Innovation award for Discovery Voyager program

UNE’s Discovery Voyager program took out the the Research and Education category at the Northern Inland Innovation Awards, held at the Armidale Bowling Club last Friday night.

UNE were also finalists in two other categories.

Professor Chris Sharpley and his team in the Health, Aged Care and Disability Services category. They were nominated for their ASD-IT Club, which is helping local children and teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder make positive changes to their levels of anxiety, social interaction and the development of IT skills.

The UNE Business School’s Smart Region Incubator was a finalist in the Professional and Government Services category.

The three projects highlighted new ways UNE is thinking about services in these areas.

The Voyager program has been running since May 2017, taking hands-on, exploratory experiences in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths) to schools across northern NSW.

The team of nine facilitators have engaged with over 8000 students from Kindergarten to Year 10 in novel activities in physics, chemistry, palaeontology, precision agriculture, natural history, latin, exercise science, soil science and pollination ecology.

They have even debuted a theatrical look at the physics of sound recently, which has been a great success.

Program Leader Dr Kirsti Abbott said feedback from teachers and students about the program had been overwhelmingly positive, especially it caters for schools that do not typically have access to such programs.

“Schools enjoy interacting with skilled scientists and educators, and are happy to pay the small fee with an understanding that these types of initiatives cannot remain without increasing costs,” she said.

“Engagement with UNE from a young age not only helps students think differently about science, but aids in their perception of what a love of learning can look like when pursuing tertiary study.

“It is UNE Discovery’s aim to enhance childhood development during the years of greatest change and learning in a human’s life.”

Photo: Discovery team members Dr Christine Morton, Dr Jean Holley, Dr Kirsti Abbott, Dr Siobhan Dennison and Anita Brown, with award sponsor Sandra Royal from
White Rock Wind Farm.