2019 saw STEM continuing to be an important part of life both here in Australia and around the world. We recognised STEM careers in the
STEM in Schools event with CSIRO in Western Australia, we celebrated STEM Day Out, in Adelaide and the national government decided to continue with ELSA for a second year. We also commemorated inspiring South Australian STEM award winners from 2011-2019 in the STEM Awards. The Coalition Government also launched the Advancing Women in STEM strategy this year to encourage the participation of women in the STEM industry. STEM in 2019 definitely saw some exciting events happening around the country.
STEM for the future
Looking forward to 2020, STEM, the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is definitely on the up! We need to make sure that our youth are prepared for the things that are to come in this rapidly evolving economy. Considering many of today’s parents started our lives without the internet, we can only imagine what the next 30 years will bring.
How then are we able to make sure that the next generation of Australians is future-ready?
Science and technology classes are therefore essential in helping equip our youth with the necessary skills for their future. It also exposes learners to what is commonly referred to as “soft skills” – such as communication, critical-thinking, problem-solving and independent learning through project-based , hands-on activities.
Rather than teaching young learners through rote learning, STEM allows students the ability to learn on their own, under the watchful eyes of teachers. This allows them to absorb their newly learned information and retain that information for a longer period of time. Students are also given the responsibility, autonomy and pride in the work that they do. Working together in groups to solve problems, teaches them teamwork, leadership and social skills.
Our specially designed courses and workshops at STEMmates are aimed at preparing our Australian youth for the futures that we cannot yet imagine.
Our courses are aimed for learners as young as 7 years old and we hope that they will be inspired to continue learning long after their time with us at STEMmates is finished. We hope to add value to the education system of the country and make sure that our future workforce will be ready for anything.
To all the young learners (and their parents) who have worked with us this year: thank you for your support in 2019 and we look forward to
further cultivating curiosity, imagination and passion for STEM in 2020. Season’s Greetings and a very Happy New Year!
Girl Up was founded by the United Nations in 2010 and since then has been working through projects around the world to achieve gender equality. They have created various ways in which people internationally can come together and defend the rights of females. Some of their programs include advocacy, fundraising, leadership and STEAM and STEM workshops. STEM – the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – and STEAM are almost identical in their pursuit, though the latter includes the Arts as well. The Girl Up movement hopes to encourage girls into careers in the technology industries.
Girl Up in Australia
The global movement had its first Australian summit in September 2019 in Sydney at The Women’s College. Ashleigh De Silva, Girl Up’s first regional leader, stated that the movement started in Sydney in 2018 and currently holds over 300 members. With an
interview with CIO magazine, De Silva stated, “Girl Up is really passionate about getting girls into STEM because that’s something that’s been very male dominated for a very long time. So it’s great to get girls into that industry – it starts from the grassroots when girls are still in school and it’s important to foster that interest.”
Event speaker, Eliza Dawes, head of marketing for GitHub APAC, challenged summit attendees by asking, “So why choose something like STEM? If you want to change gender equality or fight climate change, STEM gives you the skills where you can actually do something about it. Without science or the ability to look at the data and collaborate with your colleagues, it’s difficult to really make an active change. There are lots of ways to do it, but STEM gives you the ability to create change in the world and solve problems.”
Australian girls in STEM
Australia’s STEM population is
greatly made up of males. Women comprised only 17% of the qualified STEM population in 2016 and made up only 31% of the total number of STEM academics in 2016. Only 18% of Biology professors are female and this trend also continues in Engineering, seeing only 12.4% of the workforce there as female. The IT industry also is facing a similar issue with females making up 28% of the workforce in 2017.
STEMmates for girls in STEM
Like Girl Up, STEMmates hopes to encourage learners of all genders to defend gender equality and to become involved in STEM subjects. Through our hands-on courses and activity-based learning, we hope to spark an interest in young learners that will continue with them late into their careers. Get your child involved in our STEM courses today through our
Facebook and website pages. Because when girls rise, we all rise!
