Category: Events

October 27, 2017

This week we have a look at our WA winners for the STEM video game challenge. Plus, some opinion pieces, and a great math learning opportunity for primary teachers.

STEM Video Game Challenge

STEM video game competition
Image: ACER

The annual STEM Video Game Challenge results are in, and WA schools took out two of the six prizes! Kye Ziebarth, Fabian Scheffler, Kenji McAuliffe from Churchlands SHS won one of the year 9-12 awards. Jaxson Brown from Australind SHS took out an award in the year 5-8 category. Well done!

If you go to the website and download the theme sheet you can find links to some interesting games similar to this year’s theme, like this fun chemistry game. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the website for next year’s competition details. And in the meantime, their teacher resource page has a game development lesson plan guide and plenty of handy links.

Dan Finkel coming to Perth

Maths education specialist, Dan Finkel, will be giving a presentation and workshop on December 4th at 4:30pm. The event will be at Scitech and is for primary teachers. Dan Finkel is the founder of Math4Love, where you can find maths games, inspiration and lesson plans. He has also been a TEDx speaker, and you can hear his talk about the five principles of extraordinary maths teaching on Youtube. His methodology has close ties to our philosophy here at the STEM Learning Project.

In my opinion…

Some interesting opinion pieces floating around the internet this week. Rebecca Morse shares the need for STEM skills. Not just to create new jobs and a better economy, but to help people filter out the vast swathes of misinformation that flood social media.

But, Elizabeth Garbee warns, we should beware of thinking about students’ STEM development as a “pipeline” with “leaks” where students escape the system. Instead, we should think about a STEM ecosystem, where STEM skills and knowledge can be used in a whole interconnected web of different contexts.

 

October 5, 2017

What a line up we have for you this week! We report back on the STEM Education conference and cover two cool STEM education resources originating in the USA. But first, what exactly is STEM, again?

Models of STEM

It can be a confusing term, and a new piece of research from Michigan University nails down why – no one really agrees on what it means. You can also read the university’s article on the research. Essentially, the researchers found 8 broad models of STEM education, as drawn by teachers. They ranged from very simple (eg STEM as four separate disciplines) to more nuanced (STEM is a complex interaction of disciplines). What was most interesting was that after undergoing professional development in the area, their thinking about what STEM is changed to more nuanced, complex definitions. Here at the STEM Learning Project, we think of STEM as embedded in real-world problem solving, as a set of skills and processes that will enable students to succeed in the future. Our STEM philosophy veers towards the complex interaction end of the spectrum.

 

Models of STEM
Research from Michigan University asked teachers to draw their models of STEM. These are examples of the “real-world” model.

 

So what about you? How do you think about STEM? Here are the three questions used in the study:

How would you depict your model of STEM Integration (in a picture)?

Describe your model in words.

What experiences (from professional learning or otherwise) inform your model?

We’d love to see how you think about STEM! If you want to share your answers to these questions with us or share anything else about how you view STEM, please contact us. If you want to learn more about how we view STEM and how our resources approach STEM teaching, come along to one of our PL sessions.

STEM Education Conference at Curtin

Professor Mark Hackling STEM Consortium
Professor Mark Hackling spoke at the STEM Education Conference last week

Last week the Mathematical Association of WA (MAWA) held a STEM Education conference at Curtin University, and of course we had to be there! 300 people attended the event and heard speakers cover diverse topics, from girls in STEM, to uses for robotics, to innovative maths teaching solutions. The STEM Learning Project Consortium Chair, Professor Mark Hackling, gave a short keynote address and talked about the STEM Learning Project resource module The Long Walk. In this module students learn about the long distances refugees must walk to reach safety. They go through science, maths and design processes to make shoes out of materials that people might commonly find on the road while walking. We also had Johanna Stalley give an introductory session. This generated a lot of interest and we had some great conversations with teachers and other educators. All in all a great two days!

Fab Lab

Fab Labs – my first thought when I heard about this initiative was “fabulous labs”.  And it’s true, they are pretty fabulous. But that’s not what the fab stands for. Instead, it’s short for “fabrication”. Fab Labs are like maker spaces, but turbo-charged. They are equipped with industrial-grade fabrication tools, and open-source software written by MIT researchers. The goal of the Fab Lab movement, which started at MIT, is to make these top-of-the-line facilities available to anyone. You can check out some of their projects, their charter and more on their web page.

Fab Labs may have started at MIT, but they haven’t stayed there. In the United States funding from Chevron is bringing Fab Labs to rural areas. Australia has Fab Labs too –  in WA you can find them here and here.  As you might have guessed, it is now a global movement with labs in 30 countries around the world.

