Improving STEAM education has become a national priority amid plans to grow Australia’s economy, and coincides with significant demand for STEAM specialists in Australian primary and secondary schools.
This week, two organisations have answered this call by partnering in a major initiative that will provide schools with free teaching resources including STEAM lesson plans, inquiry units and professional development.
The new partnership between OfficeMax Australia, non-profit organisation Cool Australia and STEAM expert Dr Bronwen Wade-Leeuwen, will play an important role in ensuring teachers and schools can provide solid career pathways for students.
Managing Director OfficeMax Australia Kevin Obern, said STEAM education can prepare students for all the challenges that the rapidly changing world present beyond graduation.
"STEAM learning pushes students to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a way they’re unfamiliar with," Obern told The Educator.
"They learn to play with the idea of trial and error, to truly 'think outside of the box', take risks and get away from the commonly used approach of applying a known method or formula to solve a set of problems in a step-by-step way."
Obern added that with STEAM, students must solve in more creative, non-linear ways which will help to prepare them for all the challenges that the rapidly changing world presents beyond graduation.
"Our goal is to help schools integrate STEAM learning by providing them with the resources they need, particularly for those who wouldn’t otherwise have adequate funding," Obern said.
The initiative includes a partnership with not-for-profit, Cool Australia, which will provide teachers with free teaching resources including STEAM lesson plans, inquiry units and professional development.
"We’ve also launched a grants program with over $25,000 available to teachers across the country. We encourage principals to share this program with their team to ensure teachers are armed with all the necessary tools to implement STEAM effectively," he said.
Dr Wade-Leeuwen, who presents ‘creativity’ workshops at several international and national conferences around the world, highlighted the importance of businesses backing STEAM education.
"Businesses like OfficeMax play an integral role in supporting STEAM learning," Dr Wade-Leeuwen told The Educator.
She added that companies need to actively participate in building the skilled workforce of the future or they will struggle to find employees in coming years.
"They need to collaborate more with teachers to show young people where STEAM subjects can take them and relate the classroom curriculum to real world, work-related examples," Dr Wade-Leeuwen said.