STEM Our on-going journey towards future focused learning.

Why must we continue to make a change?

We must find ways to engage students deeply in their learning both for improved outcomes and for success and happiness beyond school. What do we know about young people today and the future they will inhabit? How can we best support them to follow any path they choose to explore? - Case for change: Futures Learning Unit.
STEM Education is the learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary or integrated approach.
A renewed national focus on STEM in school education is critical to ensuring that all young Australians are equipped with the necessary stem skills and knowledge that they will need to succeed.


When Australian Education Ministers signed up to the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians in 2008, they identified literacy, numeracy and knowledge of key disciplines as the cornerstone of schooling for young Australians.

They also recognised that schooling should support the development of skills in cross-disciplinary, critical and creative thinking, problem solving and digital technologies, which are essential in all 21st century occupations.

These objectives lie at the core of the national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school education strategy.

The Chief Scientist’s report Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future, has provided fresh momentum for a national focus on STEM education.

The Chief Scientist’s report highlighted the trends that all education systems are grappling with – the performance of Australian students against international benchmarks has stalled or declined.

Reversing the trends in STEM performance will take time and effort across the community. Building young people’s engagement in STEM is bigger than schools and what happens in the classroom.

Education systems alone cannot overcome the pervading cultural norm that it is acceptable to be ‘bad at maths’ or ‘not a numbers person’.

There are many factors that affect student engagement in STEM. Underlying this are the views of the broader community – and parents in particular – about the relevance of STEM, and the approach to the teaching and learning of STEM from the early years and continuing throughout schooling.

The purpose of the strategy is to build on a range of reforms and activities already underway.


Fixed vs Growth

Dr Dweck (A Stanford University Professor) discovered that children who believed that their intelligence, skill or talent could be developed were far more motivated to learn.

Confident children embrace challenges, persist when facing difficulties and learn from feedback. These are all hallmarks of the ‘Growth Mindset’, which leads to higher levels of achievement and personal empowerment.

Dr Dweck also identifies the increase of the ‘fixed mindset’ as children progress past Year 3 of their schooling. This is a mindset generated by the belief that intelligence and talents are fixed, resulting in a tendency to want to look intelligent, avoid challenges (and making mistakes) and ignore negative feedback.

How does the growth mindset fit in with STEM?

STEM - The Journey so far

All governments are investing in improving STEM education. There is significant activity underway across the country in schools and education systems, by industry and universities, to lift student engagement and attainment in STEM and to support teachers to improve student outcomes.

STEM Directions

The NSW Department of Education are taking the following directions to ensure the delivery of quality STEM education for all students:

• Raising expectations and enhancing the quality of student learning in STEM

• Fostering quality teaching and leadership in STEM

• Illustrating innovative ways of delivering STEM education

Actively engaging students in authentic and challenging STEM learning experiences, creating learning environments that foster innovation and creativity is fundamental to the success of STEM education in schools.

The NSW Department of Education has initiated a number of STEM projects during 2015 and 2016:

  • Stage 3 Integrated STEM Project

Breaking down the disciplines-

  • Science is about understanding how things work.
  • Technology includes tools, techniques and materials that enable greater efficiency or effectiveness in product and process development and application. Non-digital and digital technologies are included.
  • Engineering is about making things that work.
  • Maths includes determining, deconstructing, estimating, calculating, modelling, abstracting, predicting and correcting.

But why should we buy-in?

It aims to improve student learning through pedological change.

  • 'inccidental learning' through doing, making, creating, collaborating
  • develop learning experiences through the use of project based learning startegies
  • Authentic, purposeful, meaningful
  • solving 'real' world problems for them and others, creating ideas
  • making mistakes, tinkering, testing - repeat

Learning across the curriculum - Teachers place a greater focus on general capabilities of our syllabuses.

.... all STEM disciplines present opportunities for stressing 21st Century skills. Students can develop 21st Century skills such as adaptability, complex communication, social skills, non-routine problem solving, self-management, self development and systems thinking (NRC. 2010).

More work for teachers?

  • Already doing it to some degree.
  • Integrated approach: Mathematics, Science and Technology, Art - effective way to deliver a crowded curriculum.
  • Engagement = improved student outcomes

BOSTES aims to enhance engagement in STEM by developing practical, hands-on teaching and learning programs and resources that allow students to integrate their knowledge from the pillar subjects.

Activity - Get involved!

STEM, where can we start and what might the future look like?

  • Inform staff - What is STEM? How can it improve student learning?
  • Give it a go! Try BOSTES sample units - work with stage leaders. Collect feedback.
  • Upskill staff - Teacher professional learning
  • Working in Stage groups to see where STEM fits in, potentially substitute teaching specific disciplines with interdisciplinary STEM units - experiences that are rich and engaging.
  • After school workshops - as new learning tools become avilable to enhance learning
  • Creating a whole-school future -focused learning journey - K-6 STEM Scope & Sequence + Program Logic with short, medium and long term goals.
  • Teachers start to evaluate their current teaching practices - A pedagogical shift?
  • Collect data and evidence - start and on-going

Program Logic

Where are we now?

Our learning tools: Chromebooks, Netbooks, XO's, IWB

Where are we heading?

Flexible Learning Spaces
Future-focused technology is integrated in meaningful ways to empower students to collaborate, create, and share their learning.
To understand is to invent (Piaget, 1976)

Makerspace - A space where students can either 'create' solutions to the design brief posed by teachers or come up with their own ideas and inventions, make and test them using, high tech and low tech tools / materials.

Things that may assist our journey

  • Australian Schools Plus - Smart Giving Grant -
  • Expression of interest - STEM Action school
  • SchoolBiz - Professional Learning
  • Year 6 gift / Fundraisers- 3D printer
  • Woolworths earn & learn - technology tools e.g. Lego Robotics kit
Success in STEM from K-12 involves students "playing the game" of STEM, making their own meaning and developing practical skills via constructivist learning techniques; and working through relevant syllabus content to develop knowledge and understanding via the "skills and drills" associated with direct instruction.
Created By
Cj Jordan

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