A new Australian science fic@on podcast series featuring young diverse people and rainbow families aims to excite primary children everywhere with the possibility of working in the STEM sector in the future.

A rainbow family is going far out into space, blas6ng off to Jupiter in the first story of a series of audio adventures that have just launched online as part of an Australian government ini6a6ve to encourage primary school children to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathema6cs (STEM).

In Far Out!, by leading Australian writer Lili Wilkinson, 14-year-old Stella, 5-year-old Cosmo, and their Mum, who is a top astronaut, take off from Earth to join their Mama on the Moon before heading for deep space to set up humanity’s first outpost on a moon of Jupiter. But they’ve not gone far when potential disaster strikes, and it’s up to the ingenuity of Stella to save her family…with some quick thinking, her science knowledge and the help of a dancing robo6c frog.

Far Out! is the first of five short stories, presented in text and podcast form, which present young LGBTQIA+ and culturally diverse characters as protagonists in an interlinked series of adventures set in a shared story world in space. Intended for primary school children between 8 and 12 years old, the Imagining The Future stories all feature their young protagonists grappling with future technological, environmental and cultural challenges and using STEM principles to resolve these problems. The drama casts are available on YouTube and all leading podcast platforms.

The five Imagining The Future stories will be available as texts to download and print off, and as a series of drama6zed podcasts, with the stories being read by exciting Australian actors, a thrilling sound design and a commissioned soundtrack. Far Out! is read by Brenna Harding, the Vice President of Wear It Purple, the annual LGBTQIA+ awareness campaign for young people, the star of Australia’s Channel Ten’s Puberty Blues, and has two mothers:

I’m so pleased to be part of the Future You initiative. Kids of all genders should be excited about and have access to the critical industries that shape our world and future. These characters and stories represent big possibilities for the little people that we love. Reading about a queer-parented family at the centre of Far Out made me feel personally connected to Stella’s journey and bursting with pride to show the young gaybies I’m lucky to have in my life. I heard from one mum that her five-year-old daughter ‘jumped up and down on the bed as if she was trying to go to space’ as she listened.

The stories are part of a broader national campaign by Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, which invites children to imagine their ‘Future You’, and to picture themselves working in the STEM industries of the future, which include engineering, renewable energies and the space industry. The STEM workforce is currently unrepresentative of Australia’s population in terms of gender, ethnicity, disability and sexuality, while rural, regional and Indigenous Australians also face barriers to entry into the sector. Equally, the persistence of enduring stereotypical ideas around STEM and its workforce presents further challenges for young people when considering future careers.

The Future You program aims to address these issues, offering a range of programs inspiring diverse role models for children and engaging them through various forms: short stories, short documentaries, graphic art, jokes, compe66ons and even pop song, which is integral to the Far Out! Short story.