STEM in Primary

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

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

What has England learned (Part 1)?

What has England learned (Part 1)?

Queensland has mandated coding and robotics in primary school since 2017. NSW has mandated coding from kindergarten starting in 2019. However globally this is not new, England introduced compulsory coding into its curriculum in 2014.
At the end of last year Miles Berry, a university lecturer and strong advocate for computing at schools, gave a talk at EUCodeWeek in Madrid where he covered what England had learnt in the previous three years. As the saying goes those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it so lets have a look at what he said.  
He first made the point that coding is not in the curriculum as the end goal. The end goal is to develop the skills of computational thinking and creativity. In England this starts before the age of five where children are encouraged to form their own ideas, make predictions, test ideas and change strategy when needed. From this foundation more specific computational concepts are taught and by the age of seven children should know what an algorithm is and by age eleven they should be able to write and read code. This, by and large, mirrors the Australian Curriculum requirements
In terms of how to teach coding they have learnt that it is important to make it a two step process. Firstly, work out how to solve the problem and devise an algorithm and then secondly, write the code.They have found an incremental approach using resources such as Beebots initially before moving onto Scratch and then Python has worked best.
Some general observations that Miles made were:
  • Teaching coding doesn't always mean using a computer
  • It is easier to read code than to write it
  • It is easier to edit code than to start from a blank screen
  • Pair programming (where two students work together on one computer) is a powerful method
  • Teachers have to find interesting contexts
  • Debugging improves the Growth Mindset
  • Coding IS for everyone!
There is a lot that Australian teachers can learn from their English counterparts. Next week I will conclude with what links they have found between coding and computational thinking and what teachers need to deliver the subject properly.

Stuff in the News

STEM skills still in High Demand - A new report on employment skills indicates that STEM skills are still in high demand. So what can educators do to make these skills more accessible for all? An article from EducationHQ Australia 2 March 2018
Five things parents can do every day to help develop STEM skills from a young age - Educators and researchers agree early literacy experiences are important for children’s cognitive and language development. But in addition to early literacy skills, we should also be promoting early STEM skills. An article from The Conversation 12 March 2018
7 Practical Ways Parents Can Inspire Girls To Get Into STEM - Girls are turning away from careers in STEM due to perceptions that the jobs lack creativity and the subjects are too difficult to learn. An article from the Huffington Post 15 March 2018

Stuff to buy

Sony Koov -  Construct colorful 3D robots and learn the coding skills to bring them to life
*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

Girls at single-sex schools more likely to choose STEM subjects - Girls in single-sex schools are nearly twice as likely to study VCE chemistry and specialist maths than those in co-ed schools, new research has found. An article from the Canberra Times 1 March 2018
STEM is an exciting new area to study - From building robots to learning how to code, independent schools across Sydney are finding creative ways to prepare young people for the jobs of the future.

Stuff to do Australia Wide

2018 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge - The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge is completely free to enter. This year’s competition will run from Tuesday 20 Feb – Friday 3 August 2018
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.

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