Brandon Waine, Dr Reyna Zipf, Abbey Downing and Juan Miguel focus on STEM education for primary school students.
Brandon Waine, Dr Reyna Zipf, Abbey Downing and Juan Miguel focus on STEM education for primary school students. Jann Houley

Downing family's at home on CQU campus

ROCKHAMPTON'S CQUniversity campus offers plenty of scope for Emmaus College senior Abbey Downing to pursue her preferred career.

Abbey has all her Mum's family around her in Rockhampton and most of her Dad's.

"There's heaps of us and we like to do lots of things together," she said.

"If I'm at work and they're doing something, I feel like I'm missing out. So I don't know how I'd cope if I had to move away."

"I want to become a teacher and I'm leaning towards high school teaching because I think you can build really good relationships with students of that age," she said.


Ozobot robots teach robotics and coding in schools
Ozobot robots teach robotics and coding in schools. Jann Houley

Asked where she gets her inspiration, Abbey named teacher Mrs Driver, who's on maternity leave and science teacher, Miss Howell.

"She's really fun loving and that's what I want to be," Abbey said.

Abbey knows lots of local students who are leaving Central Queensland for the big smoke.

"I think they're raised to it, their brothers and sisters have left for Brisbane and they follow the same path," she said.

"I think it's cheaper and easier to stay here rather than having to find a new job and somewhere to live.

"It's the same education so there's not really any difference."

Abbey said it's good to know where everything is and to keep playing with her netball and touch football teams.

Besides, it seems, the Downing family is taking over the CQUni campus one member at a time.

"My Mum works here in People and Culture," Abbey said.

"And my twin sister's doing a traineeship here in events management so we'll all be in the same place next year, I hope."

Abbey joined other aspiring Year 12 students in exploring the world of STEM teaching resources.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching is one of the fastest growing employment areas according to CQUni's Dr Reyna Zipf.

"All our graduates find employment and many of them have jobs before they finish their studies," she said.

"That's the economic side of things, but it's also a lot of fun."

The seniors grouped together to play with Ozobots, pocket-sized robots that are designed to promote creative approaches to coding.

"We make our degrees as hands-on as possible so teachers go into schools already familiar with the resources they'll be likely use there," Dr Zipf said.

"We start with the play then move onto emerging patterns then figure out how to structure learning around that."

She said that, with the government flagging STEM skills as a priority, teachers will inherit a lot of responsibility for teaching the skills to future generations.

"If you enjoy being around people and interacting all day long, then this is the job for you."