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JA welcomes Australian Space Agency to guest-judge and inspire local STEM competition students

JA and ASA’s Siân Giles (back left) with some of the winners of the STEM Challenge

Media Release

Federal Member for Bennelong John Alexander OAM MP has just wrapped on the third annual Bennelong ‘Space in Schools’ STEM Challenge last Friday.

The Australian Space Agency (ASA), no less, supported the event by supplying one of their own staff members to attend and be a guest judge. Siân Giles flew up from Canberra for the day especially for the event where the challenge was to design a bio-medical habitat for the surface of Mars.

Siân Giles of the Australian Space Agency addresses the STEM Challenge participants

Mr Alexander said: “Not only was Siân a knowledgeable and encouraging judge, and a fine representative of the Space Agency, she absolutely inspired our local students to aim for the stars.”

Australian Space Agency representative Siân Giles said: “Thank you to John Alexander, Medtronic, and the Re-engineering Australia Foundation for inviting the Australian Space Agency to the Bennelong Space in Schools STEM Challenge to be guest judges. It was wonderful to see how much work all the students had put into their projects, including the high level of thought and quality that went into them. You never know, perhaps our agency may well work with some of these students on the important space missions of the future.”

This year’s STEM competition was notable for the large number of girls participating, being more than 2/3 of the total.

“Especially for our local girls to engage with Sian from the Space Agency, and see that there’s excitement and opportunity in STEM fields, would have made a powerful impression on them. I hope that this event may have in some way inspired them to consider STEM as a career.”

The event was sponsored by local bio-tech company Medtronic, who have been supporting this event since its inception in 2017. The Re-engineering Australia Foundation conducted the STEM Challenge on behalf of John Alexander and Bennelong. Mr Alexander said they conduct many national and international STEM challenges, and it is a blessing to have them engage with local students in Bennelong.

“Thank you to the Re-engineering Australia Foundation for partnering with us to run the event, and to Medtronic for their wonderful support with prize money, but also for providing the space to conduct the STEM Challenge, staff to engage with the students about STEM, and for that delicious lunch, the students certainly appreciated that!”

Tim Fortin, Vice President and Managing Director, Medtronic Australasia, sees the Medtronic Bennelong STEM Challenge as a critical way of encouraging STEM and those who will continue this work in the future.

He said: “More than 60 years ago, our founder created the first battery-operated pacemaker so cardiac patients wouldn’t have to depend on electricity, and our commitment to problem solving lives in everything we do. Through our commitment to the Medtronic Bennelong STEM Challenge we seek to improve lives while strengthening communities and empower future generations to find solutions too.”