In March, NSW Education Minister, Rob Stokes, warned that the Arts component of STEAM risks being neglected as schools rush to equip students with technology-centric skills.
“From government ministers to journalists – from industry CEO’s to senior public servants – people of influence are piling in to denounce the value of philosophy, the arts, and the social sciences – insisting that only by bowing before the altar of STEM will today’s students be adequately equipped to thrive in the 21st century, Stokes said.
To help drive STEAM education in classrooms across Australia, some organisations, such as OfficeMax, have offered financial incentives for schools.
In April, OfficeMax launched its STEAM initiative for teachers with a $25,000 grants program and partnership with education not-for-profit, Cool Australia to help educators integrate these areas of learning into primary and secondary schools.
Through the unique collaboration with Cool Australia, OfficeMax also launched free online teaching resources, including STEAM lesson plans, inquiry units and a professional development program.
Last week, teacher Lisa Pieropan from Thornbury High School, located in Victoria, was announced as the winner of OfficeMax’s inaugural STEAM grants program.
Pieropan will get $5,000 and a STEAM starter kit equipped with essential products to improve STEAM education in her classes. All other seven state-based winners will receive $2,500 as well as a kit for their school.
The students at Thornbury High School come from many diverse cultural backgrounds which include a high number of Indigenous students, children of refugees as well as international students.
“As a Victorian public school, funding is always a concern,” Pieropan said.
“Particularly having such a socio-economic diversity, school fees cannot always be afforded by many of our parents and as such we need to be frugal with how we use funds to support the learning of all students.”
Pieropan said the Grant will go into “supporting and encouraging their love of the ever-changing world they are facing”.
Office Max Australia’s general manager of marketing, Anu Jose, said the response to the program has been extremely positive:
“We’ve had an overwhelming response from both teachers and schools who were looking for additional content and tools to support them in their quest to deliver exceptional STEAM education,” Jose said.
“Lisa showcased a true passion for STEAM learning and is set to empower and equip our next generation with the skillsets they need to carve out promising career pathways in this ever-changing world.”