conservation.

Move from the TV and find some exciting STEM YouTubers to explore like Veritasium, Brain Craft, Simone Giertz, ASAP Science, Questacon, Academy of Science and more! There are heaps of fun and interesting STEM videos online.

Don’t forget to check out what’s on offer in your local area. STEM activities can often be found at your local science centre, museum, library, national park or botanic gardens.

For ‘This is a STEM Job,’ Samsung collaborated with the STEM Creators to develop three distinct briefs for young Australians to try and crack. Participants could either choose to create a piece of music; design the surfboard of the future or; design a piece of eco-friendly fashion. All eligible entrants have gone into the running to win a one-day internship with the respective STEM Creator to experience what they do on a day-to-day basis and see first-hand how they use STEM skills every day. The lucky winners were announced on 7 December.

For more info, visit: www.thisisastemjob.com.au


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