Moruya's Ava Weymans has started the school year with some extra scientific savvy, thanks to a national program for young inventors.
The teenage creative thinker was one of 25 selected from around Australia to attend the fourth National Questacon Invention Convention in the holidays.
The 14-year-old spent a week in Canberra and said getting up close with a 3D printer was a highlight.
“I think it is really important for people who live in regional areas and anyone to have these opportunities, because some schools don’t offer this kind of opportunity," Ava said.
"Particularly smaller schools don’t have access to 3D printers and all this different technology, and it’s just a really great experience and eye opener."
Questacon said the convention was developed for young innovators to gain a practical insight into innovation and entrepreneurship. During the five-day program, delegates worked closely with innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs from around Australia.
"The delegates made strong connections between science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, career opportunities and commercial enterprise," Questacon said.
“Delegates heard from innovation experts and local entrepreneurs who helped them develop their ideas into working prototypes based on this year’s theme, ‘Liveable Communities’”, Questacon’s Senior Manager National Networks and Programs, Tamara Niznik said.
“Participants considered issues in their own communities to create inventions to improve the environment, infrastructure or wellbeing in the area. The inventions that tackled our theme were very diverse, ranging from apps to assist communities in staying safe and sustainable, smart farming devices, and even a Virtual Reality experience to show users what it's like for people experiencing sensory overload.
“Australia’s future as a knowledge economy depends on emerging generations being engaged with STEM and the enterprise skills this brings, so it was inspiring to watch these young inventors develop those skills throughout the program,” said Ms Niznik.
"Delegates are encouraged to continue developing their skills within their local communities through maker spaces, coding clubs, or even tinkering in their own backyard," a Questacon spokesperson said.
"The 2019 Invention Convention delegates are also eligible to apply to become ambassadors for the program, furthering their technical skills and becoming leaders and mentors in STEM development.
"The National Invention Convention is part of the $14.5 million Questacon Smart Skills Initiative, funded by the Australian Government in partnership with The Ian Potter Foundation.
"Questacon will host another National Invention Convention in January 2020, with expressions of interest already open on the Questacon website."