Getting smart with skills at Questacon

Questacon Smart Skills

Careers in science aren’t always about research.

Combining creativity with a passion for STEM is how science communicators help to make science exciting and relatable for everyone.

Find out what a career in science communication looks like with the Questacon Smart Skills Initiative!


Meet Matt

“I thought, ‘what am I going to do with this massively eclectic set of skills that all fit around the vague family of making stuff?’”

Matt works with Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre in a team called the Questacon Smart Skills Initiative.

The Smart Skills Initiative uses a hands-on approach to get high school students to experience science, technology, and innovation for themselves. They run design and engineering workshops in classrooms and maker spaces around the country, where they support and encourage young people to build their own solutions to a range of different challenges.

Matt’s career pathway

Matt is one of the passionate facilitators who works with students as they build and design prototypes during these workshops, but his career path didn’t start with a university degree.

Matt initially shied away from tertiary study and spent years working as an electronics researcher and developer, construction worker, and wheelchair mechanic.

Now, he uses his diverse range of skills and experiences to inspire students and encourage them to think creatively and work as ‘makers’.

Matt and his makers

We can all be makers

“I like showing students how easy it is to make stuff, and seeing pride on their face when they make something,” Matt explains.

“The perception is that it’s hard, because it’s not as good as what comes out of a shop. But they’ve made all the mistakes that you’re going to make already.”

His take home message? “You can’t put a value to the knowledge of how to make something yourself.”

Meet the Smart Skills team

The Smart Skills team is filled with people who have passion and skills from a range of different interest areas, resulting in an invaluably varied group of facilitators. From theatre to science research, teaching to construction, the staff’s differing journeys help them to connect with all kinds of people to share a whole range of skills.

Meet Isla

Isla studied science communication at university, where she learned the skills to share her passion for science. “I really do enjoy telling people about science. I find it exciting, and I want other people to as well.”

“Because of gender biases, science and engineering weren’t something I ever considered. I didn’t have a particularly positive experience of science in school.” Despite this, Isla pursued her interests in STEM and is now the role model she never had for the students she works with.

“I like talking to students and teachers and bridging that gap. I’m drawn to the idea of making science and technology something accessible and fun.”

Meet Dan

Dan dabbled with both science and arts degrees, and spent many years working in science theatre before joining the Smart Skills Initiative. He created a unique career path in the sci-comm sphere that incorporated technical skills, theoretical knowledge, and theatrical flair.

“It’s not about doing things that are relevant, but teaching the skills that are. A lot of the stuff we do here isn’t necessarily sci-comm – it’s tech-comm, innovator-comm… It’s creative thinking and resilience and all these other skills that are so important.”

Learn more

If you’d like to get hands on with technology and innovation, or meet some of the team, why not apply for the National Questacon Invention Convention? Applications are now open for students aged 14-18 to participate in a 5-day, all-expenses paid residential workshop in Canberra!


This article is brought to you in partnership with Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre. The Questacon Smart Skills Initiative is supported by Principal Partner The Ian Potter Foundation and Technology Partner Samsung Electronics Australia.

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Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.


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