STEM reach to regional schools

STEM reach to regional schools

Students from far north NSW, many of which have been affected by the recent floods, are set to benefit from a professional learning program focused on developing teachers’ capacity to collaboratively design integrated STEM curriculum for school students.

The new Regional 2023 cohort have recently commenced their yearlong adventure with the STEM Academy, led by the University of Sydney, which aims to support teachers to inspire students into careers within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, helping grow the economy and create the jobs of the future.

Read more: New report sets out pathways for students' future STEM careers

Forty-eight teachers from nine schools in areas including Ballina, Byron Bay, Lismore, Richmond and Mullumbimby participated in an intensive two-day program. The aim being to to support teachers which will in turn improve student learning outcomes, increase understanding of STEM career opportunities, and build partnerships within the local communities.

“The Academy program will enable teachers to create STEM projects for their students around solving authentic local challenges associated with big global challenges,” Professor Manjula Sharma, Director of the STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy at the University of Sydney, said.

“This will inspire creative thinking in young people and significantly enhance knowledge and skills preparing them for the STEM  workforce, encourage entrepreneurship and open up further study opportunities for students.”

The teachers, many who come from low socio-economic schools and have diverse cohorts, work with experienced mentors who provide support and assistance to plan and implement their own STEM strategies in the classroom.

“The structure of the course empowers teachers to best meet the needs of their own students in the structure of their own school.” – Simon Clough, Cape Byron Steiner School

“No doubt the STEM enrichment academy will be responsible for catalysing a range of STEM projects that will engage our future innovators.” – Matt Cartwright, Southern Cross School of Distance Education

“Design thinking is an effective tool to move us from deliverers of information to facilitators of learning.” – Zane van den Berg, Rivers Academy of STEM Excellence

“This academy has supported us to apply best practices for STEM education to our program so we can achieve our aim with shared expertise, mentorship, collaboration and networking opportunities. It has been an excellent and valuable professional development program with direct impact on student STEM learning.” – Katie McCloskey, Trinity Catholic College, Lismore

Data from schools who have previously undertaken the program indicate an increased in students studying STEM pathways, and in particular an increase in female students considering STEM careers.

Schools involved

  • Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School
  • Richmond Christian College, Ballina
  • Shearwater Mullumbimby Steiner School
  • Southern Cross School of Distance Ed.
  • St Mary's Catholic College, Casino
  • Wollumbin High School

Those adversely affected by recent floods

  • The Rivers Secondary, Richmond River
  • Trinity Catholic College, Lismore
  • Mullumbimby High School

This story originally appeared as a media release from the University of Sydney.