A Simulating Website

Simulations are a wonderful way to help students understand abstract concepts. And now with the digital era in full flight, good simulations are easily accessible for anyone with a connected device. The University of Colorado’s PhET website is one such resource that provides science and maths simulations for use in classrooms. It caters for all levels from primary school to university. This simple primary school simulation helps explain static electricity with the help of John Travolta. You’re welcome.

 

September 22, 2017

 

Your weekly (well, OK, this time it’s fortnightly) roundup today contains information about the upcoming STEM Education Conference. We also cover some other local news, the OECD education report, and some fun news about maths.

 

Local Happenings

STEM Education Conference

Some interesting news close to home came out in recent weeks. Firstly, the STEM Learning Project will be just one of many educational providers presenting at MAWA’s STEM Education Conference next week. Education HQ interviewed Rachael Whitney-Smith to learn more. If the line-up appeals to you, it’s not too late to book!

Next, WA’s own East Waikiki Primary School is one of the lucky 100 Australian schools selected for a STEM program running in 2018, reports The West. The initiative focusses on STEM in the early years through the use of play-based apps.

The Telegraph reports on why and how we need to get our kids re-engaged into STEM subjects. And lastly, two more pieces from The Australian highlight the need for STEM skills as we move forward into a changing future. First, there’s the problem of ageing oil rigs. Secondly, there’s this opinion piece about how to ensure Australia remains globabally competitive: problem solving, critical thinking and communication are the keys.

STEM Learning Project workshops are hitting the spot

professional learning

The STEM Learning Project is getting popular! We have now locked in all our professional learning workshops for the rest of this year, and we’re starting to book for next year. Fear not, there’s still room to book into this year’s sessions. Click here to find out about them. If you’re interested in organising a session for next year for your network, contact us.

 

OECD Education Findings

The OECD published its education findings for 2017 recently. As you might expect, this has caused a stir among online commentators. DW writes on the continuing gender disparities in many subjects, including STEM, while Toronto Metro News comments on the need to funnel students into Engineering and IT, where employment prospects are greatest. Meanwhile, WA Today online published an article on the decline in STEM graduates from Australian universities, despite the growing demand for graduates with these skills.

 

 

A Model Maths Student?

Teacher Magazine published several interesting pieces about mathematics over the past couple of weeks. There’s this fantastic read all about mathematical modelling problems in a real-world context. (And here are some example problems for you to use with your class – or try yourself!). There’s also a report about research on what influences participation in maths. There were six main factors which impacted student’s decisions about whether to take maths subjects. Read more here.

 

That’s all for this week. Have a great long weekend!

-The SLP Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 22, 2017

May is shaping up to be an exciting month for us here at the STEM Learning Project. On Tuesday the 9th we officially launched the Project with a showcase event held at Scitech in City West. From the 24th we will be rolling out Professional Learning across the state. These will equip teachers to use the materials we are developing.

 

STEM Learning Project Launch Night

The STEM Learning Project Showcase evening highlighted some wonderful results from the Learning Project’s initial trial phase. Key participants from the consortium and our associated organisations came together to share in what we have learned so far.

 

Speakers and consortium members at the launch night.
Speakers and consortium members at the launch night.

 

We were very privileged to welcome five teachers from our trial schools. These teachers shared their experience using the modules. Guests were able to view examples of students’ work in three of the modules. The Long Walk has year threes choosing materials to make a shoe in a long-term, in depth investigation that teaches empathy at the same time as building STEM skills. In Bushfire Risk Warnings, year six students write an algorithm to predict bushfires and in Amp Up The Volume, year nines research acoustics to create a passive amplifier for their phones.

Trial teachers and VIPs at the launch night.
The Honourable Sue Ellery MLC, Member for Education with some of our fabulous trial teachers.

STEM Learning Project Consortium Chair Mark Hackling, the Honourable Sue Ellery MLC, and Chief Scientist Peter Klinken helped remind us of the “why” with their words on the importance of STEM for the future of WA.

 

Based on PWC findings, 75% of the fastest growing careers now require STEM skills, and yet in another startling statistic from the OECD, there was an 11% fall in participation in intermediate maths over the last 20 years.

 

Professional Learning OpportunitiesSTEM Professional Learning

The future of WA depends on today’s students, and to make a difference they need to be learning STEM. That’s why the Learning Project exists. To help teachers integrate STEM across the curriculum, we are running some professional learning sessions starting in Geraldton on the 24th May. To find out more about the workshops and to book into one near you, click here.