I’m a new staff member this year, having recently moved from Perth to Melbourne. My background is in K-12 interdisciplinary education by integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to prepare students with the essential skills to address the problems of the 21st Century. I am also a teacher of Digital Technologies and I am passionate about developing digital capability in education staff and students alike.
What are STEM skills and why do students need STEM skills?
STEM education develops capabilities such as critical and creative thinking, collaboration, problem-solving and ethical decision making. Other skills such as digital literacy, innovation, design thinking and inquiry-based processes are being added to the list of essential skills for the future. Despite the efforts of governments and other key stakeholders, Australia is seeing falling rates of participation in key areas of advanced mathematics, physics and chemistry. As a result, Australian international assessment performance in these areas is also declining. Australian employers note increasing difficulty in recruiting employees with appropriate levels of knowledge, skills and experience in STEM-fields, posing a risk to Australia’s economy.
STEM at Mordialloc College
All students have the opportunity to be exposed to and develop STEM knowledge and skills from Years 7-10 in an increasing range of STEM pathways, careers exposure, excursions and competitions. Our success during Open Night showcased a taste of what we have on offer. In other news, Year 7 SEAL students have recently participated in Bebras, a computational thinking competition and achieved certificates of distinction. Year 9 STEM students entered the Make:able Challenge to design a 3D-printable assistive technology. All students are invited to enter the GROK National Computer Science Competition and Web Comp- we run a Coding Club on Friday lunchtimes. Our eLearning and ICT Manager, Simon Belluzzo will be mentoring in CyberTaipan, a cyber defence competition on Saturday, August 20. We expect more opportunities to come this year.
The College offers an extensive range of VCE Science and Mathematics pathways as well as a dedicated STEM elective in Year 9 and 10. The STEM elective has had students build hydraulic arms, assemble mini ROV submarines, design laser-cut solar vehicles, prototype circuits using Arduino microcontrollers and program LEGO EV3 robots. All STEM projects are viewed through the lens of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and I would also like to note that the complementary study of Arts and Humanities subjects is recommended for developing the contextual knowledge, empathy and understanding of the problems of the 21st Century.
Two new dedicated science labs have also been added to the College this term and students from all years have benefited from having greater access to practical lessons and writing science reports.
Empowering Students: Introducing STEM Leaders
I have always worked in partnership with students to teach them the knowledge and skills to work on their own projects and develop the interpersonal and leadership skills needed for success in STEM careers. In Term One, students were invited to submit an expression of interest to apply to be a STEM leader and twelve students were selected to meet on Tuesday lunchtimes in G7. We then planned our exhibits for Open Night and showcased a range of projects and interactive displays. Students are encouraged to apply for a second round of STEM Leader recruitment in Semester Two.
Where to next?
Our STEM Leaders are keen on empowering our community with STEM knowledge and skills. They are working hard on their own projects, learning more about 3D printing, soldering, laser cutting and engineering principles. They are also designing exciting workshops to facilitate at our local primary schools in the future. Our teachers are also busy planning exciting activities for Science Week 2022: “Glass: More than Meets the Eye” in Term 3. We look forward to expanding science literacy, STEM knowledge and skills so all students have the opportunity to contribute to a positive future.
Director of STEM