The Australian government recently announced changing its entry requirements for foreigners applying for a skilled worker visa to gain employment or permanent residency in Australia. The
legislation now allows applicants to be awarded 5 extra points if they have certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications. Some of these qualifications include biological sciences, civil engineering, information technology and physics and astronomy. These changes are likely to have positive effects in terms of addressing the current STEM skills shortage in Australia and were made after the 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report. This decision was made to maximise benefits to Australia’s economy and now allows the country to select the brightest professionals from all over the world for permanent residency.
Do we think that these changes are drastic? Or that they are imperative?
Australia has been facing a crisis in terms of the numbers of students and workers being interested in or finding employment in STEM industries. Surveys and articles over the last few years have warned us of Australia’s lack of qualified students and teachers in STEM fields.
For example, in 2014, we were told that Australia was facing a
math crisis where just one in ten students were choosing to study higher math in year 12. They also found that girls were less motivated to study math and science than boys, and this trend had already been continuing for 10 years. In the same article, Rachel Wilson, a researcher from the University of Sydney mentioned that “Australia is quite possibly the only developed nation on the planet that does not make it compulsory to study maths in order to graduate from high school.” Years later, this has still not changed.
Surveys showed that children from Sweden, Japan, Korea, Russia, Finland, Taiwan and Estonia, where math was made compulsory until the end of high school, were found to be better than Australian students in mathematics. Statistics also showed that these children were likely to choose STEM-related qualifications after leaving school. This clearly will make them far better equipped for the roles of the jobs of the future than our own Australian children and unfortunately, local employers will have to find international alternatives to solve the lack of skilled labour.
We need a fix
STEMmates is here to help be part of the solution! Our hands-on, activity-based, courses are designed to get children excited about STEM subjects at an early age. Through problem-solving and critical thinking, students are able to learn why STEM subjects are important and they also learn essential soft skills such as communication and teamwork. Get your child involved in Australia’s STEM solution today. Visit our
Facebook and website pages to find out more.
STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Occupations and careers that are reliant on the principles and concepts of these subjects have been gaining a lot of importance in recent years, and that will continue to be the case for years to come. In order to ensure that the youth of Australia excel in these subjects, to help cultivate an interest in studying these subjects, there will need to be an adequate supply of trained teachers in these subjects.
study in 2015, showed that this is not necessarily the case. A rise in the number of students across Australia is now causing a significant discrepancy between this number and the number of available skilled teachers. Based on the report, the gap is expected to widen until 2020 – even without an additional increase in the student population. Another trend that was highlighted in the report was the fact that during the 10 years prior to the report, 2 out of every 10 teachers in primary schools were male. This gender balance also differs according to the subjects as three-quarters of physics teachers are male. 40% of these males, however, are over 50 and will therefore probably be retiring in the next 15 to 20 years. They also found similar statistics for the subjects of mathematics, chemistry, computing and IT. These numbers suggest an impending shortage of teachers in STEM-related fields, as they remain largely male-dominated subjects, once these teachers leave the teaching profession for retirement.
The New South Wales Audit Office released a
report in January this year with similar findings. Insufficient numbers of qualified STEM teachers were attributed to an increase in student population, an ageing workforce and the reduction in the numbers of people entering the teaching profession. They also found high numbers of “out-of-field” teaching – a term used to describe a situation where teachers teach subjects that they were not familiar with. One-fifth of the teachers surveyed mentioned that they would teach out-of-field for at least five hours every two weeks. And this has played a role in the drop in student engagement.
Preventing the problem
With clear evidence to show that there is a lack of qualified STEM teachers, Australia must now try and combat the problem. The NSW audit recommended that their Department of Education work on ways to attract and retain teachers in the field. Some suggestions included investigation and adjustment to the current scholarship programs available. Others included better career pathways, monetary incentives and improved professional work environments.
Tapping on home-grown start-up companies is another way to move forward. Some Australian companies are now trying to help teachers with their administrative tasks, reducing the amount of take-home work, stress and more boring tasks teachers have to do.
