In 2022, a small group of students looking for some more co-curricular science activities decided to submit a quick entry into the Victoria STEM MAD Showcase.

In STEM MAD, the MAD stands for Making a Difference and the goal is for primary and secondary students in Catholic schools to use science and maths, technology and design thinking to work on a problem with real world application.

Heidi C. (10LAGA) roped in some friends to make a team: Alice P. (10LAGA), Katiya S. (10LAGA), Sephora K. (10CCTR). Stefania P. (10CCTR) came along and helped out the team with their preparations.

The entry did well at the State showcase and we were invited to attend the National showcase and took out the prize for the ‘STEM in Space’ category, which was a trip to Adelaide to visit the 15th Australian Space Forum as guests of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation.

The group of five headed to Adelaide on Monday 8 May after school and the next morning attended a Careers Passport Session with a range of space industry providers to learn about the wide range of space careers and what that means for earth bound industries.

We had a private visit and presentation at the Australian Space Discovery Centre watching the engineers who were in contact with an experimental satellite.

The Space Discovery Centre has augmented reality and interactive displays highlighting the history of space travel, innovations in understanding weather, improved communications across the earth, understanding life at zero gravity and all the benefits of this knowledge that have come with space programs.

The group moved on to the Planetarium at Hamilton Secondary College where we had a student-led presentation on the constellations. The group split up and some went to Mars, complete with space suits and some were controllers for the mission to mars. The students had a great time and the experience stretched their knowledge about Australia’s engagement with space through the coming decades.

The ‘Mission to Mars’ was a highlight for all but student feedback included:

  • The highlight of the trip was the whole thing.
  • I enjoyed the whole experience because every part showed me something new and different.
  • The highlight of my trip was being a part of mission control and guiding Heidi during her assignment.

Susan Long
Science Learning Leader