Peel Bright Minds has been selected as a finalist for the Premier's Science Awards, and after a second successful Trailblazers school holiday camp, the organisation has shown no signs of slowing down.
The Trailblazers camp is a week-long experience designed to nurture and engage the minds of young people looking to go into STEM careers.
Peel Bright Minds project manager Skipper van Peer said once news of the camp spread, an influx of excited applications came through.
"We did our first camp in January of this year, with the first one you don't know how it's going to go," Ms van Peer said.
"We had a 36 participant limit and got 60 nominations - and we thought, 'there's a bit of demand here'"
With the first camp a total success, Peel Bright Minds decided to run them annually, until stakeholders and community members reached out, keen for a more regular schedule of every six months.
Ms van Peer said there weren't many programs similar to Peel Bright Minds in the world of STEM in WA, and that typical programs requiring an academic entry level could stifle potential of budding scientists.
"Our only requirement is that they are in the age bracket of 13-17 and live in the Peel region.
"With academic requirements there was a bit of a gap. There's all these young people who have unrealised potential and aspirations they don't get to chat about too much."
With sponsors covering the cost of the Trailblazer camp, it means participants don't pay for the experience.
July's camp was jam-packed with scientific activities and Ms van Peer joked there was "no such thing as free time" with the Trailblazers.
"We had a full calendar of activities. There was team work, leadership activities - we went in an underground tunnel system, had a panel discussion with four people working in STEM and built our own inventions.
Attendees were able to listen to and be mentored by a diverse group, including people working in cybersecurity and a speaker with a gaming company transforming the way gaming is done in the metaverse.
Another key focus was mental health and anti-bullying, with a peer-led focus and emphasis on being kind and inclusive.
"When I was at school, nothing like this camp existed, I imagine it could've changed the game for myself and my friends if we'd had that experience," Ms van Peer said.
"We were blown away by the positive response we received after the camp - we had amazing letters come through from parents and participants about how they're going to use the experience to propel themselves forward."
Ms van Peer added that 36 strangers walked away as "best friends", with the camp helping connect them to likeminded young people.
The 2022 Premier's Science Awards ceremony will be held on August 29, with Peel Bright Minds nominated in the 'Engagement Initiative of the Year' category, and Ms van Peer said the group was "honoured" to be among a list of "exceptional initiatives".
"To be named on that list - I'm really proud of Peel Bright Minds for that. Especially since we're a community-led, small, regional type of initiative. Being in that group is really humbling."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.