Some of Australia’s top STEM students and teachers were awarded at the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards, and the Indigenous STEM Awards, which aim to celebrate achievement in the STEM space.
Highlighting the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), the awards showcased exceptional teachers and top school-aged researchers and innovators in the STEM field.
The awards also celebrated the diversity of STEM participation and achievement across Australia, particularly recognising the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM professionals and students and their teachers, schools and supporters.
BHP Chief People Officer Athalie Williams said the dedication and passion these students, teachers, schools and their supporters have for STEM was inspiring.
“It’s great to be able to encourage the innovation, creativity, and critical thinking as well as increase the diversity of a new generation of STEM innovators and researchers for Australia,” Ms Williams said.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall added that the award winners’ and finalists’ ideas could help all Australians seize opportunities in our rapidly changing future.
“The world is changing faster than humans can keep up with, but Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths can solve these challenges and guide us to a better future through innovation,” Dr Marshall said.
“Around three quarters of all future jobs will need STEM and we’re absolutely committed to helping school students develop these skills so they can turn science into solutions that better shape Australia’s future.
“We know that the achievements of the winners and finalists will inspire other students to become innovators solving the big challenges that face our world.”
The 26 BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards finalists have completed an intensive four-day science camp, where they toured research facilities, learned about science communication and commercialisation, and presented their research for judging.
This year’s winners of the Indigenous STEM Awards include Thuringowa State High School near Townsville for its innovative STEM program, and teacher Makhdoom Bhatti from the Ntaria Community School in the Northern Territory for successfully integrating Indigenous and Western STEM into science classes.
Nyheemah Cox (pictured) received the Innovator to Market Award.
A Year 12 student at CAPS Coolgardie in Western Australia in 2019, Nyheemah’s favourite subject was health and she wants to improve lives in her community as an Aboriginal health worker.
Her project sought to identify antimicrobial activity in three different bush plants, to test and validate their healing properties and to support their use in treating minor ailments in small communities who don’t have access to medical supplies.
2019 NT Young Achiever of the Year Rikki Bruce was also honoured, receiving an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM Professional Early Career Award.
“CSIRO acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made, and continue to make, extraordinary contributions to our culture, the economy and science and the achievements of our Indigenous STEM Award winners are excellent examples,” Dr Marshall said.
Ms Williams added, “For more than 60,000 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities thrived through knowledge gained as this country’s first innovators, engineers, scientists and mathematicians.
“We have a lot to learn. It is critical to the future of STEM that Indigenous peoples in Australia and around the world are participating in STEM careers and driving the advances that the world needs.”
Local award ceremonies for Indigenous STEM Awards will occur over six weeks to involve and acknowledge the winners’ local communities.
Six of the BHP Foundation Science & Engineering Award finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their research alongside students from 75 countries at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the USA.
The BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards and the Indigenous STEM Awards are managed by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, in partnership with the BHP Foundation.
The Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) and the Science Teacher Associations (STAs) in each state and territory are partners in the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards.