One role of STEM X is to provide science teachers with a gateway to Australia’s high-end research projects, facilities and scientists. This engagement is further structured to facilitate linkages to the Australian science curriculum and to resources that promote inquiry-based learning in the classroom.

Participating teachers are often surprised by the warmth of the welcome they receive from ‘real-world scientists’, a reminder they are a valued cornerstone of the scientific community.

“I honestly doubted it was possible to link real-life research to the classroom,” said Shane Fagg of Cleveland State School, Brisbane. “But at the STEM X workshop I did just that. Now I have a network of connections to keep the flow of ideas and information coming.”

This ability to link the classroom with the laboratory through ideas and practical activities was a highlight for many teachers attending the January 2016 workshop.

“That’s the biggest thing I got out of STEM X,” said Matt Titmanis of Ashdale Secondary College, Perth. “It meant replacing dry theory with so many interesting ways for students to explore concepts that relate both to their course work and to real-world science.”

For many — especially primary school teachers — this collaborative engagement with the research community also provided opportunities to fill in knowledge gaps and acquire a sense of what is important to science today.

Between the exposure to extraordinary ideas and the influx of new teaching resources, teachers said they were inspired, re-energised and stimulated.

As Rosemary Anderson from New Norfolk High School, Tasmania, put it: “This workshop changes you as a teacher, changes your teaching, and puts you in touch with people who can help you throughout your teaching.”