STEM in Primary

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

Thursday, 26 April 2018

What has England learned (Part 2)?

What has England learned (Part 2)?

Last week I started a summary of a talk Miles Berry gave in Madrid last October. This week I will cover what he said England has learnt from teaching coding to kids over the last three years in terms of what teachers need and what kids have been learning.
Miles Berry made an interesting observation about the development of computational thinking skills and the relationship to coding skills. A research experiment was conducted whereby a group of students was split in half and one half did extra coding classes after school. At the end of the year both groups computational thinking skills were evaluated. There was NOT a significant increase in computational thinking skills by those students who did extra coding. What this showed is that whilst coding is probably the best way to build computational thinking skills if those skills are not being explicitly taught then they wont magically appear. This also reinforced the fact that it is possible to develop computational thinking skills without using computers
This points to the absolute importance of properly training teachers in not only how to program with something like Scratch but also what are the facets of the skill of computational thinking and how might they be taught. Miles suggested that "Outstanding teaching of computing" = Pedagogy ICT Skills + Computer Science Knowledge. The English experience was that although teachers ICT skills were OK their CS Knowledge was very low which is likely a situation mirrored all over the world. Thus a lot of support was required and England has started to deliver that through the Computing at School organisation, the use of master teachers and the provision of dedicated professional development. Australia has provided some similar resources such as the free Digital Technologies courses through Adelaide Uni.
There are many other resources that schools can avail themselves of which are very cost effective or free (and that interestingly England has in many cases created!). For example:
Whilst England has made great progress a report in November 2017 found that they still had a long way to go to ensure all teachers have the skills and confidence to deliver the computing curriculum. We are three years behind them so it is even more imperative that Australian schools get planning and training now.
So in summary, there were three standout messages from England's experience. Schools have to plan to deliver these new subjects, they must provide comprehensive teacher training not just in coding but also in computation thinking and lastly teachers must be given the resources they need to deliver the subject adequately. How is your school going?

Stuff in the News

Promoting STEM isn't a fad - it's a necessity - The promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is more than a fad: it is a much-needed movement to encourage a well-rounded education that is essential to Australian students.An article from the Brisbane Times 22 March 2018.
Eight ways to introduce kids to STEM at an early age - New report finds that even preschoolers are capable of understanding basic science and math concepts. An article from The Hechinger Report 5 March 2018.
Realising the promise of STEM education - The lack of students studying the so-called STEM subjects  is a perennial issue in Western countries – and Australia in particular. An article from EducationHQ Australia 25 September 2017.

Stuff to buy

These 8 Toys Can Make Your Kids Smarter - Well maybe but they are cool regardless!
*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

How Do Teachers Integrate STEM into K-12 Classrooms? - New teaching standards call for weaving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into classrooms better. What makes this integration effective? An article from Michigan Tech 27 February 2018
Science experts 'walk the talk' to improve primary STEM learning - The involvement of “community science experts” in primary school classrooms can transform students’ views about and understanding of science, a leading STEM researcher says. An article from EducationHQ Australia 6 November 2017.

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.
QLD Premier's Coding Competition - Students need to create a digital solution that meets the theme of ‘stand up to cyberbullies’ using Anti-Bully Girl - one of the Cyber Heroes. Closes 19 June 2018
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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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