STEM in Primary

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

Saturday, 22 July 2017

But what about the teachers?

Stuff this week - But what about the teachers?

In the area of STEM there is much being done for the kids of today and many volunteer organisations and paid enterprises are stepping in to provide instruction and mentoring however what about those that actually teach kids for a living?
Teacher training is a global issue and it is being addressed in different ways. There are organisations springing up to help. For example, in the USA 100Kin10 is a not for profit whose goal is to train 100000 STEM teachers by 2021. 
In the UK there is and Barefoot Computing which provide free and paid for training and resources for teachers.
Australia is catching up. The University of Adelaide has three MOOCs which are free and cover all aspects of the Digital Technologies curriculum. The Australian Government's Digital Technologies Hub provides support for the Digital Technologies subject with lesson plans, case studies, advice for school leaders, activities for students and for families. Then there are the universities which provide short courses for a small fee and businesses which provide short courses for a more substantial fee.There are also free Open University courses. Finally there are many seminars and conferences all around Australiadiscussing STEM and related topics.
The issue of course is when do teachers have the time? Some will find a couple of hours per week to do the short courses which is fantastic but more meaningful courses will require school assistance. To that end I believe schools should be doing SMART planning to provide teachers the opportunity to upskill themselves. Yes this requires funding to pay for relief teachers during their absence but this needs to be seen as the cost for providing a world class education and should be prioritised. Singapore is at the far end of the spectrum to be sure but as a comparison they provide their teachers with 100 hours of professional development every year. Queensland teachers are only required to do 20 hours. My hope is the upcoming Gonski funding changes allow more teacher training to be delivered.

Stuff in the news

3 ways to get kids interested in coding - A blog post from the Littlebits website 13 June 2017.
Why learn to code? - An article on 16 June 2017 
NSW school girls spend the holidays as 'astronauts in training' - 90 students from 14 NSW girls' schools will spend the school holidays as astronauts in training at the Houston Association for Space and Science Education Junior Space School in Texas. An article from the Sydney Morning Herald 26 June 2017.
PBS Show Will Teach Preschoolers How To Think Like Computers - Some believe educators should focus on building soft skills like empathy and interpersonal communication so humans and robots can complement one another. However, other education thought leaders are ready to beat computers at their own game by teaching people to think like intelligent machines. An article from Edsurge 3 July 2017

Stuff to buy

LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit - With the stuff in this kit and a pile of your own ordinary LEGO bricks, you can build ten awesome machines that can be combined to make dozens of different chain reactions.
*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

Sphero’s in the Classroom - A blog post from Teaching in the Primary Years 20 August 2016
STEM learning – international best practice - Queensland science teacher Sarah Chapman is passionate about engaging youngsters in STEM education and has travelled the world gathering evidence of international best practice. An article from Teacher Magazine 8 June 2017.
Australia looks to China for maths, science lessons - Frustrated by stagnating maths and STEM standards, Australian education and policy experts are travelling to China for lessons on how to boost maths and science in local classrooms. An article from The Australian 11 July 2017.

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Opportunities and Obstacles for STEM Education - Free public lecture at the University of Melbourne 15 August 2017
Program Computers to Talk - Coding with Speech Synthesis for Kids - Read this blog post from Tech Age Kids to see how you can get your kids into experimenting with speech synthesis. Its easier that it sounds!
Australian STEM Video Game Challenge - For grades 5+.The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge will ask participants to develop games in response to a central theme or idea. Registration open 1 May and submissions close 25 August.
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 are OPEN. See the YouTube video here!
CSIRO CREST Program - CREativity in Science and Technology. Engage your students with open-ended science investigations and technology projects through the CREST program.
National Science Week - Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology and thousands of individuals – from students, to scientists to chefs and musicians – get involved, taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation. 12 - 20 August 2017
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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
Code Club Australia - A network of coding clubs for kids aged 9 to 11.

Stuff to do in Brisbane

SLQ Digital Futures - Each year the State Library of Queensland presents a theme of interest to the Queensland community. Throughout 2017, they invite you to join in exploring Digital Futures.
Robotronica 2017 - Robotronica is a groundbreaking one-day event showcasing the latest developments in robotics and interactive design. QUT's The Cube 20 August 2017 
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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.

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