This week, more than 70 teachers are converging in Canberra for an innovative five-day professional learning program aimed at boosting their knowledge and teaching of STEM education.
The STEM X Academy, which kicked off on Sunday, was developed by Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre, Australia's national science agency CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA)
“No one leaves the STEM X Academy without being changed,” Jared Wilkins, Questacon Senior Manager Learning, said.
“The participants are challenged to be hands-on, as they learn by doing and then use their new knowledge and skills to create engaging new lessons.”
Rather than just providing teachers with a package of resources to use in the classroom, the unique program helps teachers acquire the skills and confidence to design, develop and implement their own teaching resources.
STEM X Academy partners teachers with skilled educators from Questacon and CSIRO, and expert researchers to collaborate on projects and foster relationships between teachers, schools and industry.
Mary Mulcahy, Education Director at CSIRO said partnering teachers with scientists and STEM Education experts will enable them to better understand and develop the teaching tools relevant to the world of science today.
“This experience will assist teachers to equip their students with the critical skill-sets needed to tackle the challenges of the future,” Mulcahy said.
Teachers have been selected from each state and territory, with some teachers coming from rural and remote schools where teacher professional development is difficult to access.
This year a teacher coming from Christmas Island will be the most remote teacher to ever attend. The program brings together both experienced and early career teachers creating a national professional network that endures.
“The Australian Science Teachers Association sees the provision of high-quality professional learning as an essential ingredient to the continued development of teachers,” ASTA president, Geoff Quinton, said.
“The fact that the STEM X Academy received over 300 applications for only 70 places, to a program held in the middle of the summer holidays, demonstrates not only the high regard for CSIRO, Questacon and ASTA programs but also the willingness of teachers to give up their personal time to improve their practice”.
While the program is focused on professional learning activities there is also an emphasis on showcasing Canberra as a city of science and technology.
The teachers will undertake field trips to research organisations including Mount Stromlo Observatory, ANU Engineering Faculty, Questacon and the CSIRO Discovery Centre.