DECD have just released their STEM strategy for the next three years. Below are some of the key points from the document.
“We know that 75% of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge.” Hon Susan Close MP, Minister for Education and Child Development
“It is imperative that South Australian STEM education provides every student with the chance to develop the capabilities they will need, as our future innovators and problem-solvers.” Hon Susan Close MP Minister for Education and Child Development
The economic case for STEM is clear. Between 2006 and 2011 in Australia, the number of people in positions requiring STEM qualifications grew 1.5 times faster than all other occupation groups.
There is a growing need for the broad skills that are fostered through STEM education: “critical thinking and problem-solving, analytic capabilities, curiosity and imagination have all been identified as critical ‘survival skills’ in the workplace of the future.”
The South Australian Government has invested $250m to provide new infrastructure for 139 schools to improve STEM learning in modern, flexible spaces.
All South Australians, regardless of where they live, should have access to the opportunities of the future.
By 2020 there will be 500 primary teachers with a STEM specialisation.
Preschool leaders and teachers will have access to new STEM teaching resources from 2017.
South Australian teachers will use a new approach to learning design, assessment and moderation for STEM education from 2017.
Professional learning resources will be available from 2017.
A ‘STEM play’ initiative will be established within all DECD preschools from 2017 to 2020.
All schools with secondary enrolments will have a STEM career strategy, linked to local primary schools and supported by links with business and industry as appropriate.
All schools and preschools will have a STEM learning focus.
5% increase in the number of students who participate in SACE Stage 1 and Stage 2 STEM subjects.
All schools with year 1 to 10 enrolments use the new Standard of Educational Achievement (SEA) to measure STEM subject achievement and inform practice.
This is only a selection of the points made in the DECD strategy paper. To read the full document click here.
Where is PBAS heading for the remainder of this year and into 2017?
Joelene and Allan are attending a STEM conference this term run by the South Australian Science Teachers Association.
I am attending the Area Schools Conference which will have a STEM focus including school visits on Monday week 6 this term.
Kelly, Sarah and Tresia are attending “Little Bang Discovery Club” training this term with the aim of running STEM based activities for preschool aged children.
Major redevelopment of existing spaces to support the teaching of STEM will continue in 2017. Current proposals have been put on hold to allow for further research and a deeper understanding of how we can best provide for our students.
The Digital Technologies Australian Curriculum achievement standards and content descriptors are being matched with supporting technologies that will help teachers address the achievement standard. This document will be shared with relevant staff before the end of term 4.
In 2017 teachers will be expected to develop STEM based projects in their classrooms.
While we are looking to improve the delivery of STEM at PBAS there are plenty of activities that we currently do that support STEM. The following are some examples of what I have seen happening:
Year 6 students participated in the primary science challenge in Port Pirie coming equal first.
Year 7/8 English students using an iPad, iMovie and green screen technology to create a 60 Minutes interview.
Year 5/6 students creating solar powered vehicles in design technologies.
Year 1/2 students programming Bee Bots to solve simple problems.
Year 3/4 students undertaking a maths and the Olympics project.
The Reception Year 1 class have propagated their own vegetable garden.
It is important that we begin to consider how we will further support learning and engagement in the sciences, math and technology based subjects. What will our contribution be?
It is important to watch and learn from what others are doing. The Victorian Government have a VicStem page which provides some great resources including:
A digital curriculum resources page for teachers. The main part of this page has icons linking to topics which include “Why digital technologies?”, “Where to start”, “Designing the learning”, “Teaching and learning resources”, “Assessment” and “Find out more”. The right hand side of the page has all the links found within these larger icons. The teaching and learning resources provide content descriptors, lesson ideas, online resources, videos, ideasto try and units of work. Covers Foundation to Year 10.
3. Victoria has six Science and maths specialist centres. This page provides information about each of the six centres – Bio Lab (sport and human performance), Earth Ed (earth sciences), Ecolinc (environmental teaching and learning), GTAC (Gene Technology Access Centre – life sciences), Quantum Victoria (physical sciences and maths) and VSSEC (space science engineering centre). Making connections outside of our school environment is an important part of the STEM approach. What industries and organisations do we have in South Australia that can support the teaching of STEM?
In PBAS STEM 1 – What is STEM and what does it look like? it is clear that while STEM projects can be enhanced by expensive high-level technologies STEM does not have to rely on these technologies to be successful (see the Year 2 STEM project video). The focus of STEM should always be on making connections between STEM subjects, challenging students, testing ideas and creating innovative solutions to real and complex problems. The idea of purchasing a range of expensive technologies and then assuming these make a good STEM program is a mistake. It is important to consider and understand how each piece of technology can support STEM at PBAS. How can it foster curiosity, problem-solving, creativity, trial and error and innovation?
PBAS already has a range of technologies including iPads, MacBooks, CAD, computer suites, robotics, Bee Bots, tech machinery and tools and standard science and maths technologies that have always supported our programs. I have put together a selection of videos that show a range of technologies for us to:
consider developing further, for example, Lego robotics and Bee Bots and
consider purchasing as new technologies to PBAS.
