STEM in Primary

STEM in Primary
A blog for those interested in primary school STEM education

Monday 8 October 2018

Refining Understanding of what STEM is

Refining our understanding of what STEM is

With the last term of 2018 upon us I thought it would be timely to reflect upon the latest thoughts on what STEM is. There have been some great posts recently which summarise it nicely. Dr Jane Hunter in her blog High Possibility Classrooms recently wrote a piece titled Success in STEM in primary schools. In it she quotes from a book by Anne Jolly titled STEM by Design. She starts by by explaining what STEM should mean to the school leadership "Leaders must understand that STEM is intended to ratchet up rigor in science and mathematics through engineering applications … it’s not intended as a general ‘catch all program’ for subjects" and then points out that "STEM is: Not a subject or a content area and it is not comprised of four separate subjects taught in isolation from one another "
Dr Hunter summarises that "Teaching STEM is a way of teaching that helps prepare students for learning and working in the world – as a teacher it’s about engaging them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as they exist in everyday life – interwoven and integrated – combining knowledge from four areas: S T E M to find and solve real-world, current problems."
Then on the Education Week Teacher website I found an article titled Six Characteristics of a Great STEM LessonThe six characteristics listed are:
  1. STEM lessons focus on real-world issues and problems
  2. STEM lessons are guided by the engineering design process
  3. STEM lessons immerse students in hands-on inquiry and open-ended exploration
  4. STEM lessons involve students in productive teamwork
  5. STEM lessons apply rigorous math and science content your students are learning
  6. STEM lessons allow for multiple right answers and reframe failure as a necessary part of learning
It doesn't mean that every lesson is a project or that every lesson combines all four of the STEM areas. However, these ideas should guide the thinking of lesson design and where possible and appropriate STEM based pedagogy should be used.
So how is your school doing? Are you seeing your kids engaged in this sort of learning?

Stuff in the News

Why It's Crucial We're Teaching Kids About STEM From An Early Age - We owe it our young people to provide as many opportunities as possible to develop their STEM skills. An article from the Huffington Post UK 30 July 2018
Here's what needs to be done to boost STEM in Australian schools - The answer is in having a comprehensive education plan that includes the right resources, makes sure teachers are properly paid and ensures our public schools have the right facilities and equipment. An article from Business Insider7 August 2018
Learning The Lessons Of STEM Subjects For Girls - Teaching methods and the curriculum have been developed over time in a way more suited to boys because it was boys who were expected to take [STEM] subjects, so the lack of girls in science continues to be a self-perpetuating truth.. An article from the Huffington Post UK 6 August 2018

Stuff to buy

*At this point in time I earn no money from any product I list and I am not affiliated with any other company.

Stuff in education

Maths: six ways to help your child love it - Don't they love it already? An article from The Conversation 17 August 2018
Salman Khan explains what Mastery Learning is all about - A video from the CBS This Morning TV show. 
Make Your Daughter Practice Math. She’ll Thank You Later. - The way we teach math hurts all students, but it may be hurting girls the most.An article from the NY Times 7 August 2018

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Wonder Workshop Robotics Competition - Launches October 11
CSIRO CREST Program - CREativity in Science and Technology. Engage your students with open-ended science investigations and technology projects through the CREST program.
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Fizzics Education - Mobile workshops & shows by dedicated science educators NSW, VIC & QLD & ACT
Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club
Code Club Australia - A global network of coding clubs for kids aged 9 to 11.

Stuff to do in Brisbane

RoboGals Brisbane Robotics Days - Robogals has various workshops programmed throughout the year.
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Street Science - Street Science provides captivating and curriculum aligned school Incursions and community entertainment, to excite and engage Australia's youth!
STEM in a Box has ongoing coding, robotics and 3D printing activities
Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
STEAMPUNX - Not to be confused with the organisation above! Offers in-school and out of school workshop programs
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane
It's Rocket Science School Incursions - Educational and fully interactive project based rocket science incursions for primary and secondary schools in a safe and empowering learning environment.