Inspiring the next generation of women in science

10 February 2022



As the world celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on 11 February, we took the opportunity to reflect on our team's very cool work – inspiring the next generation of women in science.

 

As society becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the demand for expertise in science, technology, engineering and maths (also called STEM) is increasing rapidly. These subjects are at the core of our business. Every day, our clever teams apply their STEM skills in our operations – it’s why we are Australia’s largest generator of clean, reliable energy.

 

But demand for these skills is not translating into the number of students taking up STEM subjects. And it’s a struggle to attract young people – particularly women – to these careers. 

 

From a desire to do more to change this situation, Generation Hydro was born in 2017.

 

Our education program harnesses Hydro Tasmania’s resources to get primary and secondary school students excited about STEM subjects so they can realise their potential.

 

As Australia and the world transition to net-zero emissions, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, the role of renewable energy – and those who work in the industry – will be critical.

 

As our Education Advisor, Gina Harvey, explains, teaching Tasmanian students about renewable energy and building an understanding of power generation in the state is all about laying a foundation for our future.

 

 

“We want kids to understand, appreciate and get excited by our renewable generation history, what’s happening right now and what the future looks like. 

 

“By connecting directly with students, we can raise awareness of the leading role Tasmania is taking in renewable energy generation and dial-up their enthusiasm for a career in the industry.

 

“We always want to ensure that girls can not only see a future for themselves in engineering but can turn that dream into a reality. Generation Hydro is just the start of the ball rolling in terms of how Hydro Tasmania seeks to encourage more female participation in STEM and growing that next generation of women in science.”

 

Getting hands-on

It’s all about sparking interest (pun intended) and our Education Team has created a range of interactive, fun activities to do just that.

 

Our ‘What is energy’ lesson teaches students how energy works and explores the sources of energy from wind, sun, batteries and hydropower that power our everyday lives and things like alarms, motors and lights.

 

 

Our specially designed and created 3D printed model of a generator and turbine shows how energy transferred from dams to turbines spins a shaft and rotor inside the generator to create energy.

 

“By showing students how we use those skills to produce energy we can put their study in context and open them up to the idea that it could be a career for them,” Gina explained. 

 

“I am so proud to be a part of that. I get a kick out watching students become totally enthralled with the challenge of completing an activity and applying the theory discussed in our class talks. They see that STEM can be fun and more importantly, that they are very capable of applying those skills.”

 

 

These classroom activities are supported by a range of Australian Curriculum aligned lesson plans that teachers can access from our website. We also support events like National Science Week by providing activity-based displays that encourage students to problem-solve.

 

“Research shows that young people learn differently when they participate, hands-on. I see it immediately when I walk into a classroom with all my gear. This isn't going to be a lecture,” Education Officer, Gina Loewen explains.

 

“Students get to solve problems, build and make things, succeed and fail, laugh. They're natural problem solvers, and I love to imagine some of them in renewable energy careers because of that day they built a turbine out of a yogurt container.”

 

Powering kids’ education

Since 2017, we’ve been offering a suite of lesson plans, class talks, power station tours and career talks for Tasmanian primary and high school students and teachers.

 

We have a range of teaching resources and other cool stuff to download on our education website. You’ll find secondary resources available now too! There’s everything from the water cycle and rainfall to the life cycle of Tasmanian eels and how pumped hydro works.

 

 

We value the contribution teachers make to help our students understand the world around them and our program is designed to allow teachers to select what will work best for their students and their school.

 

 

Class talks are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays between Week 2 and 10 of each Term. You can book here - https://www.hydro.com.au/education

 

From education to employment

 

 

Tassie has a bright future in renewable energy, which means our young people can enjoy a rewarding career, right here. Our partnership with the Beacon Foundation is about helping young people transition from education into meaningful employment. Students get up close with career mentors at places like Trevallyn Power Station, learning foundational career skills and thinking about joining Hydro Tasmania.

 

Students benefit from programs and activities that focus on raising aspiration, awareness and skills of young people (and especially young women) in STEM and renewable energy – our science workforce of tomorrow.

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