Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Week visitors at Katherine Research Station

Teagan Alexander, Technical Officer , Katherine

Science, technology, engineering and maths were the focus points of a number of tours conducted by Katherine Research Station staff for students interested in agriculture on Wednesday 24 May. High school and primary school students from Wugularr, Jilkminggan, Casuarina Street Primary and Katherine High attended the tours which identified how these four components of educational curriculum are used every day in the agricultural workplace.

The tours were conducted as part of the Department of Education’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) week.  Designed to inspire school-aged children to consider a career that involves these subjects, STEM week displays the relevance of each topic in an applied setting while demonstrating where such interests can lead to a successful and rewarding career.

This was demonstrated by Jodie Ward, Pastoral Production Officer, through using cattle faeces as an indicator to the animals’ health and what can be done to improve it which all made for an excellent ice-breaker. While hesitant at first, the children enjoyed dissecting faecal samples in the paddock, examining digested fibre length, searching for evidence of internal parasites and comparing the samples from cattle grazing on different pasture types. Callen Thompson, Extension Agronomist, talked about the need to understand soil characteristics so that the right crop can be sown. The students conducted a pH test then got their hands dirty assessing clay content of the soils on the station. Technical Officer, Teagan Alexander, demonstrated different examples of plant propagation techniques, discussed how essential plant health is in regards to food production and what’s required to address nutrient deficiencies in plants. The children enjoyed Teagan’s hands-on demonstration while discussing what food producing plants can be grown locally. To conclude Teagan’s presentation, STEM week tour participants had the option of potting up their own berlotti bean or sweet corn seeds to take home with them.

The tours concluded with Alison Haines and Tegan Dunn of Charles Darwin University, presenting information about training options available at the Katherine Rural Campus.

The children were keen and enthusiastic to learn what knowledge the staff had to offer, much of which was evident through the asking of plenty of intelligent and considered questions. We look to the future with bright hope that a number of these children will take on careers in the primary industries.

Last updated: 29 June 2017