Last week we held our Improving STEM Education and Skills Conference in Melbourne, where we drew together some key representatives from across Universities, schools, Departments of Education and STEM employers. The discussions were lively, the speed networking noise raucous, and the break times abuzz with the exchange of ideas with new friends.
We received a hugely positive response to this event:
“To hear from industry leaders and those at the forefront of tomorrow’s world was a truly enlightening experience.”
– Jason Remse, Mathematics teacher, Department of Education WA
“A very thought invoking two days on a topic that is relevant in today’s STEM environment.”
– Mark Symes, Course Coordinator, UTAS
While our media partners also joined in the praise.
But what did we take away? Where do our priorities now lie? How do we plan to bridge the STEM skills gap? How do we build a STEM skilled pipeline of problem solvers and innovators to drive Australia’s future?
1. We need to deliver an integrated STEM education unit
A common theme across interactive sessions and discussions throughout the two days was the need to integrate STEM education and increase collaborative working from one discipline to the next. No more working in silos, the plan for the future is to set up systems for STEM program integration – much like the work being done by Scott Sleap at Maitland Grossman High School in the Hunter Valley. Increasing collaborative working faculty to faculty will be critical to achieving a more integrated STEM education. By connecting STEM discipline subjects we will find the synergies to enable innovations.
2. We need to increase collaboration and partnership
…Between one STEM discipline faculty and another, between primary schools and secondary schools, secondary schools and tertiary education and all three with STEM industry employers.
3. We need to forge mutually beneficial partnerships between STEM educators and STEM employers
This will help improve student engagement and real world relevance to inspire the next generation of problem solvers and innovators. It will also ensure they gain the skills and competencies needed to go into future STEM careers.
4. Bridging the gap between teaching, learning and application – we need to get the balance right between how students learn STEM and how they practice STEM
We need to change the strategies to improve STEM practices to increase hands-on inquiry based learning through problem solving and creative activities. Student-centred learning is the way forward. We need to strike the balance between engaging students, but then translating it into learning that aligns with curriculum requirements.
5. We need to encourage girls into STEM study and career pathways
What can schools do to attract students into STEM careers? We need girls to understand the potential of where a STEM degree can take them. We need to challenge the gender stereotypes and create a STEM environment where girls feel more comfortable. A fantastic example of this is the work being carried out by Robogals.
We will look into all of the above and more at our next Improving STEM Education and Skills Conference in Sydney on 27th & 28th May.