Soap and sustainability: students gather for the STEM Aboriginal Learner Congress

Aboriginal school students across South Australia gathered in Adelaide late last week for the 2023 STEM Aboriginal Learner Congress.

Led by the Young Aboriginal STEM Thinkers of South Australia, (YASTSA) the 2-day conference brings students together for dozens of workshops, talks, and activities.

Kylie Maxwell, a teacher who brought students to the Congress from Whyalla, says it’s been a “pretty amazing” experience.

“The hands-on aspect of science is enticing,” says Maxwell.

The Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus), which operates Cosmos, has been providing activities for the Congress since 2018.

This year, RiAus welcomed students into the Science Exchange for two workshops, co-designed with the School of Architecture and Civil Engineering and School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide.

In one workshop, students looked at sustainable access to fresh water, figuring out how to distribute water around a model town without wasting it.

In the second, students designed and made soap with plant-based ingredients, looking at the creativity required in engineering and design.

Michelle McLeod, Education Manager at RiAus, says they were very happy to welcome students to the building.

“We were thrilled to work with Mitchell Odegaard, past STEM Congress participant and a  YASTSA Mentor, and who is a current Civil Engineering undergraduate at The University of Adelaide,” says McLeod.

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