STEM Catalyst run a variety of science programs and workshops for children in and around Moreland. STEM Catalyst was formed when three passionate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professional mums – Arjumand, Faiza and Thasleem – brought their expertise together to spark the love of science in children. They aim to foster curiosity in young inquisitive minds who may not have regular opportunities to learn about the ecosystems around them.
Science with sustainability at the heart
One very important aspect of STEM Catalyst programs is that they are designed to educate participants to minimise their environmental footprints and take a low-waste approach by using recycled materials and biodegradable products in their projects.
Arjumand explains “The life science projects are nature based to achieve simple, basic sustainability goals.”
A program ‘Toothpaste Trees’ aimed at introducing Miswak, a natural alternative to toothbrushes, made from roots and stems of variety of trees including eucalyptus, lemon, orange and walnut.
Through their activities, STEM Catalyst encourages children to build respectful and meaningful relationship with nature. The group has collaborated with the Merri Creek Management Committee, Merri Health and Merri-bek Council to run local workshops.
Reconnecting children with nature
The lockdown during COVID-19 in 2020 did not stop STEM Catalyst from continuing to promote ways that Merri-bek children could connect with nature.
The group ran online sessions during National Science Week and the Great Southern Bioblitz to encourage children to look closer at their own backyards and neighbourhood streets.
“Time spent in nature during childhood and watching role models who care for nature are the two biggest factors that contribute to environmental stewardship in adulthood,” says Arjumand.
A future of local citizen science
Feedback from parents has been really positive and the group has plans for more projects including installation of bee hotels, establishing a water watch body in Fawkner and creating frog friendly habitats in local schools.
Arjumand says that they aim to embed “simple steps to achieve sustainability goals” so that everyone can contribute to a more sustainable community.
How can I find out more?
You can keep up to date with their activities and upcoming workshops via their Facebook page. Merri-bek City Council can also provide information and advice for integrating sustainability initiatives into your local school.