The real world magic school bus

14th April 2020

The QUT Extreme Science Van travels 19,000km each year. Unlike its amphibious counterpart, the Extreme Van drives all over Queensland to provide engaging science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workshops to students almost every day of the school year.

Since 2001, the program has been engaging low income, rural and Indigenous students from Prep to Year 12 and providing teachers with valuable support. The program, which includes everything from using genetics and probability to investigate an alien's chances of survival, and helping students understand virtual reality games and code their own, has contributed to the increased interest in STEM in school and a boost to university enrolments.

Focused on economically disadvantaged areas that have limited access to university outreach programs, demand for the vans has increased by more than 40 percent over the past three years and continues to rise.

According to Kingaroy State School Science Head, Steve Langton, the impact of the Extreme Van on students can be life-changing.

"QUT's programs let our students gain exposure to STEM careers they did not even know existed, and their direct contact with university students has let them learn about university life," he said.

"With the limited exposure students in rural areas have to STEM careers, the value of this regional context cannot be underestimated."

In 2019, the support of donors helped reach 18,973 students through 680 workshops.

Partnerships with Caltex and BMD are helping to widen the program's reach and keep the Extreme Science Van on the road.

Caltex has contributed $5,000 to fuel the Extreme Van for 12 months. The van currently spends close to $3,000 per year on fuel; Caltex's donation will mean that it can travel further and reach even more schools in regional Queensland.

A partnership with BMD is also having a significant contribution to the reach of the program. BMD pledged a $25,000 Challenge Donation as part of QUT Giving Day.

This generous gift is enabling the van to expand initially into schools in the Kingaroy region and will also help to expand the program to schools in areas of North Queensland.

Inspire young scientists

The Extreme Science Van program is helping to ignite a passion for young Australians to attend university and consider future careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The program partners with schools to provide free, hands-on science and engineering workshops every day of the school year.

With your help, we can continue to inspire young scientists by providing vital resources and experiences that schools would otherwise not be able to access. Find out more about this program or donate now.

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