Program a sister act

Michelle Slater

Latrobe Valley secondary school science and technology whizzes will have an opportunity to head-off to China and Japan under a new exchange program established by Latrobe City Council.

Eight local students from Years 9 to 12 will be chosen to take part in a STEM exchange program to Latrobe sister cities Taizou in China and Takasago in Japan.

The students will be selected via an interview panel for the 10-day trip that will include homestays, cultural programs and high-tech industry visits, including a hydrogen project in Japan.

Latrobe estimates it will cost each student about $4500 to participate in the program expected to be held in the April school holiday, and part of this will be subsidised by the state government.

Latrobe is also offering two fully-funded scholarships which families can apply for.

Traralgon Secondary College STEM Sisters co-ordinator Alison Symons said she would encourage and support her own students to apply for the program.

“I think this is great, as past secondary school exchange programs have been focusing around sport and music so it’s great to get into scientific areas,” Ms Symons said.

“Lots of kids don’t get the opportunity to get out of the Valley, this will help expand their understanding of the world and give them a belief that they can make a contribution.”

Ms Symons said a STEM exchange program would help students understand the breadth of potential career pathways.

Latrobe councillor Darrell White said a lot of work had been done in preparing the program.

“This is a rare and unique opportunity for younger people in the community to take a journey of a lifetime,” Cr White said.