Creativity and Innovation

STEM Industry Partnerships: Real-world experiences to enthuse boys
Dr Brad Papworth

The Inspiring Australia report (2011) identified a need for activities which increase the involvement of young people in science and engineering in Australia, as well as developing their literacy about important issues facing our world.  This need for more scientists and engineers has also been identified by other leading countries.  A key recommendation from this report was the development of programs targeted at building Australia’s capacity, through focusing on youth and maximising their opportunities to engage with both science and engineering.

Partnerships between secondary schools and industry provide youth with an opportunity to engage in project-based learning in its richest form, while making a contribution to society. These partnerships have the potential to bridge the formal and informal modes of learning and innovation: education and industry. STEM partnerships have the potential for youth to be mentored by leading scientists and engineers, thereby gaining an understanding of the passion of these STEM leaders, as well as seeing research from conception through to experimentation and on to commercialisation.  Learning becomes meaningful, providing youth with insights into career pathways and other opportunities for them to make a significant difference in the world.

This session will showcase The Future Project, based at The King’s School, as an exemplar of STEM industry partnerships which allows students from a number of schools in Western Sydney to collaborate with scientists and engineers, designing and conducting long-term research projects aimed at solving real-world problems.  It will involve a tour of The Future Project research facility and an opportunity to meet scientists and engineers. The session will conclude with key lessons learnt and a brainstorming activity so that other schools might also develop partnerships with industry.


Brad Papworth is currently the Director of The Future Project: a unique collaboration of education, university and industry partners in Australia. He is a highly experienced science teacher, educator, and communicator.  Throughout his career, Brad has been an Associate Lecturer in Science Communication at The Australian National University, as well as coordinating an outreach program of Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre.  He has held many senior roles in a number of different schools in Australia and Europe with experience teaching junior secondary Science, senior secondary Chemistry, and the International Baccalaureate.  His doctoral thesis focused on students’ academic and social development and his current interests lie in understanding factors affecting students’ motivation and engagement in Science.