What is and Why are we teaching STEM?

STEM education refers collectively to the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines. The National STEM school education strategy 2016–2026 (Education Council, 2015) aims to improve STEM education by lifting foundational skills in STEM learning areas, developing mathematical, scientific and technological literacy and promoting 21st century skills such as problem-solving, critical analysis and creative thinking. The Australian Curriculum supports STEM learning initiatives through the Science, Technologies and Mathematics learning areas and through the General Capabilities.

STEM education in 2018 has expanded at SCOTS PGC College and is now explicitly taught in Year 6 to Year 8 as a compulsory subject and is an elective in Year 9 and 10. In 2019 we will be looking to expand STEM education further down the years and into the Junior School. You may ask yourself why are we teaching STEM?

STEM is part of everyday life and an increasing part of every workplace. STEM education enables students to develop solutions to complex problems and provides them with literacies and capabilities that will help them succeed in a world of technological change. As future innovators, educators, researchers and leaders, it is important that students develop the skills required to compete on a global scale.

Preparing our students for the future in which the work force will look extremely different to it does today is what we need to do as educators. There are many different reports and projections on the future jobs market and the skills employers are looking for. This News article suggests jobs that will not survive the rapid growth of the digital economy, automation and the future prevalence of artificial intelligence. Some of the jobs which will not exist in the next decade may surprise you!

STEM education benefits students in so many different ways by providing them with:

  •  A deeper understanding of the STEM disciplines
  • Skills to be competitive in the workplace. There is a growing gap between
    high-demand occupations and the skills required to fill them in fields like information technology
  • 21st century skills, e.g. collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving
  • STEM literacy for everyday use
  • Knowledge and confidence to learn

Future employment trends through the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has estimated that STEM -related jobs in professional, scientific and technical services will increase by 12.5% over the next five years, with employment in the computer system design and related services sector projected to increase by 24.6%. School leavers need to be encouraged to enter STEM -related fields if these jobs are to be filled by skilled employees.

Technological advances have changed the way work is done. Employers’ demands for STEM skills are increasing and they want a future workforce that is STEM literate and STEM capable. A STEM -literate and STEM -capable individual engages with issues and problems in a constructive, concerned and reflective way. This is relevant to a wide range of occupations and will be important skills for an adaptable, nimble workforce.

The National STEM School Education Strategy 2016–2026 identifies two goals for Australian schools:

  1. Ensure all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills.
  2. Ensure that students are inspired to take on more challenging STEM subjects.

The Queensland Government released the following reports in response to the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016–2026:

STEM education is essential to prepare our students for the future. Recent research indicates that quality learning for students can be enhanced through a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) environment.

This is the quality learning environment we are dedicated to providing for our students at SCOTS PGC College.

Mr Simon Edgar – Head of Junior and Middle School