Warrnambool GALS on track to become leaders in STEM

Media release

13 June 2022

School-aged girls in Warrnambool have discovered how science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) can be used to fix real-world problems in a Deakin University-led project.

The grade 5 to year 8 students from nine local primary and secondary schools used STEM to tackle issues in the playground and beyond.

Project lead and School of Education Professor Coral Campbell said the Girls as Leaders in STEM program (GALS) introduced girls to the world of STEM so they might one day consider careers in the traditionally male-dominated sector.

She said she was blown away by this year's GALS cohort, comprised of 64 students who went above and beyond to bring their projects to life. Two earlier GALS programs held at schools in Geelong in 2020 and 2021 were also a resounding success.

"The idea is to show girls how STEM can be used to solve real-life problems and give them the confidence to pursue careers in industries previously largely dominated by men. The program includes talks by women already working in STEM fields as well as hands-on workshops where students can put the STEM skills they’ve learned into practice," Professor Campbell said.

"We had one group this year design new accessible playground equipment for their school that was better suited to children of all mobility levels. Another group created a garden with a self-drainage system to solve issues with flooding, while another designed a smart bin that played positive messages when litter was put inside."

Teachers were also trained in ways STEM could be incorporated into classroom learning activities.

Professor Campbell said the next series of talks and workshops would be held in Mildura. A website that houses online STEM learning activities is also being developed.

"What we often find when we run these programs with girls, is that girls are more inclined to identify issues in their classroom or their community and seek to solve them for the benefit of everyone using STEM processes. They have a community-focused and sustainability approach." Professor Campbell said.

A public launch of this year's Warrnambool GALS program will be held from 4.30pm on June 17 at the Warrnambool Lighthouse Theatre. Students from all participating schools will attend and give a short presentation on their projects. To register your attendance please contact coral.campbell@deakin.edu.au

Participating schools in this year's program were Port Fairy Consolidated School, Koroit and District Primary School, St John's Primary School Dennington, Simpson Primary School, Hawkesdale P-12 College, St Joseph's Primary School, St Patrick’s Parish Primary School Port Fairy, Warrnambool East Primary School, and St Patrick's Primary Koroit.

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