EYES ON THE FUTURE: Sharvani McCoombes hopes the new building will encourage more girls to take an interest in STEM.
EYES ON THE FUTURE: Sharvani McCoombes hopes the new building will encourage more girls to take an interest in STEM.

New building paves way for aspiring scientist

PROSERPINE State High School student Sharvani McCoombes has big dreams of being a scientist.

Now, with the official opening of the school's STEM building, she can get a head start on her career path.

The $8.5 million state-of-the-art building was officially unveiled today with flexible classrooms that are kitted out with SMART whiteboards and hearing augmentation.

The two-storey learning centre is also home to three specialist classrooms targeting STEM as well as the STEM club where students have so far coded and tested their very own robots, and Sharvani can't wait to make the most of the new facilities.

"Science at school was always a passion of mine and once the school opened up this building we had more programs, like the STEM program that I'm a part of," she said.

"It opened up my view that there's way more things that our school has to offer and there's way more things that I can do in my future that can help and benefit our world.

"There are things that they're applying here that's university level and STEM club is showing us technology that students haven't had before."

School captains Aiden Payet and Imogen Tulk with member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert.
School captains Aiden Payet and Imogen Tulk with member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert.

The building was opened this morning by Assistant State Development Minister and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert, who said the new facility was a far cry to those she grew up in.

"When I went to school every classroom was the same … it depended on how creative your teacher was as to what your classroom looked like," she said.

"(The STEM building) has got beautiful little breakout areas and window seats in some of the classrooms … there's just so many possibilities and so many different ways that the classrooms can be used and cater to individual students.

"When students are given the opportunity to work in buildings that have been refurbished or are brand new and can see that the adults around them actually care about their education, they invest in their own education because they know that people believe in them."

The new building will also help cater to the largest student population on record at Proserpine State High School as the school has grown from 1065 students from Year 7 to 12 in 2019 to 1172 students this year.

Rowan Philipson demonstrates one of the robots programmed during STEM club.
Rowan Philipson demonstrates one of the robots programmed during STEM club.

Principal Don McDermid hoped that, as more students enrolled, the school could continue to provide options that would cater for a wide variety of career directions.

"Those spaces and the flexibility of those spaces offer so many possibilities to us about what we can offer subject-wise," he said.

"(It also ensures) that we meet the future demands of education as society changes and making sure that the curriculum we offer is relevant to our students.

"It's not just about the classrooms, but to have the building designed to have additional amenities, additional staffroom space (and) an outdoor area for students really helps us meet the needs of our students in our school environment."

Meanwhile, science prodigy Sharvani hopes to combine the lessons from her spot on Queensland Government's STEM Girl Power Initiative with the new facilities to encourage more girls in the school to try their hand at all things science.

"It's very, very important because there's not a lot of girls doing STEM," she said.

"There's a lot of people who say girls can't do that and it's more like a guy-related activity, but it's not.

"If they have a passion for something, our school has the ability and programs so they can put that passion forward and do that."


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