Strengthen the focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) Northern Territory’s children and youth


More Northern Territory students participating in STEAM education initiatives.



The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade Business Innovation division is committed to building a pipeline of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) opportunities in order to develop the next generation of STEM enabled entrepreneurial innovators equipped with future workforce and business skills.

The department invests in regions, facilities, and infrastructure to support, host, co-fund and sponsor activities that advance STEAM participation, next-gen talent and innovation, targeting programs at youth including, but not limited to:

Charles Darwin University

Advancing our own next generation of STEM enabled, entrepreneurial innovators

In 2021 funding was provided through Charles Darwin University (CDU) to Inspired Northern Territory to deliver activities to achieve the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade’s outcome of ‘Advancing our own next generation of STEM enabled, entrepreneurial innovators’. The two projects included:

Project 1: Deliver a series of events in the lead up to the Innovation Playground on June 26, 2021 to encourage uptake of STEM in schools and remote communities. Events included:

  • International Astronomy Day 14 May 2021, Casuarina Senior College, Darwin: An astronomy night led by local science teacher looking at stars, the moon, nebulas and galaxies through telescopes and explaining constellations in the night sky. 
  • Inspired NT at Barunga Festival, 11-13 June 2021, Barunga: Inspired NT attended the Barunga Festival in June 2021 to showcase STEM topics to festival attendees. 
  • STEAM Zone at home kits 23 May 2021 – ongoing, Casuarina Library: STEAM Zone kits includes tools, information and activities that fit within a theme. The six themes included: Backyard Botanist, Backyard Biologist, Stellar Star Gazing, Whimsical Weather, Fantastic Fossils and Bones, and Remarkable Robot.
  • Applications of Robotics 10-19 June 2021, Darwin High School, Casuarina Library: High school students explored hands on experience with robots. Students learnt to assemble a robot arm and code the robot to perform specific tasks. For example, the robot could be programmed to receive a sponge, serve coffee, track solar movements. The program additionally included one professional development sessions for staff at the Casuarina Library, plus the robots are now available for the schools to borrow and use in their STEM curriculum.
  • Build a scene 19 June 2021, Katherine Public Library: Katherine Public Library invited members of Book Warriors (primary school aged book club) to read a picture book together (in pairs/small groups) and construct a LEGO scene based on the book.
  • Ready, Set, Science! (STEMfit) 15-24 June 2021, Remote schools including Ngukurr School and Clyde Fenton School: STEMfit engaged with student (remote and urban) to explore using their own bodies and human movement to understand STEM concepts. For example, in using biological models to demonstrate how the body transports oxygen to muscles students could understand how they might run faster and throw objects further. Putting it simply: “Moving to Learn”.
  • Science Totally May – June 2021, urban and remote schools including Darwin, Groote Island (Umbakumba School), Kathrine (Kathrine High School), Daly River (St Xavier Francis Catholic School), Adelaide River (Adelaide River School) and Bachelor (Bachelor Area School). Science Totally is an interactive outreach program focused on education about sustainable fishing. Specifically this support meant new resources, enabled remote community outreach and provided a teachers networking event.

Project 2: Deliver a one day event (the Innovation Playground) on 26 June 2021 designed to encourage school-aged children to explore STEM orientated fields and innovation through targeted workshops, events and demonstrations. For details, refer to below outcome for 'Innovation Playground'.

Support for Aboriginal Business Innovation

In 2019 funding was provided to CDU to achieve the following outcomes through the Aboriginal Business Innovation projects identified through the Aboriginal Innovation Alliance process:

  • Strengthen the focus on STEM for the Northern Territory’s children and youth
  • Inspire and strengthen innovation in the bush
  • Facilitate the establishment of programs to support Aboriginal Territorians to innovate

CDU’s Innovators in Residence for the project were appointed in October 2019. Julie-ann Lambourne and Murray Saylor, of Tagai Management Consultants (TMC), provided expert advice to NT Aboriginal businesses, start-ups & entrepreneurs undertaking innovation and strengthening the focus on STEM for children and youth.

    Support for youth and female STEM

    In 2019 funding was provided to CDU to strengthen the focus on STEM in Northern Territory’s children and youth. Specifically to provide STEM programs and activities, aimed at female youths (aged 25 and under) which offered: 

    • Experience and participation in tailored, appropriate, effective STEM activities (eg STEM camps, Research Projects, visiting STEM activities etc) to inspire interest in STEM
    • Pathways for females to study STEM at CDU

    Additionally, CDU was able to contribute to the following activities due to funding provided by the Department.

    • Joint activity in 2020 with Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL), Dr Carla Eisenberg, on Aboriginal STEM projects for students in remote areas
    • Hosting STEM activities with Children’s University
    • Business development support to North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) via Ricky Archer, CEO
    • Other projects such as RAMP, led by NAILSMA
    Innovation Playground

    Imagined by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade's Business Innovation division, CDU through Inspired NT delivered a family festival celebration of Science, Technology and Innovation which met the following key criteria:

    • Inspire and encourage school-aged children to explore STEM orientated career fields 
    • Making STEM and Innovation fun for school aged children
    • Promote the importance of STEM in the school curriculum
    • Promote the importance of STEM for children to participate in so that they can fulfil the jobs of the future

    Delivered in Darwin on 26 June 2021 in partnership with the City of Darwin 1,139 registered attendees participated in workshops and exhibitions which were delivered by 30 local stall holders across STEM fields including (but not limited to): robotics, drones, science, ag-tech, gaming, computer tech and 3D printing. 

