Young girls’ potential showcased in outreach program

Gorokan High School students at the HunterWISE presentation night

A school bathroom designed to combat vaping and vandalism and a website providing teenagers with information on quitting vaping were just two solutions Gorokan High School students developed after identifying issues that needed solving.

The students were participating in the 2023 HunterWiSE Schools Outreach Program which concluded recently with a presentation night, bringing together 190 students from high schools across the region to showcase the potential and ingenuity of young girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

A 10-week program, HunterWiSE Outreach targets intervention for female students in Year 8 that aims to improve the perception of STEM among young girls to encourage them to pursue STEM education in high school.

During the program, students are supported by mentors and industry partners to first identify an issue of concern in their community, and then apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics to develop a solution.

Gorokan High School was one of 11 high schools in the 2023 program and has participated in the HunterWiSE Schools Outreach Program since 2019.

This year, students developed solutions for a range of issues, including a new school bathroom design to combat vaping and vandalism; a website that provides teenagers with information and support to quit vaping; and mental health apps aimed at teenagers, promoting mindfulness and providing positive affirmations.

“By encouraging students to address the issues that are important to them, HunterWiSE emphasises the practical application of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to bring about positive change in communities,” HunterWiSE co-founder Professor Sarah Johnson said.

“We aim to promote the idea that STEM education is both relevant, and a gateway to careers where they can really make a difference.”  

Earlier in the year, the Gorokan students also had the opportunity to visit the University of Newcastle’s Central Coast Campus, providing students with the chance to gain a better understanding of some diverse career opportunities in STEM – particularly in the disciplines of chemistry, coastal and marine science, and exercise and sports science.

The HunterWiSE Schools Outreach Program is made possible through financial and in-kind support received from industry partners and the University of Newcastle.

This commitment to providing opportunities for girls in STEM underscores industry and community support for investing in STEM education and empowering girls, ensuring that the future of STEM is more inclusive and diverse.

HunterWiSE is an initiative founded by a team of female academics from the University of Newcastle.

The initiative forges partnerships between women in STEM, industry partners, and Hunter high schools with the aim of developing positive collaborations, which encourage more young women to pursue careers in STEM.  

Expressions of Interest for the 2024 HunterWiSE Schools Outreach Program will be announced in December.

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