Girls get ahead with STEM

Georgie Green with students Abbey,11, and Keeley, 10. Picture: LACHLAN BENCE
Georgie Green with students Abbey,11, and Keeley, 10. Picture: LACHLAN BENCE

A new program at Skipton Primary School is giving young girls a chance to develop their science skills and contribute to the preservation of rare indigenous plants. 

The program is being run by science teacher Georgie Green who received a grant from Education Changemakers to encourage female students to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) projects.

Named the Blue Devils for an indigenous plant that grows in the town, students in partnership with the Ballarat Environment Network are using QR codes and GPS technology to map plants in the Skipton Common.

The Blue Devils are able to track critically endangered spiny pimelea growing in the town’s common that is believed to be over 150 years old.

Ms Green said the girls are learning a lot about the rare spiny pimelea through the project. 

“So little is known about these plants; we don't even know what pollinates them,” she said. 

“We have been given a quadrant about two metres square in size that our school will monitor over the life of the project.”

As well as tracking and marking the spiny pimelea, the students are building an augmented reality website to give visitors to Skipton a new experience.

It has been really good, one of the girls' mum said since her daughter has been involved in the project it's all she ever talks about.

Georgie Green

“As part of a three year research program, the main part of our girl’s project is they are attaching QR codes to the plants in the common so when people are out there walking they can scan the codes and it will bring up a page on our website,” Ms Green said. 

“The page will contain information about that specific plant as well as photos of it in flower, while it is seeding and more of that kind of information.”

Despite some initial hesitation, Ms Green said the school has been supportive of the program and the girls involved have developed a lot of confidence.

“I picked a variety of girls with a variety of skills; and at first a couple of the girls were were worried about what the boys would say about being excluded from an all-girl project.”

“I sat down with one of the boys last week and once I spoke with him it changed his mindset, he understood the whole idea behind the project and now everyone loves it.”