KAPUNDA High School students have been inspired and encouraged to engage in STEM learning, following a visit and talk from Clare-based structural and civil engineer Michelle Verco.
Ms Verco met with about 90 year eight and nine female students on Thursday as part of her participation in the federally-funded Super STEM Regional SA program, which sees her visit schools to talk about herself, the value of STEM sub- jects, and the opportunities for STEM-based careers in rural or country areas.
As part of her visit to Kapunda, students undertook an engineering-based activity that involved planning for the redevelopment of the school’s old tennis courts, incorporating calculations for the proposed project’s area, materials and water run-off.
Ms Verco, who, through her employment at Mace Engineering Services, has worked on projects such as the Eudunda Heavy-Vehicle Bypass and Pikes Wine brewery and visitor centre, said the students were highly engaged and great to work with.
“I think a lot of people, and girls in particular, don’t necessarily think about what they want to do when they’re older, or think ‘do I need STEM (Sci- ence, Technology, Engineering and Maths) for that?’.
“But, in my opinion, most careers do need some kind of STEM; even hairdressers need science because they have to mix chemicals for hair dyes.
“So, hopefully, now (the stu- dents) do think about that, and decide that maybe they do need to continue with maths, for ex- ample, especially as they go through senior school.”
Ms Verco grew up aspiring to be a park ranger, but went on to attain a bachelor degree in Applied Science – Biodiversity, Environmental and Park Management, and has now been with Mace Engineering Services for close to 14 years.
Despite being one of just five women, out of 40 students, to be studying her university course at the time, she said she has never found being a female to be a barrier to her career.
“I think the thing I love most (about my career) is that every job is different, and that makes work really exciting,” Ms Verco said.
“The other thing I really like is because I work in the country, in Clare, you can usually directly see the jobs you’ve been involved in and you feel like you’re making a difference to the local community.”
Kapunda High School is currently preparing for significant upgrades, of which will include specialist facilities for STEM studies.