STEM in Primary

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

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Coding in Schools the Momentum Continues!

Stuff this week - Coding in Schools the Momentum Continues!

It has been a big few weeks in the news for coding in schools. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been urging Trump to mandate coding in schools and the NZ government has announced that it will add coding into its curriculum.
Adding coding to the curriculum is not about encouraging all kids to become software engineers.
Learning to code has numerous other benefits. Firstly, it enables students to gain a solid understanding of the technology that surrounds them in their lives. More importantly as technology permeates more and more industries and jobs there will be a need to be able to use computers to solve problems in a variety of ways. In order to do this people will need to have the skill of computational thinking. It is this skill that it is the ultimate goal of the curriculum.
Click on this link to see a video by one of the architects of the digital technologies subject talking about the opportunity that children now have. There are three videos on this page watch Video 2: Why Digital Technologies. The end goal of the technologies subjects which are studied until year 8 is shown in the picture at the bottom.
So when your kids are learning coding look to see that they are actually developing the computational thinking skill. This means they should be breaking down problems into smaller manageable chunks. They should be looking for patterns they can exploit and they should be solving the problem in a step by step manner. When your kids start writing their own programs from nothing then you know they are getting it! If they are just working through exercises in an app or on a website then they are still learning.
The governments of the world (like Australia) see it as crucial for their economies that kids develop computational thinking skills. The challenge for schools is to provide training for their teachers that not just teaches them how to write a program in Scratch but gives them the understanding of the underlying concepts of computational thinking. It is necessary that they understand that this is the end goal of the curriculum.

Stuff in the news

UQ NEWS Dow chairman and CEO to speak at Brisbane event - Mr Andrew Liveris will lead a broad-ranging conversation including the importance of STEM education to build a knowledge-based economy.
Mars rover replicas created by high school students in move to foster STEM interest - It is not every day that robots take over a high school library but it is becoming more commonplace in one part of New South Wales. An article from ABC NEWS 30 June 2017.
The critical importance of STEAM education - A term that is becoming more and more popular to the ears of teachers and students alike and, right now in the educational sectors, it seems to be all anyone is talking about. An article from PC World 27 June 2017.
Let’s Talk Science reaches 5 million with STEM - A Canadian organisation is looking to develop an action plan and a national vision for STEM education. 29 June 2017.

Stuff to buy

Makey Makey Evil Genius Book - Got a MakeyMakey or thinking of buying one but don't know what to do with it? This book might be your answer!
Cubetto Robot - Like the idea of programming a robot but want less screen time for the kids? The Montessori approved Cubetto robot might be your answer! 
*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

Nikki Kaye reveals digital shakeup for school curriculum - New Zealand has announced changes to its curriculum to require coding to be taught in schools from next year. An article from 28 June 2017.
An Australian university just found a way to teach a year's worth of maths in 3 weeks - Samsung and the University of Canberra's STEM Education Research Centre have just announced research findings they say proves a technology-enabled approach to teaching significantly improves competency in STEM among primary and secondary school students. An article from Business Insider 22 June 2017. (A related article Technology Is The Key To Great STEM Teaching )

Stuff to do Australia Wide

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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