Students put thinking caps on at Cleveland State School

CHILDREN from seven Redlands schools have proven their salt as budding marine biologists by figuring out how to help save Moreton Bay’s turtle population.

The scientific inquiry was all part of an inaugural STEM-ATHLON, which was held at Cleveland State School on Tuesday, September 10.

Principal Mark Ionn said the day-long workshop and competition, which included visits from Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation personnel, was all to pique students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – four skills sets needed for 21st century employment.

“A report published by the Queensland Government chief scientist in 2014 documents that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge,” he said.

“This Cleveland State School initiative was developed in response to national, state and local research.”

About 47 students, in years five to seven, worked in small teams to design sediment control initiatives and investigate how the 2011 floods affected Moreton Bay’s turtle population.

While the tasks required intellectual nous, Mr Ionn said all children were well-prepared for STEM-ATHLON activities, which followed 12 weeks of study into related topics.

Mr Ionn said he was amazed at the “extraordinary talent" shown by children on the day.

Cleveland State School teacher Bianca Seaton, who organised the event, said students had researched the impacts of human activity on Moreton Bay’s turtle population and seagrass beds, with the findings presented by participating children and assessed by a panel of judges earlier on Tuesday.

She said teachers involved in the project, including those from visiting schools, had all made significant contributions.

"This project is a great example of how collaboration between a number of schools in the Redlands can lead to wonderful learning opportunities for so many students,” she said. 

“(The educators) are all exceptionally talented, dedicated and innovative.”

The day also included a visit from Queensland chief scientist Dr Christine Williams and an address, via video, by Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch.

Ms Seaton said guest students and teachers visited from Cleveland District State High School, Ormiston, Dunwich, Bayview, Thornlands and Mount Cotton state schools.