St Therese’s Essendon has a strong culture of learning embedded in our daily practice however we wanted to challenge our students to think critically and to be creative with solving problems. A focus was to ensure our students are provided opportunities and learning experiences that develop their skills and knowledge to take their place as active citizens in the future. It is for this reason we have started our journey into the world of STEM.
Building our vision for what STEM should look like at St Therese’s
As part of this journey our partnership with Scienceworks has been integral. Strategically alongside our support from Scienceworks, we have been slowly building our school team to support and build a STEM vision at St Therese’s and how we could build teacher capacity to ensure success for our students.
Our 2021 Journey
In 2021 our partnership with Scienceworks continued this year with Emilie supporting our students through an onsite design sprint. Students were taken through the design sprint process of introducing, empathising, ideating, building a prototype and communicating their solution. It was interesting to note that many of the students were challenged by the prospect of ‘thinking big’ and using their creativity. We were then invited to attend Scienceworks where our students were once again taken through this process. What we noticed with the students this time was that they were becoming increasingly creative.
As teachers and students were starting to understand the process we then looked for ways to incorporate STEM into student inquiries. The Year 4 were investigating restaurants. As part of this inquiry we looked at the concept of social inclusion. Students were challenged to think critically about the challenges that may exist for certain members of our community. The eventual goal was for the student to follow once again the design sprint process to investigate possible solutions to these barriers. Unfortunately due to COVID lockdowns and then restrictions the design sprint day did not happen however the STEM team who were involved in the preparation of this day learnt a lot about the process and how we can integrate STEM. This process is something that we are keen to continue to explore and continue to seek out opportunities for STEM through our student inquiries.
Finally our Year 5 student participated in the online STEM day facilitated through Scienceworks. Once again it was a privilege to observe the students solving real life problems in a variety of ways. It was obvious on this day that the skills that the students had learned through the specialist program of Digital Technology were applied in the process of this sprint.
Our future goals will be to strategically plan for opportunities to use STEM as a vehicle to support learning for our students. St Therese’s will be broadening our Digital Technologies program to use the learned skills to transfer to STEM settings. Our STEM team will continue to build teacher capacity and pedagogical knowledge within ourselves and others. We look forward to connecting with other schools who are on a similar journey to further explore the opportunities.
Janine Turville Deputy Principal/Director of Learning
St. Therese's School