Flinders Student Receives Prestigious STEM Award

Year 12 student Laura Webb at Matthew Flinders Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast has won a Peter Doherty Outstanding Senior STEM Student Award, receiving a $5,000 grant.

The Peter Doherty Awards for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education recognise students, teachers, support officers, schools and education partners who demonstrate an outstanding and innovative contribution to STEM education in Queensland.

The award recognised Laura’s work at Flinders in pioneering the Bold Opportunities Regarding Innovative Students (BORIS) program, which extends her fellow students through special projects and mentoring, and for creating a ‘Women in STEM’ ambassador role.

Laura is passionate about a career in STEM, studying Chemistry, Physics and Specialist Maths at Flinders in her graduating year. 

Laura will formally receive her award alongside fellow successful applicants at the Peter Doherty Awards Ceremony to be held on Friday, 12 August at the Queensland University of Technology.

This year marks the 19th year of the awards, celebrating the life and on-going work of Brisbane-born Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Professor Peter Doherty. 

Laura’s $5,000 award grant will be used to further her knowledge and experience in STEM. 

In her award application, Laura noted, “I decided to pursue medicine…as I realised that I would like to be a specialist doctor, possibly a cardiologist or cardiothoracic surgeon.” 

“I believe that I would enjoy the challenge of problem-solving and finding solutions to health issues and the process of surgery.”

Queensland Department of Education’s Assistant Director-General State Schools – Performance, Stacie Hansel said the judges were impressed with Laura’s work in the STEM space. 

“Your success in receiving a Peter Doherty Award is a reflection of the efforts and commitment you have invested in your education and will build the foundation of your future,” Stacie said.

“STEM is a priority for the Department of Education and we are delighted to be showcasing your outstanding accomplishments.”

Flinders Principal Mr Stuart Meade said it was exciting to see the work of STEM students being recognised, demonstrating the College’s commitment to preparing students for Australia’s changing future.

“When it comes to STEM subjects, innovation and design thinking, our students are able to embrace rich curriculum and co-curricular opportunities here at Flinders,” Stuart said. 

“This is how they develop diverse skills required for over three quarters of the fastest-growing occupations in Australia,” he said.

“We congratulate Laura for excelling on the national stage, and look forward to seeing her graduate with the confidence, character and skills for her exciting next stage of life.” 

Head of Innovation Club, Mr Peter Horton, who is Laura’s Physics teacher, said students at Flinders are also encouraged to embrace STEM through co-curricular opportunities such as the Innovation Club. 

“Through diverse programs at the College we aim to spark student’s interests in STEM learning, utilising design thinking to deliver innovative solutions to complex problems,” Peter said. 

“Innovation Club provides students with opportunities to innovate, design, develop and implement their ideas in a STEM setting, preparing them for future career pathways.” 

STEM in the Curriculum at Flinders 

Students from Prep to Year 12 at Flinders are encouraged to explore design thinking, innovation and STEM through a diverse, personalised and real-world curriculum. 

The learning on offer at Flinders is designed to be meaningful, experiential and consequential to the world beyond so that students become aware they are connected to one another and a part of the global community. 

Students learn the skills and confidence to grapple with new and often ‘wicked’ problems that require creative solutions

In Years 7 and 8 students learn through IDEAS (Innovation, Design, Engineering, Art, Science) as a year-long, multidisciplinary course which incorporates the 21st century skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. IDEAS is also designed to challenge students’ mindsets through empathy, optimism and experimentation. 

From Years 9 to 12, students can explore STEM through an array of Science, Maths and Technologies subjects on offer at Flinders, including Design, Engineering, Food and Nutrition, Graphics Architecture and VET pathways. 

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