KIAS receives STEM grant

Kangaroo Inn Area School has been successful in applying for a three year, $19,000 STEM Learning Career Development grant offered by the Department of Education.

It has the potential to form industry partnerships and develop career opportunities in the South East.

KIAS teacher Tom Davidson said: “I thought it was a great grant to apply for. With the help of principal Annie Matthews we wrote a submission outlining how we could use the grant to integrate our aquaculture farm and agriculture block to be more sustainable and completely run by renewable energy.

“There is a pretty small but persistent energy expenditure down there at the moment, a couple of pumps that recirculate water and irrigate vegetables. 

“With the help of these grant funds we can move closer toward becoming carbon neutral.

“That’s the ultimate dilemma with agriculture and aquaculture - how can we provide a sustainable source of protein without degrading the environment? This is the issue we plan to experiment with.

“To integrate renewable energy the students will work alongside various tradesmen such as plumbers, carpenters and and solar electricians to calculate and come up with our energy needs and system requirements to run the pumps all year round - which will likely involve moving to more efficient pumps and installing a solar panel array and battery combination. 

“We’ll use these career development experiences as well as the construction of a solar panel to learn about basic electrical and wiring components as well as general physics principles such as current, voltage, and amps and their relationships with battery storage.

“Additionally, with the received funding we hope to build a new and improved greenhouse, which will allow the school to germinate and propagate plants from cuttings and seeds for vegetable production as well as native re-vegetation efforts. 

“This will enable ag students to get an early start and to take advantage of the full growing season.”

Students are very interested to experiment with preserving excess seasonal produce through a solar dehydrator.

“Furthermore we are investigating ways to become more accountable for our school paper waste. Due to our rural isolation the recycling service logistics are difficult, so we have students designing a potential composting facility that will enable the school to compost our shredded paper waste.

“The dream is to use principles of permaculture to transition toward a center for sustainable living where we have a small scale working model that can showcase integration of fish and vegetable farming to be sustainable.

“We want the whole school to embrace a mentality of waste reduction and becoming accountable for the types of things we can recycle - with an emphasis on composting paper.

We are really looking to engage with local industry professionals through aquaculture, plumbing, solar electricity, food production outlets and indigenous communities which can set up powerful and enduring relationships and pathways for student career development .