STEM Education: the story so far

STEM Education is the learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an interdisciplinary or integrated approach. Students gain and apply knowledge, deepen their understanding and develop creative and critical thinking skills within an authentic context. It may include inquiry and project-based learning. By developing curiosity and knowledge of STEM disciplines students make connections and see the relevance for future career pathways. STEM education is for all students and should be incorporated throughout all stages of learning from preschool through to Year 12.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians in 2008, identified literacy and numeracy and knowledge of key disciplines as core skills and the development of critical and creative thinking, problem solving skills and digital technology skills as essential to all occupations. The opportunity to develop these areas is at the core of STEM education. The Chief Scientist's report, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia's Future raised awareness across the nation for the need to develop a national STEM strategy.

A comprehensive plan for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in Australia was released by the Education Council, the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026. The strategy outlines two goals, Goal 1: Ensure all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills and Goal 2: Ensure that students are inspired to take on more challenging STEM subjects. This strategy identifies five key areas for national action:

  1. Increasing students STEM ability, engagement, participation and aspiration
  2. Increasing teacher capacity and STEM teaching quality
  3. Supporting STEM education opportunities within school systems
  4. Facilitating effective partnerships with tertiary education providers, business and industry
  5. Building a strong evidence base

STEM Issues – Sharon Ford

STEM directions

The NSW Department of Education are taking the following directions to ensure the delivery of quality STEM education for all students:

  • raising expectations and enhancing the quality of student learning in STEM
  • fostering quality teaching and leadership in STEM
  • illustrating innovative ways of delivering STEM education

Actively engaging students in authentic and challenging STEM learning experiences, creating learning environments that foster innovation and creativity is fundamental to the success of STEM education in schools. The NSW Department of Education has initiated a number of STEM projects during 2015 and 2016:

An Engineering Perspective – Matthew Dopierala