Flying scientists take off

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

Some of the country’s leading scientists have taken to the skies in a bid to inspire students across Central Queensland to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Science Minister Meaghan Scanlon said this year’s Flying Scientists trip would be led by former Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer AC.

“Each year, Flying Scientists, such as Professor Frazer, visit cities and towns throughout regional Queensland to speak about their incredible careers and research in a way that encourages school students to take a greater interest in STEM subjects,” Minister Scanlon said.

“The aim of the program is to inspire these students to consider a career in STEM by providing them with an opportunity to increase their understanding of how STEM disciplines can be used to improve the environment, and our health and well-being.

“The Flying Scientists program was developed to address the shortage of science-related events being held outside of South East Queensland.

Minister Scanlon said science and innovation are helping to drive the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan – whether that’s through renewable energy, advanced manufacturing or our education and research sector.

“Survey results from the 3M State of Science Index show that 9 in 10 Australians back more investment in science.

“The survey results also showed that during the pandemic, nearly two in three Australians thought that scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career.

“Recent research commissioned by the Office of Queensland Chief Scientist showed that 83% of Queenslanders believe science is critical for the Queensland economy.

“That’s why we’re delivering these hubs, together with major investments like $20 million as part of our flagship Queensland Jobs fund to ramp up the development and manufacture of vaccines.”

Minister for Regional Development and Advanced Manufacturing, and Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said the four-day trip to Central Queensland kicked off in Gladstone, before other events in Biloela, Springsure and Emerald.

“In Gladstone, Professor Frazer and a panel of outstanding scientists held a free community event at Central Queensland University about the surprising relationship between sunshine, skin cancer, and the bugs and viruses that live on our skin,” Minister Butcher said.

“Since the Flying Scientists program was launched in 2016, 111 scientists have engaged with more than 34,800 students and community members in 65 regional centres from Cooktown and Mt Isa in the north, to Charleville and Emerald in the west.

“In the last twelve months, the team of Flying Scientists has attended school and community events in Emerald, Airlie Beach, Chinchilla, Gladstone, Mt Isa and Duaringa to inspire the next generation of Queensland STEM professionals and technicians.”

Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Possingham said young people in regional locations need more opportunities to engage with scientists and participate in science-based activities so they can make informed choices about their career.

“Citizen science is a great way for everyone to get involved no matter where you live, you don’t have to be a scientist, you just need to volunteer your time to help out on a scientific research project,” Professor Possingham said.

“April is Citizen Science Month and my office is promoting a citizen science project each day on the Queensland Science Facebook channel.

“There are many exciting projects to choose from including documenting flora and fauna observations and monitoring water quality and reef health.”

The Flying Scientists program is delivered by Wonder of Science in partnership with the Queensland Government’s Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist.

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