STEM – it's about more than just plants

During the last couple of weekly assemblies, we have presented items on the STEM challenges the Preps have been set. In Daily Messages there is mention of a STEM Challenge for Science Week. But what exactly is STEM?

STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates the learning areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This blended learning environment is important because we find it in every part of our lives. Science is everywhere in the world around us and is used to impact people and every living thing on Earth. New jobs are emerging every day as a result of technological advances, and continual advances in technology are changing the way students learn, connect and interact every day.

According to the Western Australian Department of Education, the key skills students develop through STEM include:

  • Problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Critical analysis
  • Teamwork
  • Independent Thinking
  • Initiative
  • Communication
  • Digital Literacy

STEM empowers students to succeed and adapt to our changing world. The skills mentioned above are directly related to the Carey Positive Learner Attributes, which are a focus in our learning program at Carey and prepare our students for the 21st century challenges of both globalisation and a knowledge-based economy. STEM provides another opportunity to enhance these vital skills for our students, and introducing it early in the Junior School program allows them to develop their personal attributes over their entire schooling journey. This, in turn, creates independent, motivated and lifelong learners.

There are infinite opportunities to develop STEM skills and to learn about STEM concepts when children engage in free or structured play, or when they are set challenges in Literacy or Numeracy. These activities help children learn how to use these skills in the real world. This was clearly demonstrated by the Preps when they used engineering principles to build their houses and bridges to recreate the fairytales they were studying. They experimented with ways to increase or decrease friction and experimented with force. They employed design and technologies, as well as creative thinking, curiosity and imagination.

An often-quoted statement about the impact of STEM education expresses clearly our philosophy for including STEM in so many aspects of the learning journey: ‘Education is no longer about memorizing facts. Instead it is about learning how to think critically and evaluate information. How to apply knowledge, research and skills to problem solve…’

In the most basic terms, STEM reflects real life.

Margaret Adams
Deputy Head of Junior School Donvale

Feature image: Prep student Jacob with the bridge he built as part of his STEM education