Category: Workshops

December 1, 2017

STEM Learning Project news

The latest edition of Words is now available for download from the WA Association of Primary Principals. It features an article by our Project Manager, Michael Peter, which outlines some of our key learnings in how to teach STEM skills to today’s students.

In other news, registrations for our workshops on the 29th and 30th of January close shortly. Get in quick!

Opinions – STEM skills for a changing future

Recent opinion pieces have centered around the changing workspaces in schools and workplaces. It seems like we are moving towards a more collaborative, flexible and digitised world. That’s why teaching STEM skills is so important. 21st century skills will give students a toolbox full of resources to deal with a world in flux.

STEM skills for a changing future
STEM skills for a changing future

First, in this insightful interview Stamford professor Malcolm Kay talks about STEM and what it means for students’ futures. From The Conversation comes this piece about how to increase STEM participation in Australia. And finally from Education HQ, an article about the rise of tech leadership in schools.

Constructive criticism?

In this section we bring you some articles about the construction industry in the STEM space. This piece gives some advice about how to build a great STEM lab. And here is an interesting example of an integrated maths and engineering course focused on construction.

We’re especially excited about this homegrown tech innovator. Fastbrick Robotics has invented a gigantic robot which builds houses from the ground up, somewhat like a 3D printer. This world-first innovation has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry. Hello affordable housing for all! Watch it in action on their website or Youtube, or read more here.

robotic bricklayer construction
Image: Fastbrick Robotics

Last of all, Australia is soon to begin a construction project that is out of this world. Australia’s first commercial space base is set to begin launching rockets within a year. That’s right, one year. I can’t get over how exciting this is.

To infinity and beyond!

Australian space agency
Image: NASA

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 17, 2017

Regional STEM PL

Our regional STEM PL workshops are still going strong. At the start of August the STEM LP team headed up to Karratha to run workshops for the Pilbara network. Primary and secondary teachers and leaders attended and said the material was extremely useful. We’re excited about the strong drive for STEM education in the Pilbara.

In the near future, we have even more regional workshops planned. We’ll be heading up to Christmas Island on 31st August. And in October we’ll be delivering PL in Esperance, so get in contact if you’re interested in attending. As always, you can check on upcoming sessions and find booking links at our PL page.

 

Regional STEM PL
We’re travelling all over WA with our regional workshops. Image courtesy aussiejeff via Flickr.
CC Attribution share alike

The STEM Innovation Expo

On Monday the Department of Education held its inaugural STEM Innovation Expo at the Crown Perth. Mark Hackling, the STEM Learning Project consortium chair and Michael Peter, the project manager, attended as seminar presenters. They gave a short workshop on the learning materials to over 100 attendees. You can watch a livestream of the entire expo on the DoE’s Youtube channel. The STEM LP content starts at 2:12:24.

New Ideas in STEM Education

There’s been lots of interesting STEM education news over the past few weeks. Firstly, out of the University of Melbourne is this interesting article about all the wonderful STEM initiatives happening around Australia and how we can support them.

There were a few interesting opinion pieces in the news as well. Gemma Tognini from the West Australian laments the lack of compulsory maths subjects for gaining a WA education certificate. However, she misses the fact that maths competency is inherent in subjects like home economics. Tom McLeish from the Guardian thinks its never too soon to get kids experimenting and playing in science class, while at the Scientific American Josephine Lister says we need to break down negative stereotypes and link science to student’s lives.

The Educator writes about using the Maths Pathway program to change the way maths education in run in schools. And how about using CAD software to teach STEM? Engineering.com has some thoughts on that.

STEM innovation
There are so many options for STEM education.

Keep Adding Letters

First we had STEM, then we added arts to get STEAM. Now there’s a new letter – R for reading. STREAM education is a new, deeply cross-curricular way of teaching that more and more educators are embracing. Get some tips and ideas about using this approach from EdTech here. 

Well my friends, that’s all for this week. Happy STREAMing!

February 14, 2017
Professor Mark Hackling at a workshop.

STEM – it’s a term you might have been hearing a lot of lately. But what is it, why is it so great and most importantly, how do we teach it to our students?

Teachers and principals who are looking for STEM resources will be pleased to know that the STEM Learning Project has been set up to deliver just that. We are developing a suite of resources across all year levels for WA schools. To help introduce teachers to these resources, we will be conducting professional learning workshops across WA.

What kind of resources are they?

The resources adopt a problem-based learning approach. Students seek solutions to open-ended, real-world problems, such as predicting the risk of bushfires or developing an appealing playground for young children. Each module is closely linked to the WA curriculum and includes assessment rubrics. Teachers who have trialed the resources so far have told us the resources are flexible, innovative and that the students are meaningfully engaged by the work. Finally, these resources are classroom ready and integrative, so you can cover several learning outcomes and subjects during the unit of work.

 

STEM Workshops Around WA

We ran a series of well-received workshops to targeted areas in 2016. Next, the STEM Learning Project will be inviting teachers to another series of workshops across W.A. in 2017. These workshops will focus on an introduction to STEM teaching and learning, and the newly developed resources. You can get the details here. For enquiries about the STEM Learning Project, click here.

Participant notes from the first STEM workshop.
Participant notes from our first workshop.