Victoria's next generation of scientists, astronomers and engineers are getting real hands-on experience of what it is like to work in the space industry at Australia's only dedicated space education centre, the Victorian Space Science Education Centre as part of National Science Week.
Colonising Mars is the topic of this year's National Science Week, the program is giving 72 high school students the opportunity to take on different scientific roles and work together to design a Mars colony, giving them the skills needed for a future career in science.
The Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC) is the only centre of its type in Australia and is one of six specialist Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning facilities in Victoria.
Victorian Minister for Industry and Employment, Ben Carroll said, "Facilities like the Victorian Space Science Education Centre is already helping to shape our space industry's future workforce, Victoria is ready and able to lead the way in growing Australia's space industry."
The centre has strong links with international space agencies, including NASA and uses hands-on learning to excite and inspire students’ interest in a future career in STEM fields, including the space industry. The facility includes a planetary surface simulation room, reproducing a small crater on Mars where students work as a team to successfully complete a geological survey of the Mars surface wearing specially-designed spacesuits and act as astronauts, mission controllers and research scientists.
Victoria’s STEM capabilities are an important competitive advantage in convincing the federal government to set up the Australian Space Agency in Victoria. Already, more than 30,000 young people graduate from Victorian universities with science, engineering and maths-related degrees.
Victoria has the experience and know-how to make sure the new agency thrives – with one in five Australian space-related science and technology companies based in the state – supporting up to 2,300 jobs.
VSSEC is a specialist STEM learning facility, one of six established by the Victorian state government. Since its official opening in 2006, VSSEC has used the context of space to enhance the learning experiences in STEM subjects for both teachers and students.
VSSEC is located in the grounds of Strathmore Secondary College. The spiral galaxy shaped building provides a stimulating environment which encourages students to be fully engaged in problem-solving and scenario-based learning.