STEM in Primary

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

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Its all in the planning!

Stuff this week - Its all in the planning!

In September 2015 Australia's Chief Scientist released the STEM: Australia's Future Report which made the point that STEM education in our schools is "Too important to leave to chance". This is the crux of my view of STEM education in primary. There needs to be a better focus yet there is no gold standard model to follow therefore only through proper planning with defined and measurable outcomes will any change be successful.
There are many examples of failures. Sydney Grammar last year banned all laptops in school. Los Angeles school district had a failed $1.3billion iPad program in 2015. Last year another USA school district had to pull the plug on a personalised learning trial that cost over $500000.
Yet there are many examples of success and I believe these come down to an obvious degree of planning and a healthy scepticism that no one tech thing will lead to educational gold. Schools and parents have to end fixation on tech tools and focus on the outcome. What the outcome is will be the educational goals and instructional models that the school has identified as best fit for their students. There must be defined measurable goals which are sometimes referred to as SMART goals which means they are specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based. There are examples where principals and teachers talk about the importance of this, this link reports on a successful 1:1 laptop program
I believe schools should form a working party to bring together the key stakeholders to define these goals. The group members would be the forward leaning tech-savvy teachers, the curriculum experts, the gifted and talented team, those responsible for any 1:1 device programs, any related extra-curricular activities and people who have skills that could help with managing a transformational project. Breaking down the silos between different programs in a school to develop a cohesive plan to support all learners should be the main objective.
There are so many options which are now available to schools due to the explosion of technology in society. It is necessary therefore to do quite a bit of research into what is available and discuss what can be achieved. Having a discussion centred around "We are doing X which is great but if we could do Y it would be so much better". Then look into how the school could do Y. At all times it is important to not get carried away with the hype around any one product and stay focused on the goals. There has been research done into how organisations get caught up in the excitement of new technology and so it is useful to understand and continually reflect on the Gartner Hype Cycle. There are emerging organisations which can help such as Edusrge's Concierge Service.
Next week I will showcase some exemplar schools and how they have done the detailed planning that should bring success.
What do you think? Is your school developing SMART goals and doing detailed planning or are they on the hype cycle and rushing headlong and potentially wasting valuable resources?

Stuff in the news

Workshop Shows Teachers how to integrate STEM in Class - An article from The Commercial Appeal 30 January 2017
The Technological Arms Race - In his 2016 Annual Report, Hamish Douglass of the funds Management firm Magellan Financial outlines their thesis on where technology is taking the world. Fascinating and sometimes scary stuff, pages 2-6.

Stuff to buy

Arduino Lilypad - An advanced project but how cool to have your own custom light show on your clothes!
Some more great innovations on Kickstarter:
*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

Five Challenges for Science in Australian Primary Schools - An article from The Conversation in June 2015 but still relevant today
Calls Mount for Primary School Teacher STEM Focus - An article from Education Matters Magazine

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Young ICT Explorers -  A non-profit competition, which has been created by SAP to encourage school students to create their best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related projects. Registrations open in February. See the YouTube video here!
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Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club

Stuff to do in Brisbane

The Luminarium Festival - Fun and illuminating workshops and events for children aged 5-13. Wizarding World Weekend is on 4-5 March 2017
World Science Festival Brisbane - 22 - 26 March 2017. Dr Karl for Kids is a FREE event in the South Bank Piazza on 25 March.
The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
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Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane

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