Young Aussie Astronauts wanted for virtual space challenge - addressing STEM skills shortage

17 Aug 2022

Ben Newsome featured image
Ben Newsome

Churchill Fellow, Ben Newsome is contributing to this year’s Australian Virtual Astronaut Challenge, based on real scenarios facing NASA’s Artemis and the Australian space industry, free for all Australian students Years 5 – 10. Missions in robotics, home on the moon and growing food in space will be live-streamed every Friday at 9.30am AEST from August 29 – December 2.

This year’s Astronaut challenge kicks off on the back of National Science week, where a STEM[1]  skills shortage announced by the Chief Scientist[2] will be discussed at next month’s Jobs Summit in Canberra.

Mr Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Trust said “We know the STEM industry highly values adaptability, collaboration, analysis, and digital skills[3] and we are proud of Fellows like Ben Newsome, who are leading the way in building Australia’s STEM capacity.”

“The Churchill Trust is a long-time leader of education and STEM in Australia, such as by the late Michael Gore OAM, Churchill Fellow who founded Questacon, inspired after travelling overseas on his Fellowship.”

“We are proud to have sent Mr Ben Newsome on his Churchill Fellowship to Canada and the USA where he investigated best practice in science education via video conferencing. It is fantastic to see Ben continuing to lead in STEM Education to Australia in a very practical way.”

“I encourage other Australian Educators and Teachers to think about applying for a Churchill Fellowship – just like Ben did. There are no limits to what your topic could be. Start thinking now about the topic, where you’d like to go and what you would explore to build knowledge.” said Mr Davey.

The Australian Virtual Astronaut Challenge is supported by Fizzics Education, STEM Industry School Partnerships and is proudly supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS) In Communities. Last year the challenge reached 200 schools and 7000 students, and this year is hoping for even more.

Ben’s Churchill Fellowship report is available here.

[1] Science, engineering, technology and mathematics

[2] Chief Scientist to highlight STEM skills shortage at jobs summit – ABC Radio National

[3],2 Industry Reference Committee (IRC) Skills Forecasts and Industry Outlooks from 2021 – Insights and highlights | National Industry Insights Report (

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