Griffith grads rewarded for STEM Punks programs

A small business co-founded by a Griffith Education graduate and which also employs two other fellow grads has taken out the Emerging and Energised category of the 2019 QLD Telstra Business Awards.

STEM Punks offers programs like drone coding, robotics, app design, renewable energy, smart farming, innovation & entrepreneurship and design thinking to students and teachers in primary and secondary schools. Learning outcomes are linked to the Australian Curriculum.

The small business of five staff was started by engineer Michael Holmstrom and Griffith alumnus Damien Aldridge.

Damien and fellow Griffith grads Natalie Anderson and Kara Griggs, who all studied at Gold Coast campus, are the three lead educators at STEM Punks.

“This award means we are on the right track and that we are making waves in STEM Education in Australia,” she said.

“I moved over to STEM Punks this year after winning the QCT Excellence in Teaching Award in 2018 for my work in STEM.

Griffith grad Natalie Anderson holding their award

“I hope that the journey I’ve been on and the successes I’ve had will highlight for education students that there are multiple avenues you can take in your career.

“Being a classroom teacher is a joy and I am proud to have worked closely with amazing students and colleagues however, being an educator at STEM Punks is just a different way of reaching students in an area that I am extremely passionate about.

“I feel it gives me a broader reach to make change in our school system in the realm of STEM Education.

Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies, Professor Donna Pendergast

Professor Donna Pendergast, Dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, agreed the teacher education programs coupled with experience provides an excellent basis for this remarkable work.

“With the changing nature of work, acquisition of entrepreneurial skills and a firm base in learning and education, these Griffith graduates are role models for what we might expect of our graduates where they move into and out of traditional classroom teaching, taking their skills and reshaping their careers”.

Damien Aldridge told the audience at the business awards the recognition meant a lot them.

“We pride ourselves every time we go into a lesson or session that we give the same amount of energy and passion to every student that comes in.

“The inspiration for the business comes from a shared belief where we see a need to reform education and enable 21st century learners,” said Michael Holmstrom.

“We’ve experienced first-hand technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and IOT transforming opportunities for generations to come.

“We’ve also witnessed a school system in desperate need of reform to enable a mindset based on innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship to solve the problems of tomorrow, today.

“The impact these innovation initiatives have had on the direction of our operating business is huge and has opened up a global market for STEM Punks to grow.”