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High flyers at Luna Park

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Over two days in November Luna Park and the Palais Theatre in St Kilda Melbourne hosted over 1400 schoolgirls and 80 teachers attending the inaugural AIR4 initiative which introduced girls to STEAM subjects’ potential to launch them into a career in technology and perhaps defence aviation.

AIR4 Life exposed students to 115 female mentors from Defence Science and Technology, Royal Australian Air Force, industry bodies and leading education organisations such as RMIT University and the Defence Science Institute to encourage girls into pursuing STEAM subjects.

The event featured the launch of Jasper; a cutting-edge, award-winning animation created by Animal Logic Academy and Air Force designed to spark girls’ interests in aviation and other technical careers. Recently awarded Gold at the prestigious 2018 Animation Effect Awards and Festival,

Jasper was created in a partnership between Air Force and Animal Logic Academy at UTS Sydney. PhD researcher, Simon Rippingale and a group of final-year students developed the animation, using both traditional animation techniques and technology such as robotics and 3D printing.

Jasper’s character is based on Squadron Leader Jacqueline Killian, who is also the voice of Jasper and her personal story, career achievements, and participation were central in developing the Jasper animation.

“Squadron Leader Killian’s story highlights how one young person’s dream to fly became a reality through a solid mix of science, determination and courage,” said Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull.

The students looked into designing energy-efficient carousels, learned  about driverless cars and brought ghost trains into the 21st century,

Each participant accessed a personalised program via an app, which will include an event map and schedule and made their way through the itinerary of activities, separated into individual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics zones.

The Science zone featured the Spider ride, encouraging students to move in circles and think about making complex patterns out of simple shapes while the Technology zone featured the Sky Rider, where students learned about the laws of physics through the motions of a ferris wheel.

The Engineering zone featured the Scenic Railway, giving students the opportunity to learn about kinetic energy on the downward plunge of the roller coaster and he Mathematics zone featured Top Drop, where students will learn about the force of gravity and the Technology Showcase featured demonstrations like the paper plane challenge, where students will learn about velocity.

Established in 2018, the AIR4 – Aiming for Impactful Results - initiative is a four-year program committed to increasing the number of students undertaking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects, to encourage gender diversity in STEM-based careers.

The initiative is funded by Defence Science and Technology and Royal Australian Air Force. It is also sponsored by RMIT University, Defence Science Institute and several industry partners.

Remember, of 15-year-old girls, 33% do not think maths will help them with later study, compared to 20% of 15-year-old boys and 24% of 15-year-old girls do not think maths will help them get a job, compared to 16% of 15-year-old boys.

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