National Science Week

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (11:41): I rise to speak on the motion that you have put before the house, Mr Acting Speaker, that is:

That this house—

(a) recognises that National Science Week is held from 10 to 18 August 2019;

(b) acknowledges the important impact that National Science Week has in promoting and celebrating science across all age groups;

(c) recognises the important role that science plays in the South Australian economy; and

(d) acknowledges the work being undertaken by the state government to increase participation in STEM subjects for students to ensure that young South Australians have the skills for the jobs of the future.

National Science Week began in 1997, and it provides the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Australian scientists to the world of knowledge. It also aims to encourage an interest in science pursuits amongst the general public and to encourage younger people to be fascinated by the world we live in.

Part of Science Week is the promotion of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) in schools. Getting young people actively participating in STEM also has crossover appeal to other parts of the curriculum, as well as all aspects of a child's life. STEM education engages students in solving real-world problems through project-based learning and encourages them to innovate and think critically and creatively.

Families with kids growing up in my electorate of Gibson can be zoned to one of three state government high schools: Seaview High School, Brighton Secondary School or Hamilton Secondary College. In my completely unbiased opinion, these are three of the best in the state, government or otherwise. Each of these schools has extraordinary STEM programs, meaning that families in my electorate can be certain that in sending their kids to these state government schools they are being equipped for the jobs of the future.

Seaview High School is a specialist school for advanced technology and STEM, with specifically built facilities, including a STEM innovation centre and a technology innovation centre. As a specialist school, students are able to work with Flinders University's computer science, engineering and maths departments, as well as the Medical Device Research Institute and the Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology located in the Tonsley precinct, to deliver programs that provide direct pathways to 21st century careers. Seaview students also participate in the Pedal Prix competitions, in which they do incredibly well. The engineering behind some of these Pedal Prix machines that are on display these days is quite phenomenal.

Hamilton Secondary College is a designated STEM focus school and South Australia's only space school, encompassing a STEM innovation academy and the Mike Roach Space Education Centre within its campus as well. The centre includes four main areas that support the space science program: a simulated Mars crater and landscape, with seven different geological zones; a mission control room; a briefing room; and a space laboratory. As a space school, they are the only school in SA with a designated facility and specialist curriculum to lead space education in our state. Partners in Hamilton's space program include NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Brighton Secondary School is currently undergoing a STEM refurbishment, which will see the existing outdoor learning area interconnected with the new STEM learning spaces to ensure a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor learning. Brighton Secondary School offers the STEM Bright Program, which aligns with the Australian curriculum, to prepare students for careers and further study within STEM subjects.

Lessons are collaboratively planned by a dedicated team of specialist subject teachers who contextualise students' learning and make the problems real-world applicable for students to solve. Students at Brighton Secondary also take part in a number of STEM competitions outside the curriculum, including Subs in Schools and F1 in Schools. Mr Acting Speaker, that is what you were talking about at Modbury.

Brighton has twice won the world F1 in Schools competition, beating hundreds of schools in the race for those fast hydraulic miniature F1 cars, completely constructed and engineered by the students, which is an absolutely outstanding achievement. I was lucky enough to be involved with the team last year, Horizon, who won this world championship. Not only do they design the cars and do the cab work and the science elements of it but they also do the actual marketing, creativity and displays that they have to put on on the world stage is truly outstanding. So Brighton is leading the way there.

The primary schools in my area—Marion Primary School, Brighton Primary School, Paringa and Darlington as well—also do a great job in STEM development. A number of people have spoken about what our government is doing as well to develop this and take it from the education side into higher education and then into career pathways, which really is exciting. We talk a lot about space, of course and we talk about a lot of cyber and cyber security—we all know how important that is, as the Minister for Primary Industries is well aware.

When I was in opposition I was actually a co-host of the Science Meets Parliament forums which we would host and which you, sir, talked about earlier. One of the most delightful parts of that role was that we got to hear from Andy Thomas, an astronaut from South Australia who has done a number of space projects, a very famous man and a very highly intellectual man. It was great to hear him speak about the excitement of what lay ahead.

I know that the Premier was very passionate about this and has been very passionate about space. As we look down the road to Lot Fourteen, we know of course that the Australian Space Agency is coming, and we have the Defence Landing Pad there as well. Myriota and the Chief Entrepreneur are based there, as are a number of other businesses. There is also the Australian Institute for Machine Learning—of course, artificial intelligence and where that is taking us.

You spoke earlier, sir, about Anton van den Hengel. I grew up with Anton, a truly brilliant mind. I tried to hang out with him as much as I could in the hope that some of his smarts would transfer to me. It did not quite happen, but he is fascinating to listen to and he really is opening the door for many South Australians, and I commend him for the great work he is doing.

When we talk about science, technology, engineering, maths—the STEM subjects—we do think about that high end and the opportunities that lie ahead for the next generation coming through and how we want to really facilitate that. As a government, our investment in Lot Fourteen is a key indicator of the importance we put on this right through education and into that space as well, and getting people into those industries and the future jobs that lie ahead.

We are also very conscious that science can roll over into all forms of our society. I look at sport, and I speak to my son in particular, who is going through year 12 and looking at career opportunities. He likes his maths. Being a doctor, sir, I take on board what you said about encouraging young people to stay engaged in maths, and I do the same with my son and his mates because of the opportunities that lie ahead. Sometimes young people do not see where the opportunities are. He is a keen sporting fan as well, and I say, 'Look, the opportunities or the likelihood of you going on to be a sporting superstar may not be as big as you think they are', but I wish him the best and support him all the way. However, if that does not pan out for him, what is he going to do and what career path will he take?

When you look at the sporting world today, for example, and the technology and the science around, let's say, AFL football, the data compilation, the stats that are taken, is quite phenomenal. For his year 12 project this year he has done a lot of work in that space, and he has actually used some of the data that has been collected on his under 18 games and tried to formulate what that might mean and how that might relate to someone who wants to get drafted—he still has the hope that he might make the numbers stack up.

That is opening up opportunities for him within a sporting context: how this data and how the science behind the data collected is related to identifying talent that might be good for future drafting, identifying improvements needed, coaching developments. There is a whole career and a whole life in the sporting sphere based around science, technology, engineering and maths.

If we look overseas, if we take that and expand it one step further, Darren Burgess is a great name that we hear of at Port Adelaide. He was their high-performance manager for a long time, and then got poached by an English Premier League team. Again, we see him in a sporting sphere but what we understand is that his background is in that area of science.

When you think about maths and when you think about science, you might be thinking about all these high-tech space and artificial intelligence agencies—and they are very much there for people to take up the opportunity and look at a career path in them—but you can also look even closer to home, look at sport and see that the growth in technology, maths and engineering is immense there as well. That is where I am trying to steer my young son and others who are interested.

You can even roll it over to policing, another area I look after, and some of the advancements in technology and the engineering side of how police work is done, around artificial intelligence; that is growing day by day. The opportunities are boundless. We know that in this place, and we know that on this side of government as well. We want to make sure we are putting the systems in place to ensure the next generation can utilise these, adopt these, and take advantage of the developments and work we are doing through our schools and beyond to make sure they have the jobs of the future.


Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login