Aug 13, 2015

Glowing slime, lasers and lights – 2015 National Science Week

I look forward to joining students tomorrow at Canterbury Public School to kick off National Science Week.

Tomorrow’s event, coordinated by the CSIRO through its Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program, is one of many taking place across the nation.

It aims to reinforce the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education for Australia’s future.

STEM professional Marc West, from the Defence Science and Technology Group will also attend and students will be teaching me more about the science of light.

Glow in the dark slime, bending lasers and light refraction through mirrors are all on the table as part of tomorrow’s lesson.

It’s a timely reminder that investing in education and research is critical for our future.

We know that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations today require skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), and employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other occupations.

Yet in 2012 only 16 per cent of higher education students in Australia graduated in STEM-related subjects, compared with 52 per cent in Singapore and 41 per cent in China.

Labor is committed to investing in STEM, research and innovation to build and sustain the jobs of the future.

Labor has announced initiatives that will prepare our children, our workforce and industries for the changing economy.

Labor will:

  • Establish a STEM teacher training fund to support 25,000 primary and secondary school teachers over five years to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines.
  • Encourage STEM graduates to teach, by offering 25,000 Teach STEM scholarships over five years, to address the shortage of qualified teachers. Recipients will get $5000 when they commence a teaching degree, and $10,000 when they complete their first year of teaching.
  • Provide 100,000 STEM Award Degrees – 20,000 a year for five years – which will provide a financial incentive for students to enrol in and complete a STEM undergraduate degree, in recognition of the significant public benefit of growing Australia’s STEM capacity. STEM Award Degree recipients will have their HECS debt written off upon graduation.
  • Give every child in Australia the opportunity to learn coding and computational thinking in school.

I congratulate the CSIRO on their work in coordinating tomorrow’s event and thank Canterbury Public School for hosting me.