The future of STEM education

August 16, 2017 10:02 pm

It’s National Science Week and the theme this year is Future Earth. Last week, Teach For Australia hosted an important public forum attended by fifty guests and a panel of advocates and experts on campus at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The topic: The future of STEM education in Australia.

The relevance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) qualifications and expertise is increasingly on the public radar. Igniting and fostering a passion for skills in science and mathematics is a crucial role of schools, as they prepare students for the jobs of the future.

Here is a summary of some of the key points made and solutions offered by our panelists:

Adam Inder (TFA Alum):

Adam is currently Head of Science at Clarkson Community High School and is working on two great initiatives at his school. The first invites students in their final years of primary schools to engage in lab work and expose them to experiments. Getting students into labs early is important so that the ‘scientific rigor developed there can carry through to Years 10, 11, 12’, he says. The second initiative is the Clarkson Challenge, with a similar objective to provide primary school students with an early connection to STEM subjects.

‘[We] invite primary school students to conduct experiments and have a competitive presentation. This year the challenge is to develop the perfect fidget spinner – what’s the ideal shape, surface, weight, size for fidget spinners to spin the longest?’

Brooke Kranjancich (Robogals):

Brooke delivers workshops for high school girls to interest them in robotics through the international student run organisation, RoboGals. Her message to educators:

‘get on board with robotics because it is so important to allow girls to develop STEM skills’.

‘After the workshops, [students] say “I don’t want to become a robotics engineer”, they say “I want to solve problems!”

And that’s what we want; student need to be inspired!’

Shyam Drury (SciTech):

‘My mission is to improve maths programs at SciTech, and to develop workshops for teachers to develop scientific enquiry in students – a curiosity in Maths’. Shaym addressed the importance of developing problem based learning:

‘We need our students to solve problems through problem based learning’.

David Hosken (TFA Alum):

David is currently acting Head of Science, and before entering the classroom he worked for 18 months in Antarctica as a research scientist.

‘Once students found out that I previously was a real scientist, kids started saying what are you doing? You shouldn’t be here? It was like they didn’t deserve me. These kids are already thinking that they can’t achieve.’

David is passionate about changing this. His class entered a robotics competition, and while they might not have access to the same resources as other schools, they came 5th nationally!
David knows he made the right move into the classroom and believes in the potential and ability of his students.

A special thank you to the University of Western Australia, SciTech, RoboGals, and the Teach For Australia Alumni who contributed their perspectives to this conversation.

If you are passionate about STEM and want to share your expertise with students, you could make a difference in a classroom from January next year. Applications to the Leadership Development Program close on Sunday, 20th August. Start one today.

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