    Surveys were completed by 149 attendees during the event which showed an overwhelming positive response:

    • 89% of respondents rated the event as ‘awesome’ (the remainder rated the event as ‘good’)
    • 50% of the audience stating that this was their first time at a STEM event in the NT.
    • The pioneering nature of the Innovation Playground was evidenced by 76% of stall holders and volunteers

    Further survey data collated from the public post-event showed:

    • 92% of responders agreed they learnt something new during the event
    • 86% agreed the event showed how STEM and innovation were relevant in their lives

    Respondent’s feedback demonstrated a positive appetite for a science and technology focused experience in Darwin:

    • "Surprised to see so many exhibits and they are all good... that we actually have so much in Darwin.”
    • “That it is possible for the kids to be involved in STEAM even up here.”
    • “Mainly attended for kids not myself. Was surprised by attendance and number of stalls.”

    Stall holders and volunteers took part in the event largely due to their passion for STEM outreach. They considered the event a good opportunity to showcase their products and information to the general public.

    • 92% of stall holders who responded to the survey agreed that they engaged with new audiences during the event
    • 80% of stallholders had their expectations exceeded or met
    Young Change Agents Collaboration

    From 2021 through 2022 the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade is working with Young Change Agents to strengthen the Northern Territory’s economic capacity through the development of our next generation of STEM enabled entrepreneurial innovators. The objectives include:

    • Inspiring youth into STEM career pathways
    • Empowering Territory youth with the entrepreneurial skills to identify problems, reframe these as opportunities, and develop solutions
    • Activate city spaces using STEM and entrepreneurial programs
    Inspiring Australia Collaboration

    From 2019 through 2021 the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade has committed funding to Inspiring Australia to provide science engagement activities and events. The outcomes included: 

    • driving authentic partnerships and increased cooperation between organisations and individuals involved in science engagement in the Northern Territory
    • increased STEM capacity and sharing best practice
    • improved diversity of STEM engagement, with particular focus on enabling greater Aboriginal participation
    • inspiring and strengthening innovation and engagement with STEM in the bush.


    News items:

    Innovation Passport - Central Australia

    Based on the success of the Darwin Innovation Playground event, the opportunity to expand the concept into Alice Springs was explored. Due to regional and logistical challenges a ‘pop-up’ version of the Playground has been employed to test the Central Australian market. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade have sought expressions of interest for activity providers to help deliver a new innovation and STEM focussed school holiday program for Alice Springs. Aimed at primary school aged youth, the “Innovation Passport” will be held over December 2021 and January 2022, as of 28 October 2021 more than ten partners have expressed an interest to be involved in the program. The program is underpinned by a tangible 'passport style' document that children take to the various participating venues to take part in a STEM based onsite activity and get their passport 'stamped' to complete the program.

    More information: New Innovation Passport - expression of interest for activity providers


    In September 2021 two half day workshops were held in Alice Springs to train participants on how to build, program and encourage educational opportunities with robots, as part of RoboCup Junior. RoboCup Junior is a national project-oriented educational initiative that supports local, regional and international robotic events for young students. The workshops were a collaboration between the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, RoboCup Junior Australia, Inspired NT, Charles Darwin University and the Alice Springs Public Library, participants included teachers, library staff and robotics enthusiasts.

    The aim of the workshops was to train teachers on how to use these robotics to engage students in innovation and inspire an interest in STEM, and establish a local committee to carry the concept forward.

    News item:

    National Innovation Games

    Launched 22 March 2021 by the Hon Paul Kirby MLA, the NT Series of the National Innovation Games included three events, delivered in April, May and September 2021. The NT Series provided a platform to connect and showcase Territorian students, small and mediums businesses involved in innovation, STEM, research and development. While concurrently delivering unique learning and training opportunities for participants to engage in innovation development relevant to business and the economy.

    News items:

    Strengthening STEM into our regional communities

    Work has been done by a range of Big River stakeholders to form a working group to establish a science and technology experience in the region, which could also services outlying areas. The concept is in early development stages, however existing programs and groups have been identified in the regions who would potentially participate. A distributed regional model could:

    • identify prospective engagement opportunities for innovation in the bush with existing partners in the region
    • design a possible mechanism to organise teenagers to engage with innovation
    Australian Computer Society Big Day In

    Held in September 2020 the Territory BiG Day In event was delivered by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and sponsored by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade. The event was aimed at senior secondary school and university students interested in careers in ICT and technology. BiG Day In helps students obtain more information about ICT and technology careers, and hopefully helps them to make a better informed decision about their futures.

    One Giant Leap Australia

    In August 2019 the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade partnered with One Giant Leap Australia, and the Department of Education to deliver the 'Space, STEM and Your Future' event series to schools across the Northern Territory. The event series featured a number of executive speakers from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and included presentations and workshops for primary, secondary and tertiary students, teachers and STEM related businesses.

    News item:

    Women and Girls in STEM Decadal Plan Champion

    In 2019 the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade became the first Australian state or territory government agency to sign on as an inaugural Decadal Plan Champion delivering visibility for the Territory as a jurisdiction that supports women in STEM.

    Attracting women and girls to STEM and providing an environment for them to thrive and progress is a shared responsibility of government, academia, the education system, industry, and the community.

    STEM in the Territory Strategy

    In 2018 the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade collaborated with the Department of Education on the STEM in the Territory Strategy 2018 to 2022. The response to the National STEM School Education Strategy drives the Departments goals in schools to ensure all young people in the Territory are equipped with coding skills as an emerging essential literacy. Working in collaboration with other Territory Government Departments, the aim is to expand enterprise education and innovation programs so students receive advice and training in newly emerging STEM focussed industries.

    In 2021 Business Innovation meets monthly with representatives from the Department of Education and the newly formed STEAM Teachers Association NT, to collaborate on increasing Territory student’s participation in STEM education initiatives.

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    Last updated on 21 April 2022