“When I got up there, my stomach dropped…I kept saying, [to myself] I know more about the project than they do, it’s us teaching them,” said Stage 3 student presenter Kate. 

Kate and four other students spoke to a room full of water experts at Sydney Water’s Innovation Festival hosted at The Australian Maritime Museum.

They were representing the Stage 3 STEM Extension class from St Aloysius Catholic Primary School, Cronulla.  

Sydney Water’s Innovation Festival is an industry event celebrating STEM, innovation and water industry successes.

The students presented to over 50 STEM industry professionals and were introduced by Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Stuart Khan, who is also the Director of Australian Graduate School of Engineering (AGSE).

‘‘In primary school we need to build an active interest and skill base in STEM subjects” – Professor Stuart Khan. 

The young student innovators won the National STEM MAD competition for Primary schools and the Mathematics In Context Award.

The group addressed the UN Sustainability goal for clean water and sanitation helping to solve real world problems.

Through local council partnership and a grant from Sydney Water, the students designed an easy to use app for groundskeepers and engineers to water Cronulla Golf course sustainably, using recycled water and that considered weather patterns amongst other variables. 

The Stage 3 Extension students presenting their wastewater recycling project at Sydney Water’s Innovation Festival

Elizabeth Ovens, Principal at St Aloysius Catholic Primary School, Cronulla, says in her school STEM education starts in Kindergarten and students are able to build, develop and apply their deep learning over time. 

“The skills they’ve gained make them problem solvers of the future – 73% of future jobs are going to these students [who] are going to be in the area of STEM,” Mrs Ovens said.

“We are preparing our students for a very different future and this is the way we do it” – Elizabeth Ovens

The project has evolved over the last 5 years within the Stage 3 STEM Extension class with guidance from their teacher David Bugden.

The students represent the future of STEM and the importance of STEM education in primary school. 

The presentation impressed and inspired industry experts.

Some professionals such as Andrew Olrich from Hunter Water Corporation reflected what they were doing at the same age. 

“I think they presented beautifully, it’s really positive for someone to see these kids coming through with that type of thinking, and they’re being supported to go and try new things,” Mr Olrich said.