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A group of Moranbah State High School’s brightest young minds are heading to Brisbane today to explore where the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) could take their career pathways.

Over four days the 20 students from the school’s EXCEED Scholars Program will attend events at this week’s World Science Festival and visit BHP Billiton’s offices.

The opportunity is made possible by the ‘Building Pathways for Diverse Futures’ partnership that BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has with Moranbah State High School.

The $450,000, three-year extra-curricular program is designed to help the school’s senior students develop their future career pathways through mentoring and enhanced education and training programs.

BMA also funds similar curriculum enhancement projects in Dysart and Blackwater.

Tracy Mawson, Careers Transition Officer at Moranbah State High School’s Coalfields Training Excellence Centre, said during the tour the students would participate in a range of demonstrations and forums that would showcase the career opportunities that were evolving for people out of STEM education.

“This is going to be a wonderful opportunity for these students to touch, feel and see the possibilities for their future careers through maths and the sciences,’’ Ms Mawson said.

“Their visit to BHP Billiton’s offices will showcase how cutting-edge technology is enabling advances in integration across BHP Billiton’s Bowen Basin coal operations that is leading the way in modern mining.’’

In addition, BHP Billiton’s Head of Geoscience, Laura Tyler, will speak at several forums at the World Science Festival about the importance of STEM education in developing diverse and resilient workforces who are able to think critically and problem solve for Australia’s future success.

The BHP Billiton Foundation is sponsoring the Street Science precinct at this year’s World Science Festival as part of an Australian STEM portfolio of investment worth $55 million over five years.

The portfolio includes a $22 million Choose Maths program and a $28 million CSIRO Indigenous STEM Education project, both of which are designed to encourage participation in STEM subjects by females and Indigenous students – both of which are demographic groups that have previously been under-represented in in these fields.

The Choose Maths program is delivered through clusters of schools in five regions around Australia – the Hunter Valley, Mackay, Melbourne, the Pilbara and the Upper Spencer Gulf.

The Mackay cluster includes 17 participating schools – 14 primary and three secondary that receive support through professional development for teachers, exercises to reduce student anxiety around maths, annual scholarships and awards for teachers and students and additional curriculum resources.

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