Innovative young minds from high schools across the Fraser Coast have showcased their scientific skills and knowledge at the 2017 Science Research Awards hosted by USC.

Covering diverse topics from slime making to the antimicrobial qualities of heavy metals, about 40 Year 7, 11 and 12 students presented their research to a judging panel of scientists and academics at USC’s Fraser Coast campus on 26 October.

The awards are an initiative of the Queensland STEM Education Network, of which USC is a partner and aim to encourage interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) among secondary students.

USC STEM Project Officer Sue Lanham said the competition challenged students to carry out a scientific investigation of real world issues and challenges and present their answers in a poster display.

Riverside Christian College Year 12 student Mikaela Bell was the Fraser Coast’s overall winner, taking out the Senior Scientist award with her research into the ability of heavy metals to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms.

Another star performer was Urangan State High School captain Jimmy Jan, whose wind power research project was awarded first prize in the Year 12 category, and placed third in the high-speed ‘Three Minute to Win It’ challenge.

With only three minutes on the clock and one PowerPoint slide allowed, the competition challenged senior students to be brilliant but brief as they explained their projects to the judges and audience.

Ms Lanham said the Science Research Awards helped to raise students’ awareness of the importance of STEM education and careers.

“It is predicted that 75 percent of all future jobs will require STEM literacy and skills,” she said.

“Engaging with STEM opportunities helps to develop imagination, curiosity, critical thinking, problem solving and analytical abilities, which are all critical skills for workplaces of the future.”

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