AUSTRALIAN cycling hero and Siemens Ambassador Cadel Evans is encouraging rural students to enter a nation-wide competition aimed at increasing the skills needed to ensure Australia’s future. Rural students can win a set of four FutuRide power generating bikes as part of the more than $100,000 in prizes on offer by creating a short creative video that answers the question – “what kind of future will you power?”
“I remember how hard it was learning in an outback school and this is a great opportunity for rural students to win a fantastic prize for their school,” said Cadel. Born and educated in Katherine, Cadel said he hoped the contest would inspire rural teachers and students to engage in STEM subjects.
“I want Australian kids to have as much passion for science, technology, engineering and math as what they have for sport. “When it comes to sporting champions, regional Australia definitely punches above its weight with names like Don Bradman, Cathy Freeman and Margaret Court. It’s time for country people to do the same in skills and knowledge as well,” said Cadel. Siemens CEO Jeff Connolly said the competition was borne out of the steady decline of STEM participation in Australia. “That decline is particularly noticeable in regional areas and contributing to the under representation of rural students in higher education.”
Connolly said the need to stimulate interest in STEM subjects among rural students was vital for Australia. “Think back to the health issue earlier this year that arose from importing contaminated frozen fruit. How great would it be for the local agricultural sector to come up with a new solution for storing and transporting frozen fruits grown by local producers?” “We all recognise the potential to develop more tertiary industries in rural Australia. Ideally, that’s going to require input from people with rural backgrounds who have had the appropriate STEM training. Connolly said rural Australia had supplied some of our greatest scientists and engineers. People like Cyril Callister, the food technologist from Ballarat who invented Vegemite, or Elizabeth Kenny, the nurse from outback Queensland who engineered a radical new treatment for polio, “Now is the time we need to influence future generations of rural school children to plan for a career that transforms to a high-tech, highvalue economy.
“We all know that it’s one thing to tell someone something but it’s another to show them something and then ultimately to get them to experience something. “The bikes are just one way we can assist this to happen by providing an experience where students can use their imaginations to do something electrifying.” “The most powerful tool required for Australia to participate in the exciting global supply chain, the big global projects, is actually the human brain – and that’s where Australia can excel and can show the world that we are an important participant in the future.”
He said teachers were continually looking for new ways to provide experiential learning opportunities. “These electricity generating bikes help stimulate the student’s imagination. It helps demonstrate what they’re learning can be put into practice. “While kids are steadily dropping away from STEM subjects because they consider them too boring, the irony is these same kids are naturally embedded into the applications of these subjects in their everyday lives. They just don’t make the connection between the two.
“How many times do adults rely on our teenage kids to teach us how to use the smart phone, how to download an app, record a program on Foxtel or remove a virus from the home computer?” Siemens is giving away over 70 FutuRide power generating bikes valued at more than $100,000. Each winning school will receive four bikes allowing teachers to demonstrate the use of energy in a real-life practical application.
Teachers will also have access to interactive learning tools, which promote STEM in a fun and innovative way.
The contest will run from June 23 to August 7 with winners announced during National Science Week running from August 16 to 23. Eighteen winning schools will be chosen from the 90-second videos submitted. Ten of these
will be awarded by the judging panel working on the following key criteria:Innovation – how innovative is the idea? Theme– is the topic is addressed in the submission? Creativity – how creative is the submission? The other eight will be named the ‘People’s Choice Winners’. This means that they have achieved the most likes and shares via the www.futuride.com.au website within their state or territory.
All 18 winning schools will then be judged to select an overall winner, who will be rewarded with a visit from Australia’s first and only Tour De France winner, Cadel.