STEMmates – Cultivating curiosity, imagination and passion
STEMmates is here to help with the problem. Our experienced teachers inspire students and encourage them to stay up-to-date with STEM – not just during our courses, but into their futures. Our courses are designed to stimulate the minds of young learners and keep them wanting to learn more, and hopefully, become teachers themselves in the future.
Find out how you get your child started on his STEM journey today by reading our
Facebook and website pages.
The Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science recently carried out a
15-minute online survey focusing on the attitudes and behavior of Australian students towards STEM education and STEM-related careers and industries. They commissioned a separate arm from the Student Edge’s market research team called YouthInsight, to conduct this study. The sample of surveyed participants included 2092 students aged 12 to 25 years from all over Australia. The report also targeted the issues with gender inequity currently being faced by members from STEM industries, education and career groups.
The Youth in STEM research report
Participants were asked a range of questions to determine their views on STEM and whether they recognized the acronym stood for. Fortunately, a high number – 62% of the surveyed group – did! And more than half of the students surveyed also admitted to considering studying STEM-related subjects in the future.
However, the study still showed there was a shift towards males preferring
STEM subjects than females. This trend continued when asked about STEM-related careers. More males were certain about pursuing professions in STEM-related roles than females. The younger generation that was surveyed were the ones to have the least interest and understanding in these subjects.
Most students who showed little interest in STEM-related subjects seemed to feel that way because of a lack of confidence in these subjects. They also believed that their low confidence was due to a lack of understanding in mathematics and that engineering was a “hard” subject. They also were a little confused with the word, “technology”, perceiving themselves as “non-techy” people and therefore not even considering studying any subject related to this field.
An interesting insight that came out of the survey, was that the numbers of students who highlighted the fact that their parent’s decisions were the most influential in their choice of subject for future study and career choice. This feature was more prominent in female than male participants. Friends and teachers were the next most influential people in their subject choices. Another interesting factor was that males seemed to be more concerned with choosing future subjects and careers based on external influences such as “YouTube” and the females were more inspired by an “ambition to change the world”.
Cultivating Curiosity, Imagination and Passion for STEM
Students that walk through the doors of all STEMmates workshops come from all backgrounds and walks of life. We hope that no matter what their current attitude about STEM subjects, our specially designed courses will steer them in a direction where they will be encouraged to continue their journey in STEM long into their futures. Our hands-on and activity-based lessons are designed to inspire students from young ages, despite their gender, to be excited about STEM subjects. Find out how you can get your child involved in our courses through our
website and Facebook pages.
Florence Violet Mckenzie, or Mrs Mac, as she was more affectionately known as, was born in 1890 and would devote the bigger part of her life to engineering in Australia. Unlike many of her male counterparts, Florence’s name is barely recognized around the country despite her service to it. McKenzie was Australia’s very first electrical engineer, first female amateur radio operator and she also later became the founder of the Electrical Association for Women.
During World War II, Florence created the Women’s Emergency Signaling Corps and some of her trainees were asked to work for the Royal Australian Navy. Her original idea was to train women to learn communications so that the men could serve the country in the war. The project was eventually known as the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service. She also trained about 12,000 servicemen in her Morse code training school. Between 1918 and 1934, she had her own successful electrical contracting and wireless supplies business and here, all her work was done pro bono.
McKenzie was also in correspondence with Albert Einstein in the years from 1949 leading up to the time he died. She would send him letters and gifts from all over the world, brought to her by her airline pilot friends.
Later elected a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Navigation and a Member of the Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society, when she died in 1982, she said,
“…it is finished, and I have proved to them all that women can be as good as, or better than men.”
Not everything was smooth sailing for Florence and her signalling “girls in green”. She had to design a uniform for them to make it very clear to the rest of the world that their service and motive was true. The navy also had to be convinced to let them work, and later, kept them a secret.
STEM Superwomen of today
STEM refers to science, technology, math and engineering. More and more companies and organizations from all industries are realizing the importance of women taking charge and joining STEM industries.
