A Qld school is using STEM to fight energy poverty

Students from St Clare’s Primary School will build solar lights to send to PNG. adding to more than 130,000 already distributed through the SolarBuddy program.

Thanks to the Origin Energy Foundation and  SolarBuddy, a Townsville-based primary school is learning about renewable energy, energy poverty and global citizenship

Being into STEM is one thing, but finding the support within your school to dive into all that extra-curricular stuff – and use your STEM skills to help others – is another. St Clare’s is one of those schools, celebrating STEM at every opportunity and giving students the chance to tackle real world projects that make genuine humanitarian impact. 

On top of their regular STEM classes, the Townsville-based primary school has developed an epic science, tech, engineering and maths syllabus. And the latest awesome initiative they’re championing? The 10th annual Eco Warriors Day (September 14) – a curriculum-linked celebration between Townsville Catholic Education and Reef Ecologic, in collaboration with 13 other local schools. 

Not just another STEM lesson

Focusing on their roles as global citizens, participating students will get involved in  a day of exciting STEM-led workshops to explore biodiversity, sustainability, restoration, renewable energy and communication.  

This year they’ll focus their efforts on exploring the power of renewable energy in Papua New Guinea (PNG) – constructing solar lights to help kids living in energy poverty read and study when the sun goes down.    

The collaborative group project will see over 100 students involved in building solar lights to add to more than 130,000 already distributed through the SolarBuddy program, almost 5,000 of those through the Origin Energy Foundation partnership.

These lights will allow rural PNG families to reduce expenditure on expensive lighting like candles and batteries, while reducing dependency on dangerous and unsustainable sources of fuel like kerosene, diesel, wood, or candles.

“We’re so pleased to be able to offer an activity that is so authentic and engaging to our students while helping them to develop empathy and introduce them to STEM in a compelling way,” stresses St Clare’s STEM Teacher  Nicole Lennox.

“We thank the Origin Energy Foundation and SolarBuddy for giving our students the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of children living in poverty.”

With only 6.3 percent of the rural population in PNG having access to grid electricity, this real-world project has the ability to seriously assist remote and rural communities struggling to break the cycle of poverty. Such a cool way to highlight the power of STEM careers to make a serious humanitarian impact!

Find out more about the awesome STEM education iniative here


Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.


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