Screen-printing batteries

Ultra-thin, flexible screen-printed batteries for cheap portable devices and intermittent renewable energy are coming closer closer to reality because of a joint University of NSW-University of Queensland project to further develop technology by battery energy storage firm Printed Energy and bring it to market.

Printed Energy is a Brisbane company with patented technologies in printing batteries and photovoltaics and a laboratory in Arizona focused on energy storage and materials science.

The $12 million project received a grant of $2 million from the Cooperative Research Centres Projects scheme.

Printed Energy’s solid state batteries are a thin, flexible format – printed in a roll-to-roll process like a newspaper – that can be adapted to almost any shape. It has potential applications in powering everything from disposable medical devices, smart cards and wearable electronics to large-scale solar panels and energy storage.

“The highly innovative and unique nature of this technology makes it ideal for powering sensors, devices for the Internet or Things, disposable healthcare devices and eventually, even for large-scale application to help manage the intermittent nature of electricity generated by solar panels,” said Mr Rodger Whitby, CEO of Printed Energy.

Professor Mark Hoffman FTSE, UNSW’s Dean of Engineering, agreed.

“Storage has been the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to renewable energy. The world is crying out for storage solutions, and this partnership has the potential to deliver on that urgent need. What’s exciting is that this technology also has immediate applications in wearables and small-scale devices.”

Professor Chris Greig FTSE, Director of University of Queensland’s Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and the UQ Energy Initiative, is also excited about the potential.

“Australia has seen a decline in manufacturing industries in recent decades. This technology represents not just an opportunity for us to be involved in cutting-edge science and innovation, but presents a real opportunity for the next generation of Australian manufacturing.

“Our mission is to foster and facilitate advances in science and engineering which are technologically, economically and socially sustainable. This project fits the bill perfectly and the range of applications is probably only limited by our imaginations,” he added.

First applications of the technology will be in small-scale devices, with development work in large-scale uses to be explored by the partners over the next three years.

World Solar Car Challenge

The 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge gets underway in Darwin this Sunday 8 October. Over 40 teams are racing from Darwin to Adelaide in this biannual event, including seven from Australia. The leading cars are expected to arrive in Adelaide by 12 October.



You can find out more and follow the race at:

STELR would like to wish the best of luck to all teams participating. 

SA Space School launched during International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide

This week the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide attracted over 4000 delegates from all over the world. Teachers and students were among the delegates, with parallel programs being organised by the South Australian Deparment of Education.

Registered teachers could attend for a very reduced fee and the ATSE SA Division along with the Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Fund provided sponsorship to cover the registration of 12 teachers.

STELR Program manager, Pennie Stoyles presented two sessions to teachers entitled STELR – Sustainability in Space on two evenings of the congress. STELR Renewable Energy and Sustainable Housing equipment were used to discuss the issues of travelling in space and terraforming Mars or the Moon.

To coincide with the conference, STELR school, Hamilton Secondary College in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, officially opens the South Australian Space School housed on its grounds today. Hamilton Secondary College was one of the first schools to receive STELR equipment becoming a STELR School in 2010.

Tony Virgo from Hamilton Secondary College at the IAC, demonstrating Pipehenge. Photo: ATSE/P Stoyles

Tony Virgo from Hamilton Secondary College at the IAC, demonstrating Pipehenge.
Photo: ATSE/P Stoyles

STEM programs feature in UNESCO Education Prize

STELR would like to congratulate the winners of the 2017 UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education.

Image credit: UNESCO

Image credit: UNESCO

The two 2017 laureates were:

The Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities Center in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (DEPDC/GMS)

This program, based in northern Thailand, seeks to prevent child trafficking through protection, education and life-skills training.

The Mini Academy of Science and Technology (MaCTec)

This Peruvian organisation aims to create the first generation of female scientists in Peru who can change the world and close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Also given a special mention was WomEng, from South Africa, which is a multi-award winning social enterprise working since 2006 to develop girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and women engineering leaders.

You can find out more about the prize here.

Inspiring Science Stories

At the UNESCO Girls Education in Science Conference, Pennie Stoyles met Fanuel Muindi from Harvard Faculty of Arts and Science. Fanuel has a think-tank called STEM Education Advocacy Group which conducts advocacy research that leads to the development of new ideas, tools, and insights to support trainees, organizations, and policy makers in science around the world. One of the group's projects is an on-line publication called Stories in Science, which encourages STEM professionals from all over the world to publish their own stories.

Fanuel says: "I think teachers are the key in truly unlocking the potential of these stories. We are calling it 'story-based instruction' where students are taught with stories in science. Stories of struggle. Stories of discovery. Stories of failure. Stories of success. Stories of the unknown.

Summer schools for STEM teachers

This coming January there will be a number of opportunities for teachers to attend STEM summer schools.

National Science Teachers’ Summer School (NSTSS) 

Operating for over ten years, the NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School is a week-long professional development program for secondary teachers across Australia running from 8-12 January 2018.  Teachers participate in enquiry-based workshops and activities that allow them to explore STEM in a hands-on manner.  The NTSS program aims to bring STEM to life in an engaging multidisciplinary manner that can be replicated in any classroom.

There are two schools running concurrently from 8 – 12 January. One in Canberra at ANU and one in Brisbane at UQ. Both programs are run in conjunction with scientists and researchers at the respective universities.

STEM X Academy

The STEM X Academy is a five-day residential teacher professional learning program open to Australian teachers across all sectors and levels of experience. Held in Canberra from 7-12 January 2018, STEM X Academy is run in partnership with the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), Questacon and CSIRO.

STARportal launched

STELR Star Portal.PNG

Last month, Peter Pentland attended the launch of STARportal at Parliament House in Canberra.

The STARportal is Australia’s first centralised national portal for exciting and engaging STEM activities from around the country. This searchable database connects parents, students and teachers with their local and online STEM activities in real time.

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO  launched STARportal at Parliament House in Canberra, as part of National Science Week. Australia’s Chief Scientist and STELR architect, Dr Alan Finkel AM spoke at the launch saying “Science doesn’t start and stop at the classroom door – it’s everywhere. But if families and teachers don’t know about these programs, our students miss out,”

Students from Melrose High School (a STELR school) along with their teacher Geoff McNamara were on hand to demonstrate STARportal.

STELR resources are among over 330 entries on the searchable database.

Indigenous STEM Awards

CSIRO Ingig snip.PNG

The CSIRO has announced that nominations will be opening in October and November for the 2017 Indigenous STEM Awards for students, teachers, schools and STEM professionals. The award winners will be announced nationally in March 2018. All Award winners will be invited to act as Indigenous STEM ambassadors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth during 2018.

UNESCO - Girls' Education in STEM

STELR Program manager, Pennie Stoyles, was invited to attend and present at UNESCO’s International Symposium and Policy Forum on ‘Cracking the Code: Girls’ Education in STEM’ in Bangkok between Aug 28-30.

This event brought together nearly 350 delegates from over 70 countries including: the Ministry of education and other officials; education practitioners and educators; researchers and experts; representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations; development partners; civil society representatives; private sector stakeholders and others. 

The symposium coincided with the launch of a paper by Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO.

The report found that:

‘Despite advances in getting girls into school, significant gender disparities persist. Socio-economic, cultural and other obstacles still prevent female learners from completing or benefiting fully from good quality education of their choice in many settings. Globally, there is a stark gender divide in STEM fields, not only diminishing personal dreams, but obstructing global development.'

Key findings of the report can be found here.