Igniting Inspiration and Collaboration at the “It Takes a Spark Grok Academy STEM Conference”

The “It Takes a Spark Grok Academy STEM Conference” was an event that brought together students and teachers from Year 4 to 10 to foster connections with inspiring industry role models. The conference aimed to provide a platform for authentic sharing and experiential learning, allowing participants to showcase their school-based activities and projects. The event also aimed to create networks among teachers and student teams while addressing social justice design challenges.

At the conference, four of our Year 4 students and four Year 6 students captivated the audience with their hologram creation using PowerPoint and a square pyramid. The girls shared their knowledge by explaining how to record a video against a black background, insert it into a PowerPoint slide, and synchronize it to reflect within the pyramid. Their engaging presentation served as a fantastic guide for students and teachers from various schools attending the event.

The workshops and design challenges at the conference were designed to be hands-on, providing an immersive experience for students and teachers interested in STEM. After the girls’ presentation, Year 4 students took on a challenge presented by St Ursula’s Year 8 girls, which involved creating a circuit and incorporating it into a dance mat design. The Year 4 girls excelled in problem-solving, discussing and experimenting with different approaches to make the circuit work with a foot pedal. Impressively, they even added an LED to enhance the mat’s functionality.

The Year 6 students were led through the design process, focusing on renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and water. The girls designed and built models to investigate how these sources function in practical scenarios. This exercise not only enhanced their knowledge but also nurtured their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

After lunch, all the girls attended an insightful discussion led by Dini Kanagaratnam from Tangalooma EcoMarines and Bree Cremen from the City of Gold Coast Council. The discussion centred around waterway pollution. The girls examined polluted samples from three different waterways. They gained a deep understanding of the detrimental effects of everyday rubbish on the natural environment. Furthermore, they were introduced to the concept of managing waste through the 5R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle, and rot. This session highlighted the importance of environmental protection and inspired the participants to make a positive impact on their surroundings.

The “It Takes a Spark Grok Academy STEM Conference” was a success, offering an immersive learning experience for all participants. The engaging workshops, design challenges, and discussions fostered collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking among the students and teachers in attendance. The event showcased the potential of STEM education in empowering young minds to address real-world problems and nurture a passion for entrepreneurship.

The girls enjoyed the Trade Expo, collecting a variety of items to take home as mementos of their inspiring day!


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Jackie Child
Jackie Child has been teaching primary aged students for 40 years in a number of countries. She is passionate about how children learn through constructivist pedagogy. She is a Teacher Librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School and a sessional tutor at Griffith University for pre-service teachers. Jackie doesn’t believe in standing still, there is always plenty to ‘do’ and learn!