In the last decade, educators and researchers alike have begun to worry about a trend that has seen Australian students lose interest in STEM subjects. Fewer female students, especially, stopped studying these subjects and fewer students who did in lower grades, continued them in college. Statistical reports also highlighted the fact that fewer graduates continued to become teachers of these subjects and in the work force fewer females were taking on STEM related jobs.
So what is STEM?
STEM refers to the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics related subjects. For various reasons, Australia, one of the leading STEM countries before 2006, saw a drop in interest among its students and people. There has been much concern about this because Australia may start to lose in the competition for academics, knowledge and employment to other countries around the world if these trends continue.
There is hope
There are a few special people however, that might be able to shine some hope on the bleak issue of decreasing interests in STEM fields. Dr Marlene Kanga is one such person. She started off her engineering career in Australia in 1980 and had to struggle to convince people that women could be engineers too. Today she is breaking stereotypes and showing the world that engineering is not about gender it is simply based on your abilities. She went on to take on the role of President of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO)in 2017 after her role as the President of Engineers Australia and being listed among the Top 100 Engineers in Australia in and the Top 100 Westpac Women of Influence.
There are a few younger Australians who are also a beacon of light for STEM. 19-year-old Sydney boy, Oliver Nicholls recently won US$75,000 and an award only given to the best invention at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pennsylvania, one of the biggest engineering fairs in the world. He was among the 5 Australian finalists who all scored awards out of 1800 students from 81 countries.
STEMmates for the future
STEMmates aims to inspire young Australian learners with the same drive and passion for STEM related subjects as both Kanga and Nicholls have shown. Our courses are geared towards raising interest in children – and keeping them engaged. Hands-on learning activities and collaborative techniques also teach them essential soft skills like critical thinking, communication and teamwork.
Find out how your child could be the next big thing in STEM today. Visit our Facebook and website pages.