27 September 2011

Teaching our Future Space Scientists

South Australian students are beginning a path to a possible career in space research and industry with their participation in a $1 million education program run by Flinders University.

The program, which is being funded under the Gillard Labor Government’s Australian Space Research Program, will teach space science to 400 students and provide expert support and resources for 40 teachers.

Opening the program on behalf of Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr, Senator for South Australia Alex Gallacher said Australia’s excellent research base and expertise in the area of space presented huge opportunities for Australia.

“Space is an increasingly important part of the Australian economy. It’s not about putting man on Mars,” Senator Gallacher said.

“Australia’s space industry employs over 8,000 people and there is great potential for this to grow. This program is an excellent way to build the next generation of space scientists and engineers,” Senator Carr said.

“Space is an exciting field and this project will excite and inspire the 400 participating students through the use of high-tech aeroplanes and instrumentation as they plan missions and analyse results.

“They will also explore solutions for real life problems such as the control of feral camel populations and bushfire risk management, but most importantly, we hope it will inspire them to add value to Australia's high-tech future.”

Senator Gallacher said the 40 teachers helping deliver this program were the core of a professional learning network and each teacher would choose up to 10 South Australian secondary students to develop a research project within the program.

“Other partners include the South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services, the Northern Advanced Manufacturing Industry Group, Education Services Australia and the South Australian Museum,” Senator Gallacher said.

A longitudinal study will track how many students eventually choose space-related studies at university.

Information on the Australian Space Research program.

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