Students engage in STEM learning at Veolia

Students of Crookwell High School visited Woodlawn Eco-Precinct to learn about waste, including green energy and waste transport, on May 28.

The excursion to Veolia was part of Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM), Industry School Partnership (SISP) organised by Regional Development Australia Southern Inland.

Students visited the aquafarm at Veolia. Photo supplied.

Students visited the aquafarm at Veolia. Photo supplied.

Keith Whitfield led the students on a tour of the facilities. Veolia has 6000 hectares of land used for operations including a bioreactor, fish farm, wind farm, and a Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant (MBT).

Students visited the bioreactor, an open cut mine at Woodlawn, Mr Whitfield told the students it is estimated to take another 30-40 years to fill in. Currently, Woodlawn takes 30 per cent of Sydney's waste and converts it into biogas.

"Students were amazed at the size of the hole and the idea that waste can be used to capture green energy," a spokesperson from RDA Southern Inland said.

Students also visited the aquafarm where Mr Whitfield explained how waste is converted to heat the water.

This process "closes the loop on energy generation" he said. The water is heated to 28 degrees and the Barramundi are sold to a local wholesaler in Fishwick, Canberra.

As well as converting waste to energy, the MBT recovers organics from the general waste stream to make a compost which is used to rehabilitate land at the former mine.

Head science teacher, Felicity Abbey said, excursions to Veolia encourages students to "think outside the box".

"Site visits such as this provide students with an opportunity to become more aware of the wide variety of STEM-related career paths that they might follow in the future," Ms Abbey said.

"Another outcome is more subtle, students see that what starts as a crazy idea can actually become a reality and this encourages them to think creatively and dare to dream about what they could achieve in the future."

SISP is a program that links industry with schools to focus on how STEM skills and knowledge can solve real-world knowledge.

Several other schools are involved in the SISP Program in the Upper Lachlan Shire, including Bigga, Binda, Laggan, Crookwell, and Taralga Public Schools.

Students at Woodlawn. Photo supplied.

Students at Woodlawn. Photo supplied.