K-12 STEM news – Term 1 2019

The NSW Department of Education’s Term 1 K-12 STEM Newsletter.

In this issue:

  • Introducing our new STEM advisers
  • Tell us about your STEM Projects
  • Regional NSW Future Focused Learning (STEM) Conference
  • Principals supporting STEM projects


Prime Minister’s Prize For Excellence In Science Teaching In Secondary Schools

Cessnock in New South Wales was traditionally a mining town, but today’s high-value jobs in the Hunter Valley are in agriculture, tourism and increasingly in aerospace. Williamtown is already a maintenance base for Australia’s F/A-18 fighters. Soon  it will be a maintenance hub for the Joint Strike Fighter in the Asia-Pacific. Many of Cessnock’s students don’t believe that the new jobs are for them. Dr Scott Sleap is opening their eyes and showing them that they can participate in the new economy.

He’s done that by creating the Cessnock Academy of STEM Excellence, a partnership between Cessnock High School, its feeder primary schools, and local industry. Students struggling with numeracy are catching up with the help of robotics. A team of Indigenous girls are making and racing model F1 cars, mentored by Boeing engineers. And the number of students signing up for STEM subjects is growing. NSW Education is now rolling out similar programs in other regional centres.

Previously in 2013, while teaching Industrial Arts and undertaking a PhD in Engineering, Scott started working with Regional Development Australia – Hunter to build a curriculum model that integrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics and brings in ‘real-world’ industry perspectives. The model, called iSTEM, has been adopted in more than 260 schools across NSW.

Dr Scott Sleap receives the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. Scott is Deputy Principal, STEM, for the Cessnock Learning Community.

Taken from: https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-10/2018-prime-ministers-prize-for-excellence-in-science-teaching-in-secondary-schools-scott-sleap.pdf

gallery 2018 pmprize

The Canobolas Rural Technology High School STEM Awards 

The Public Education Foundation has selected our STEM program to receive the Secretary’s Commendation for the 2016 Secretary’s Award for an Outstanding School Initiative. Our Head Teacher of STEM, Mr Matt Scott was also selected to receive the 2016 Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for his work with STEM and teaching Design and Technology.

In addition to these, this week it was announced that our Head Teacher of STEM, Mr Matt Scott was also awarded the 2016 Premier's Copyright Agency Creativity and Innovation Scholarship​. Valued at $15,000 it will be used to travel to the United States of America to investigate best practice in STEM and how STEM project based learning is developed, resourced and taught with a focus on a regional setting. Matt will be travelling to Texas, Arkansas ​and California during March and April next year. A highlight being a visit to High Tech High in San Diego, made popular by the documentary film “Most likely to succeed”. Matt’s scholarship proposal was selected from over 300 submissions from public, independent and catholic teachers from across NSW.

Canobolas award

Honourable Adrian Piccoli MP, Minister for Education

Mr Matt Scott, HEad Teacher STEM, The Canobolas Rural Technology High School
Honourable Leslie Williams MP, Minister for Early Childhood Education, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Assistant Minister for Education​​

Photo credit:  Benjamin Townsend.

Hastings Secondary College - INNOVATIVE SCHOOLS WINNER 2016 - The Educator magazine

We are proud to be recognised by The Educator magazine as an INNOVATIVE SCHOOLS WINNER 2016. The Educator states “In our second annual Innovative Schools list, The Educator once again profiles the schools leading the charge in transforming Australia’s educational framework  The award recognises schools for  the “impressive initiatives they’ve employed to optimise their students’ educational experiences”.

Congratulations to staff for this recognition of their dedication and passion in developing excellence and innovative practice in the STEM, Sports and Creative Industries Academies. The award also recognised both the Zenith program and LEAP Academies in meeting student’s educational needs.

In 2015, Hastings Secondary College contemplated how to better tailor its educational offerings to its diverse community, investigating innovative approaches adopted both locally and abroad, and developing a range of flexible learning opportunities. For Year 7 and 8 students, it has developed sports, STEM and creative industries academies for students. It also offers Personal Interest Project classes for students across a range of interest areas, linking learning to real-world experience.There’s also the LEAP Academy for Year 8 to 10 students who benefit from more individualised learning in a smaller group setting, and then there’s the Zenith program for high-achieving and gifted and talented students in Year 7, in which staff and students work together on authentic, real-world projects.

hastings award


The Educator’s Innovative Schools 2016 national list includes East Hills Girls, Rooty Hill High School and Hasting College the Innovative Schools Winner 2016.

East Hills Girls High School 

East Hills provides students with rigorous teaching programs online. Year 7 students access their learning on the iTunes U platform. Digital feedback, assessment and communication between student and teacher are delivered via the Showbie app, and assessments allow students to address learning criteria by using iMovie, iBooks Author and App Smashing.

east hills 01 east hills 02

Rooty Hill High School

Rooty Hill High School continually works to ensure every student achieves their best. The school is one of eight across NSW and Victoria identified as ‘Powerhouse Schools’ by Social Ventures Australia, recognising their commitment to innovation. In 2014 and 2015, the school hosted visits from school leaders from all sectors across NSW wanting to adopt or adapt one or more of the approaches currently used at Rooty Hill.

This year, the school was featured in the AEU report, Getting Results: Gonski Funding in Australian Schools, for its efforts to ensure students have the literacy skills and support needed to achieve academically. When the current Year 10 group (approximately 220 students) started high school, only 10% of those students were at or above grade level. That year group was the focus of a program and, thanks to new programming and pedagogical approaches, at the end of last semester 70% of those students were at or above grade level and only 9% still require intensive intervention.

Rooty Hill High School is the lead school in a partnership with 11 other schools, the Mitchell Institute and Professor Yong Zhao from Harvard University, which was formed to develop 21st century skills in entrepreneurship and collaboration.

rooty hill