Making science fun for school students is not easy. But given the changing climate, the future of the Pacific Islands depends on young people, teachers and communities having the resources, connections and ability to harness Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills.
Science Circus Pacific is a travelling STEM education program that is free for participants. With support from the Australian Government ($500,000, 2018-2021), Science Circus Pacific will deliver a range of activities spanning the STEM disciplines in schools, universities, communities and beyond. The program is an initiative of the Australian National University in partnership with the University of the South Pacific, Fiji National University and other Pacific universities and NGOs.
The program team explores the basics of climate change and other STEM themes at fun and learning-focused outreach events across the region. The whole community is invited to learn about fossil fuel combustion and chemical reactions through entertaining experiments with exploding candy containers, flying bottle rockets and even marshmallow cannons! Each Science Circus Pacific event uses low-cost, everyday materials so that teachers, NGOs and other strategic partners can replicate STEM learning activities, including climate change, in classrooms and villages.
Central to the ethos of Science Circus Pacific is the importance of co-design and co-delivery of STEM content, including areas relevant to climate change, in partnership with Pacific organisations. In Fiji, the team ran workshops with young people from the village of Koroipita, focusing on innovation and engineering, with readily available materials. Students took items from their local recycling bins and identified material properties before building prototypes of their own inventions.
Science Circus Pacific will work in Fiji, Samoa and other countries across the region to influence how STEM subjects are perceived by the next generation of Pacific climate change leaders.
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