This week, a range of high-tech innovations are making their way into more than 350 Australian classrooms as part of a national STEM volunteer program.
The CSIRO-led STEM Professionals in Schools program partners teachers with STEM professionals to enhance STEM teaching practices and deliver engaging STEM education in Australian schools.
Dancing robots, tales from the high seas and news from outer space are just a few of the features of the event which involves the Bureau of Meteorology, Defence Science and Technology and more than 50 Parliamentarians.
The event, which will help kick off National Science Week (August 11- 19) brings real-world science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) into the classroom in an effort to increase student engagement and participation in STEM subjects.
CSIRO Astrophysicist Dr Karen Lee-Waddell, who is participating in the event, pointed to research that shows enrolments in STEM subjects at a 20 year low.
“This is despite projections indicating that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations will require STEM skills,” Dr Lee-Waddell said.
“Today’s event is about inspiring a curiosity that will encourage more students to pursue STEM as a foundation of their future.”
Dr Lee-Waddell said she was primary school-aged when someone first pointed the constellations out to her.
“All these years later, I am still looking up at the night sky, only now I use Australia’s most powerful survey radio telescope. I want to show students how exciting STEM careers can be and, ideally, inspire some to follow that path,” she said.
Students are being encouraged to learn more about different types of STEM careers by participating in a presentation by a STEM professional and undertaking activities to identify the types of STEM professionals in their own neighbourhoods.
CSIRO Education and Outreach Director, Mary Mulcahy, used the event to call for more STEM professionals to take up the challenge of engaging the next generation.
“STEM professionals can make subjects come to life by sharing their work and their excitement about what they do,” Mulcahy said.
“We want teachers to be able to draw on the resources that STEM professionals can offer all year round, so we are calling for more STEM professionals and teachers to join our STEM Professionals in Schools program.”
The program facilitates ongoing, flexible partnerships between STEM professionals and teachers that bring the Australian science curriculum to life because of the expertise, experience and passion of the STEM professionals.
“Real world STEM belongs in our classroom, but we need real-world practitioners to help put it there,” Mulcahy said.