22 March 2019
Late last year we announced through the Newsletter the exciting news that Avondale School had been selected as one of the Partner Schools for the 2019 STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy program, run by Sydney University. This program involves Avondale School partnering with the STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy to further plan and develop Avondale School’s STEM program and involves our Secondary STEM teachers in research-backed professional development and support from STEM Academy mentors.
Established in 2014, the STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy offers knowledge, skills, resources and support to enable teachers to make real change in their classroom teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. The program is the first of its kind in Australia and is helping build the nation’s STEM capability by inspiring teachers through enrichment-focused professional development.
At Avondale School, our primary aim in partnering with the STEM Academy is to further inspire and enthuse our secondary teachers of STEM subjects, enriching and reinvigorating their classroom practice and through this, to improve student engagement so that more continue to study these areas in Years 11-12 and beyond. So, what is STEM Education? “STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics in contexts that make connections with school, community, work and the global enterprise enabling development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.” (Tsupros, Kohler & Hallinen, 2009)
And why is STEM Education important? Over the next five years, employment is predicted to increase in professional, scientific and technical services by 14% and in health care by almost 20%. Some STEM-related jobs, such as ICT professionals and engineers, have grown at about 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years. Changing 1% of Australia’s workforce into STEM-related roles would add $57.4 billion to GDP. (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2015)
So, what has happened at Avondale School already this term? The Avondale School Secondary STEM Hub has: • begun teaching an exciting new elective for the first time - Year 10 iSTEM; • implemented a highly engaging, new Year 10 Mathematics STEM pathway of learning for some of our Year 10 students; • begun delivering the following brand new NESA courses: Year 7 Mandatory Technology, Year 11 Advanced Mathematics, Year 11 Mathematics Extension 1, Year 12 Mathematics Standard 1, Year 12 Mathematics Standard 2, Year 12 Biology, Year 12 Physics and Year 12 Chemistry; • had a team of six Avondale School Secondary STEM teachers actively involved in a 3-day professional development program with Sydney University’s STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy; • with the expert assistance of our STEM Academy mentor, had six of our Secondary teachers collaboratively planning for the implementation of some very exciting Term 2 and 3 Year 7 integrated STEM project-based learning tasks; • launched the Avondale School Secondary School FabLab maker space – this is an opportunity for students to come and create, build and tinker with fun STEM related activities and projects at lunchtimes in Room 16 on Tuesdays and Thursdays; • launched our FabLab student coding initiative – students interested in coding can come along to Room 16 at lunchtimes on Thursdays to learn to code (no prior experience is necessary); • launched our exciting Year 8 & 9 Mathematics and our new Year 9 & 10 Science SWOP Students With Outstanding Potential (SWOP) gifted and talented programs; • trained key staff in the use of our five new 3D printers; • celebrated some amazing women who work in STEM careers on International Women’s Day.
Secondary STEM Hub Leader