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Government launches Maker Projects program to fund school and community maker spaces

Four million dollars will be put towards another government initiative to help push science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) learning in schools.

The Maker Projects program will open up grants to schools and community organisations interested in setting up dedicated maker spaces to offer students hands-on experience in practical aspects of design, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, as well as STEM activities.

Grants of between $2,000 and $5,000 will be awarded to organisations to cover costs of things such as equipment, software, and consumables needed to establish maker spaces that encourage experimentation and tinkering in a supervised and accessible environment.

Community organisations will also be able to apply for grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 to expand any existing STEM engagement activities, and link their members or participants to the wider STEM and innovation community.

Funding for the Maker Projects program comes from the $29.8 million Inspiring Australia science engagement program through the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), with funding to cover four years.

Initiatives to get coding into schools and boost STEM education have come thick and fast over the last few years as a result of growing concern around Australia’s capability to keep up with the digital transformation of the economy.

The 2016 Crossroads report from StartupAUS called on the government to expand the Digital Technologies Curriculum and promote entrepreneurship programs in primary and secondary schools in order to ensure children are equipped for the jobs of the future.

Around Australia, the Queensland state government has made coding and robotics classes mandatory for students up to year 10, while the NSW Government’s Innovation Strategy, released late last year, previewed the development of the NSW STEM Foundation to support the growth of STEM and develop NSW Future Skills, a program currently identifying how prepared NSW students are for the workforce of the future and how to increase their participation in STEM subjects.

Among the growing community initiatives is Code Club Australia; founded in the UK in 2012, the Australian chapter was launched by muru-D’s Annie Parker in 2014 and has since grown to over 1,500 clubs across the country, with 50,000 kids involved – Australia now has the biggest branch of clubs outside the UK.

You can learn more about the Maker Projects program here.

 Image Source: Fortune.