Raspberry Pi School Projects
Pakuranga College using UPBox 3D Printers
Roland Stika Printer
PicoBoards and Scratch
Creating a gaming console with Picoboard and Scratch
The previous STEM post (12th September) discussed what STEM was and how it could look at a classroom level. You can read this post here. In this STEM post I want to discuss the IT spaces in our school.
A range of discussions have occurred during this year specifically about redefining the spaces we have dedicated to IT. This has mostly occurred at leadership and within the Teaching and Learning SIP group. What is needed now is the input of all staff who have a stake in using these spaces and ideas about how they could service the learning needs of our students more effectivley.
The ideas in this post are just that, ideas. Nothing is final and everything is up for discussion. Including the obvious one (as you will see below) – do we need a canteen?
Below is a plan that shows the current Year 12 room, Computer Suite 1 and the canteen. The plan includes the following redevelopments:
Computer Suite 1
The wall between computer suite 1 and the canteen is removed creating better use of the hallway (dead space). This would allow for two robotics tables to be included in the work space (one 3×1.6m and one 3x1m)
Storage can be created below the robotics tables to keep robotics equipment. This equipment is currently kept in tubs on the floor of the tech room.
Two LED screens (strategically placed) that show what is on the main teaching screen. This supports students who are the furthest away from the main screen allowing them to clearly see what is being discussed or shown to the class.
Whiteboard walls. To the right of the main screen create a whiteboard wall that is a 3.5m long for use by the teacher or groups of students as a planning space to share ideas.
Year 12 Room
The year 12 room becomes computer suite 2. This helps to centralise our computing facilities while providing an extra space (storeroom attached) for the storage of IT equipment including printer cartridges, materials for 3D printers and decal machines, paper, maker space materials and computing components used for building and designing and Bee Bots. This storage room while not in a brilliant position alleviates the need to have storage taking up space in the IT teaching areas.
The wall between the two suites would have a 3-5m window installed allowing students and teachers to be visible (mostly) regardless of which room they were in. It would also provide a feeling of a more open space. This window may also have the ability to be opened (sliding panels).
A new entrance door for this room would mean that classes would not need to enter the new suite 2 via suite 1.
Remove all internal walls and relocate the switchboard (currently on one of the centre walls in the canteen). This would create an 8x5m classroom space.
A classroom that has a flexible furniture arrangement. The tables shown in the image have 4 height adjustments so potentially all year levels could access the room, the tables can also be manipulated to change the seating configurations depending on group sizes and task requirements (each table has 2 castors for easy movement). One or two flip tables may also be considered as a way of creating more floor space when not needed but available to be used if a bigger class needed the space.
This classroom could be a Maker Space. Like the current primary wet area is used for students to build and create this maker space could be a place where students can come together to use, and learn to use materials as well as develop creative projects. The important idea is that it is a place that can be used for a range of activities with changing and flexible educational goals and creative purposes. Typically the space will; 1. Foster play, exploration and group learning, 2. Encourage collaborative learning where educators and students pool their skills and knowledge and share in the tasks of teaching and learning, 3. Develop a culture of creating as opposed to consuming. Two immediate examples of learning that come to mind are the school’s Bee Bots and PicoBoards (used with Scratch programming software). Many great kits and resources are available now to help schools develop effective maker spaces.
Whiteboard walls. Depending on what was most suitable creating whiteboard walls would allow for student planning, explaining and discussion of ideas.
Green screen technologies on the MacBooks and iPads provide students with opportunities to produce great videos. Paint a wall in this room green (floor to ceiling). Create a moveable green floor panel that could be stored elsewhere but brought in when students required it.
This classroom could potentially be home to some new technologies the school is considering. These technologies include 3D printers , a decal printer and laser cutter. There is an alcove in the bottom right of the canteen space which could house the decal printer and 3D printers. Depending on our technologies and the space available it is possible that the 3D printers could be placed in suite 1.
The x’s on the plan indicate a computer.
It would be great to have staff voice their opinion in the comments section to help generate discussion which will help this process move forward. A chance to discuss this in a staff meeting will also occur.
This is the first in a series of posts that will help us to have discussions about STEM and how we can develop this area at Port Broughton Area School. By the end of 2016 I hope every teacher involved in STEM based subjects R-10 can not only answer the following question but feels confident and supported to implement their answer.
In 2017 what STEM project will I undertake with my students?
So what is STEM?
The STEM approach to teaching and learning gives students the opportunity to work on challenging problems and projects.
It makes students aware of the connections between science, technology, engineering and maths and the importance of each to successfully solving problems in the real world.
It’s about a range of staff collaborating to show students the connections, for example a Year 5/6 STEM project could involve Paul contributing perspectives from maths and science while Tim provides expertise to support students with design and digital technologies.
Students experiment, use old and new technologies, test ideas and make and create innovative solutions to real and complex problems.
Real depth is given to STEM projects when partnerships are formed with local industries within the community.
STEM will look different across every class at every school.
Students identify needs and opportunities, visualise and generate ideas, plan and develop solutions and evaluate products and processes.
