Faculty of Science celebrates STEM school program success

28 Aug 2023
Jackie and Gurion
UQ Science Ambassador Program leaders (L-R) Dr Gurion Ang and Jackie Mergard

The University of Queensland’s Faculty of Science has been awarded a 2023 Peter Doherty Award for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

The prestigious STEM Education Partnership Award from the Queensland Department of Education celebrates and congratulates the Faculty of Science’s UQ Science Ambassador Program, founded in 2000 to assist Year 11 students across Queensland build the profile of STEM in their school.

Long-time Faculty of Science engagement leader, Jackie Mergard, established the program and has been delighted to witness its ongoing success and continued support by the Faculty of Science.

“During the past 22 years, over 4000 students and 450 secondary schools across Queensland have been involved in the program, with almost 50 per cent of these schools located in rural, regional and remote areas,” Ms Mergard said.

“It’s wonderful to see so many students improve their communication and leadership skills and go on to pursue STEM tertiary education and careers.

“Through the program they have the opportunity to connect with like-minded students who are also on their UQ Science Ambassador journey, implementing their ideas as part of a state-wide ambassador community.

“Students also receive invitations for on-campus and online events throughout the year, which exposes them to STEM researchers and industry professionals through camps, conferences, seminars, and STEM immersions.

“The success of the program has been in the ownership and authentic engagement by Ambassadors within and outside of their school.”

During the program, teachers, school principals, guidance officers and career counsellors are also exposed to STEM initiatives, through invitations for on-campus and online science and mathematics teacher professional development events.

Teachers from UQ Science Ambassador schools have also received invitations to World Science Festival events, BrisScience monthly public science lectures, specialist museum tours, on-campus residential student camps and research conferences, webinars, and seminars.

Students and teachers have also endorsed the program with words of support.

“The UQ Science Ambassadors have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to promote science and engage with like-minded students through this year,” a participating student said.

“This year’s activities have been both fun, educational, and overall, a memorable experience for all involved.

“We would like to thank UQ for this fantastic opportunity.”

To find out more about the program, visit the UQ Science Ambassador Program website.