What is STEM education?
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, but STEM education is far more than this. STEM education is an approach to teaching and learning that engages students in meaningful real world problem based learning; that draws on and develops skills in each of the fields in a fluid and integrated manner.
At Western Port Secondary College the focus of STEM education is creating rich and engaging learning experiences for students. These experiences put the students at the core, empowering them with the tools to decide on the best way to approach different challenges. While allowing time for students to inquire and construct new understandings. The most valuable skills that our students develop through these experiences are those that prepare them for all future challenges – These are 21st Century skills
21st Century skills:
We have entered the 21st Century and the skills that have become vital in our global society are:
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Collaboration and Team Work
- Personal and social skills
- Information technology
Why is STEM important?
In the next decade, it is predicted that 75% of all jobs will require STEM and 21st century skills. Thus, it is important that we are engaging our students with these STEM subjects so that they are well prepared for the future. A future that will also rely heavily on digital Technology. Not just the use of computers, but the ability to Program, Code, and create things like Apps, games, software and robotics.
Why WPSC for STEM education?
Over the past two years our school has been part of the STEM Catalyst Program with two Staff members undertaking a Graduate Certificate of STEM Education with Deakin University. This program invited only 30 schools to participate and aimed to assist Victorian schools to deliver the highest quality STEM education. Involvement in the STEM Catalyst Program has meant that the STEM courses delivered at WPSC have been developed using the most current research and the advice of experienced industry experts.
The importance of 21st Century Skills and Digital technology in our students future has been our motivation for developing learning experiences that integrate Digital Technologies into STEM learning. All students have the opportunity learn in our new STEM Centre. Where we are proud to offer our students access to cutting edge technologies, such as – High powered Laptops, 3D printers, Virtual Reality Headsets, Lego EV3 and Arduino Robotics as well as our humanoid Nao robot, SCOOT (Super Cool, O, O, Technology).
The STEM Teaching Team:
Our STEM team in 2018, led by Nicole Kemp one of our STEM Catalyst and supported by Caleb Edwards our ICT Director, has been working together to share understandings and improve the newly developed courses to ensure the highest benefits for our students through teacher confidence in delivering engaging STEM education. Benefits reported by students and teachers:
- STEM is a favourite subject
- Students engaged in learning
- Students have improved understanding of concepts
- Students feel confident in solving problems
- Students are proud of their achievements
- Students are more resilient learners
Year 7 and 8
STEM classes are 4 periods per week and integrate subjects with a focus on the Science and Digital Technologies Curriculum, ensuring many experiences draw on the engineering design process and key Mathematical skills. All activities aim to offer student opportunities to improve their Personal and Social, and Critical and Creative Thinking Capabilities.
Year 9 and 10
Science classes are 2 periods per week and students have the opportunity to extend their STEM skills through electives such as; Coding and Robotics, CSI Forensic Investigation and Marine Science.
Transition Program- Grade 5 and 6
Local feeder primary schools are offered a 5 week program in which they attend WPSC for 2 hours per week and participate in STEM learning. The two programs that are offered currently are:
- “How can robots help us understand Earthquakes?”
Students investigate earthquakes and building materials and design. Students design and program an earthquake simulator made from Lego EV3 robotics to test the stability of a model house they have also built.
- “How can robots help us to understand biological adaptations”
Students scientifically investigate biological adaptations, physical and behavioural. Students build design and build a maze for their investigation and program Lego EV3 robotics to behave like their living organism.
“Science and technology is everywhere – if you can look at the world around you with a sense of wonder and curiosity, you are already achieving great things in these fields” Nicole Kemp