SciScouts 2017: Environment – Trees, Bees & Seeds
It’s fantastic to see so many youth organisations and schools getting behind National Science Week, celebrating all things science, technology, engineering and maths with Australia’s next generation of researchers and innovators.
This weekend, over 1200 young people from the Canberra, Sydney, and NSW South Coast regions made the trek to Camp Cottermouth to participate in SciScouts 2017: Environment – Trees, Bees & Seeds – a mini-festival celebrating all things STEM with a specific focus on environmental sustainability.
The campground was buzzing with activity, with well-organised groups rotating through a well-managed programme of 20 hands-on activities, each for about half an hour. Participants enjoyed everything from looking at tiny waterbugs, learning about the history of the local Aboriginal tribes, making muddy seed bombs, and building wind turbines prototypes (a definite favourite).
After a successful chemistry-themed #NatSciWk event last year, participants requested an environmental sustainability activity in 2017 – coincidentally aligning with this year’s theme of Future Earth.
In response, SciScouts focused on the World Scout Environment Badge topics of clean water, natural habitats, minimising harmful substances, sustainability, and natural hazards.
Branch Activity Leader (Special Projects), Kate Lehane, said a significant focus of the SciScouts programme was handing over responsibility to the next generation, with many aspects of the event logistics being delegated to the senior youths. Even three of the activity stations were conceived and delivered by senior Venturers.
Ms Lehane, said that the SciScouts initiative was all about science engagement outside of typical school-based programmes, and that she has seen significant interest from Scouts groups interstate.
But is isn’t just other scouting groups that have shown interest with over 15 local activity partners getting involved this year. This included several research schools from the Australian National University, divisions of the ACT Government, fire and SES emergency services, and local environmental organisations such as the Murry Darling Basin Authority and Mulligan’s Flat Nature Reserve.
Fortunately, the science can continue beyond this weekend, with Scouts group leaders being provided with activity resources to use at future group meets.
SciScouts is a pilot programme of STEM engagement within Scouts Australia, and shares content openly with interested group leaders. Get in touch with the Scouts ACT Branch Activity Leader if you are interested in running science activities in your Scouts group.
SciScouts is one of 39 projects that received National Science Week grant funding through the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Programme.