Abenaya's curiosity with STEM

RGS Year 10 student Abenaya Suntharavadivel is one of 120 girls who have been selected for Curious Minds, a STEM programme for female students in Year 9 and Year 10 from regional, rural and low socio-economic areas across Australia.

Across six months, Abenaya will engage in extension STEM workshops and activities to increase her confidence in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The students will attend summer and winter camps where they’ll get a chance to learn about STEM through hands-on experiments and workshops, explore University campuses and meet new friends. The online summer camp kicks off on 11 December before the students meet face-to-face in July 2023.
Curious Minds gives participants access to STEM role models by matching students with female and non-binary mentors working in STEM fields. In partnership, students and mentors explore STEM subjects, university courses and career pathways while creating personal goals and discussing STEM interests. This year’s mentors include a diverse mix of engineers, physicists, mathematicians, research and medical scientists, medical practitioners, chemists, geologists, and environmental scientists.

“According to the 2022 STEM Equity Monitor, 41% of girls think that they’re not “smart enough” to study STEM. Curious Minds aims to change girls’ perceptions and improve their confidence,” said Australian Science Innovations Executive Director Alyssa Weirman.
“Only 21% of girls want to pursue a STEM career compared to 42% of boys. Curious Minds aims to show girls the vast diversity of STEM careers, and how women are making a difference in their chosen fields.”

Jointly delivered by The Australian Maths Trust (AMT) and Australian Science Innovations (ASI), Curious Minds participants are selected based on their academic performance and interest in STEM. Students should also live in a regional, rural, or low socio-economic areas, or have otherwise experienced limited opportunities.
“This programme switches girls on to all aspects of STEM, exposes them to outstanding role models, and brings girls together in an extension learning environment where they get to know other young women like themselves who are passionate about STEM,” said programme director Dr Kelsie Dadd.
“This year is particularly exciting as we transition back to a face-to-face model after several years of online learning due to the pandemic. Students will have a chance to explore the world class facilities at The Australian National University or the University of Adelaide and explore options for further study.”

Curious Minds is funded by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and is supported by the ANU and 3M. Learn more: www.curiousminds.edu.au