STEM, Solar Cars and Regional Australia
30 Sep 2019
The BWSC Outreach Program presented by Flinders University kicked off the 2019 BWSC Journey, with the Aurora Solar Car team joined by Flinders University to travel up the route from Adelaide to Darwin.
Carrie Moss is part of Flinders University’s STEM Outreach Team, and is also a Flinders University alumni, completing her Bachelor of EcoTourism in 2009.
Carrie has been working in education and outreach ever since, working in a number of Outreach programs throughout Australia.
We caught up with Carrie after completing the BWSC Outreach Program presented by Flinders University, to find out how it all went.
Tell us a little bit about this year’s BWSC Outream Program presented by Flinders University!
We’ve been working in a small team, driving from Adelaide to Darwin. It’s a really diverse team with varied backgrounds - we’ve each brought something different to the team, and to the schools.
The schools have been really excited to see us! The students have really loved seeing a solar car; it’s one of the few opportunities they get to see inside it, learn about how it drives and how it works, and learn about the BWSC and what the teams overcome to get their cars on the road.
We’ve also been talking about the weather station project, using the weather stations from CSIRO. They’ve bene learning about the weather, how it forms, the science behind it, and how the teams have to adjust to the weather on a day to day basis. They’ve looked at the design features of the cars as well, how they have to prepare for different strength winds, coming from different directions before they get out on the road.
Renewable technology is a hot topic at the moment. How has your teachings about solar technology been received by the schools?
It’s been so valuable. One of the schools – St Philips in Alice Springs – has been working on their own solar car project. They’ve been having those conversations in school about renewable energy, and their own solar car. The Aurora team even gave them feedback on their car designs.
We’ve also been having some conversations about changing weather patterns and how that impacts people on a day to day basis, as well as what careers rely on weather data, tracking and monitoring, and how that impacts on students in daily life; deciding on when to go on a hike or camping, when they need to wear sunscreen, what they need to wear of a day…
Over your time as teacher since you graduated from Flinders University, have you seen a growing interest in STEM and technology in young students?
The interest in innovation and tech is definitely growing, and it’s a lot more accessible now than it used to be. The students have got the technology available to them to work with, and they can see people heading into those careers more than they used to.
Teachers now are upskilling to be able to teach those lessons; it’s not just straight biology, physics and chemistry anymore. It’s looking at how those integrate with teaching innovation, and a lot of schools even have their own STEM centres now. One of the schools in Darwin High school we visited has their own dedicated space for STEM.
What made you want to go into teaching?
After I graduated I moved to Uluru in Central Australia, and I was working in environmental interpretation. I really enjoyed taking people who knew nothing about the desert into the arid area, teaching them about the life that was out there, and seeing that ‘wow factor’ for them; helping them understand the value of Australia’s environment.
How did studying at Flinders University help you in your career?
When I was studying as a high school student, I wasn’t the kind of person who thought University was a place I would end up. I took a few years up and realised I enjoyed learning things I was interested in and mixing with people who were interested in similar things.
My course was quite practical – we’d go out and do plant and animal identification. We also did placements each Summer. We spent 4 to 6 weeks working in industry as essentially an employee, working in the industry that we were being trained for. That gave us the opportunity to form networks with people who may be our employers in the future.
What have you enjoyed most about the BWSC Outreach Program presented by Flinders University?
It’s been fantastic getting into regional schools and seeing how innovative they’re being in their curriculum and their learning, and the kinds of projects they’re doing. It’s been really good for me particularly, as my role at Flinders is to work with high school students and assist them in their learning and curriculum, and branching out to the regional areas.
What would your advice be to high school students who are thinking of studying at University?
Follow what you’re interested in. If you’re doing something you love and interests you, you’ll enjoy your study and your future work. Don’t look at challenges as long terms barriers, as a lot of the time there’s ways to get around it, and that support and help can be provided at Universities. There’s different pathways into university, so it’s not something unachievable.
The 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge takes place from Darwin to Adelaide, South Australia from 13-20 October.