Information about what STEM is was provided by Jim Goodall, Maitland Area School.
What can STEM look like in the classroom?
Year 2 STEM Project
2015 ACARA STEM Connections Merici College, Canberra
Kings School Student Project
Bee Bot Art Project – This is an adult project but it does not take much imagination to see how this could be applied to a Year 1/2, 3/4 or 5/6 class. Design a piece of art created by Bee Bots!
ACARA has recently released work sample portfolios for the Arts, Technologies and HPE. The release of these work samples coincides with the development of a new resource page on the Australian Curriculum website. This page allows teachers to access these samples in a much more interactive and useful way than the original downloadable PDFs released with the English, science, maths and history curriculums. This new resource page is called Australian Curriculum: Work Samples.
The new work samples page is limited to Visual Arts (F-6), Design Technologies (F-6), Digital Technologies (F-6) and Health and Physical Education (F-6). Any portfolios for subjects published prior to 2016 (English, maths, science and history) can be found as PDF documents below the year level achievement standards in each learning area.
The new page provides a more interactive way of engaging with work samples including video examples of student work. Improvements of this new system include:
The PDF annotations are more easily linked to the student learning in the PDF. By scrolling over the number on the PDF the corresponding annotation is highlighted.
Video samples have been introduced providing greater flexibility to display student learning.
Easy comparison of Above, At and Below standard of the same task. In the example below the Satisfactory sample is displayed while thumbnails of Below and Above are also accessible.
A search function allows you to quickly filter subject, year levels, portfolio level and keywords.
Easy movement between all tasks in a specific portfolio.
In the coming months work samples for HPE 7-10 will be added while the Arts – Dance, Drama, Media and Music F-6 will also be available soon. I have not been able to find any information relating to the Arts and Technologies 7-10 and when these portfolios will be available.
ACARA is currently developing work sample portfolios for Technologies, The Arts, Health and Physical Education, Geography (7-10), Economics & Business (7-10) and Humanities and Social Sciences (F-6/7). Technologies will be the first to be published later in 2016 while it is expected that some samples in other subject areas will also be published also in 2016.
These portfolios will be published in ACARA’s new content management system which will allow much greater flexibility when viewing work samples. The new system will offer teachers a search function, the ability to view BELOW, AT and ABOVE samples of the same task alongside each other or view similar samples from a specific learning area together. It will significantly increase the ease and ways in which teachers can interact with the work samples.
Below: View of the new Australian Curriculum work samples
ACARA has also updated and improved its scope and sequence documents. The Australian Curriculum website provides “Achievement on a page” and “Content for a year level” documents which provide useful overviews of subject content and achievement standards. You can access these documents via links on the following pages.
Click here to view the Senior Australian Curriculum overview. This page lists 15 senior subjects across English, maths, science and humanities and social sciences. Each subject has a link which provides a Unit Description, Learning Outcomes and Content Descriptors.
The above information (except for the Senior Australian Curriculum section) was taken from the ACARA Primary Matters newsletter 8 March 2016.
If you would like to subscribe to further ACARA updates click here.
The iPad app Gallipoli – the first day is a great resource with some excellent interactive features including video, audio, interviews and information about the units that served in the campaign and the weapons they used. Through the use of dioramas, animation and narration, you can see the first day of the Gallipoli landing and all its major events (about 15-20mins). You can also go deeper into each event and understand what it was like for the soldiers involved.
There is also an online version which can be accessed here. The online version has the same information, but the quality of the animation is not quite as good as the iPad app – still a great resource for students.
One of the engaging aspects of the iPad app is that it allows students to create an account by entering their name which tracks their progress through the app. As students complete different aspects of the app they achieve various medals and military ranks.
I came across this resource (produced by the ABC) while looking for information on the Australian Curriculum Lessons website to use with my Year 9/10 history class this coming term. I would highly recommend this website if you are looking for lesson ideas linked to the Australian Curriculum.
For teachers at PBAS this app has been put onto the class set of iPads.
Want to teach digital technologies to your class but not sure were to start? Maybe this website can help you. Computer Technologies Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. It requires no access to computers!
The website is suitable for lower primary aged students through to senior students and provides a downloadable book, activities and a wide range of videos to support the teacher in the classroom.
Below is a video example of an activity that supports students learning about Finite-State Automata (a Finite-State Automata follows a set of instructions to see if the computer will recognise the word or string of symbols). Sounds complicated but once you view the video it becomes clear. Click here to see the PDF of the activity that goes with this video (for ages 9 and up).
Thanks to Graham Cox who alerted me to this great resource.
Note: Some year levels/subjects have limited units of work available.
What made me come back to this resource was a personal need to find resources and information about the Year 9 History unit I am teaching this semester. I have already found a brilliant Gallipoli resource I will definitely be using it with my 9/10 class when we do our depth study on WW1. Below are screen shots of my Year 9 History search on the website.
All units on the site are directly linked to the Australian Curriculum and provide downloadable lesson plans and links to resources. Even if a lesson plan doesn’t suit your specific needs you may find new resources that you can use with your existing programs.