The Lab Rats platform is an initiative of the Sapphire Foundation, an Australian educational charity.
Research has shown that the key to kids getting into science and technology (STEM) are science-related extracurricular activities, vacation programs, hands-on projects, parental support, and mentoring.
Lab Rats is a news feed for kids who are into any area of STEM – just as importantly it helps them connect with other kids with similar interests. This can be a game changer for country kids (especially those gifted and talented) who often have no peers in their age group with similar interests and abilities. In country towns, STEM-related local activities and access to vacation programs are extremely limited – there is a city-country divide. Kids in country schools don’t get involved in science-related areas as much as their city cousins, so Lab Rats was set up specifically to help address the isolation problem – helping a teen in Wagga or Wilcannia to connect to the exciting broader world of STEM and the thousands of other kids interested in the same stuff they are.
The Sapphire Foundation is also a major sponsor of the Young Scientist NSW awards and provides expense-paid scholarships for country teens to attend vacation activities such as the hands-on Science Experience and UOW Learning Labs workshops.
The Sapphire Foundation chair is Warwick Adams.