For example, earlier this year, the Bauer Media, the owner of brands like Women’s Weekly, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar, joined forces with Elucent Skincare to find the next
STEM superwoman. They advertised an AUD$20,000 grant for the winning participant who would join Elucent Skincare’s microbiologist Alexandra Kite in her work as a beauty scientist.
STEMmates’ goal is to empower all the children, male or female, that pass through our doors, to become the supermen and superwomen that they are.
Our courses are designed to teach them skills that will follow them into their adult years.
Give your child the chance to wear that cape today. Sign up for our STEM courses through our
Facebook and website pages.
In 2015, the government launched
NISA, the National Innovation and Science Agenda. This initiative was to focus on culture and capital, collaboration, talent and skills and the government as an example, for a period of 4 years. This year, however, marks the final year of this AUD$1.1 billion-dollar project. The recent 2019 budget announcements have not clearly stated what the government’s plan for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) will be over the next couple of years. They have focused on public outreach and engagement, VET or vocational education and training – lifelong learning through STEM education and continued support of the National Science and Technology Council. They are yet to provided figures to show their intentions in the field of research and development or how they plan to fund any new STEM initiatives.
Is this support fading?
Research and study
figures have shown that due to various reasons, the government’s support of research and development seems to have been fading since 2006. In order to make sure that Australia doesn’t fall behind, the minimum investment in these fields has been estimated at 3% of our gross domestic product, or GDP, by the year 2030. Something has to be done soon in order to make sure that promises of boosting Australia’s economy of knowledge do not fall through the cracks. Australia is still without a Minister for Science, and this could be the reason that efforts in Australia’s research and development fields are lacking.
Science’s future in Australia
200 scientists and technologists will meet with the senators and ministers in parliament in Canberra
in November this year as part of a program called, Science Meets Parliament. This meeting will serve to find solutions to the scientific challenges that are currently being faced in Australia, particularly how STEM can be involved in policy-making. The first session in 2015 discussed the topic, “Can STEM Save South Australia?”, which proved to be a great success which led to many future events being planned. Hopefully, this year’s meeting will continue to produce similar beneficial results.
STEMmates and Science
At STEMmates, we believe that the world is moving rapidly towards a world revolving around STEM concepts, teachings, skills and subjects. therefore, we want to make sure that the youth of today are ready for this STEM-focused economy of tomorrow. Our courses are designed to teach students important and relevant skills, both soft and technical. Hands-on activities and problem-based learning teach students fundamental concepts of STEM. Through experiments, enquiry and teacher-facilitated discussions, students learn how to analyse and think critically, communicate well and interact with their peers. For more information on our workshops and programs to help children prepare for tomorrow visit our
Facebook and blog pages.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM – is an acronym that cannot be ignored anymore. As the world advances and technological improvements continue, the need for new skills is increasing. Australia’s mining sector is also slowly taking a back seat while STEM industries emerge to take on the challenges posed by an ever-evolving and dynamic global economy.
Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC), if we changed just 1% of the current workforce’s roles into STEM-related positions, it could add AUD$57.3 billion back to Australia’s gross domestic product or GDP. They also mention that if Australia fails to take this leap, we could drop out of the world’s top 20 best economies by the year 2050.
Preparing Tomorrow’s Innovators
In order for Australia to be competitive in this relatively new STEM game, our workforce needs to be skilled enough to play. In 2015, the government launched the National Education STEM Strategy as part of a National Innovation and Science Agenda. AUD$65 million has been put aside for both the development of teachers and for specialized STEM programs in classrooms. The public library system also now offers programs and services to encourage more interest in STEM subjects. It is also our responsibility as adults to educate our young about the demand and necessity to be in tune with these subjects. We also need to continue upgrading ourselves in order to be able to pass the knowledge on to our country’s future innovators, researchers and leaders.
Teach STEM as a career
Many educational institutions and universities around the country now offer various courses, scholarships and internships for people aspiring to improve their STEM abilities and gain the credentials to teach. For example,
Monash offers a graduate certification in STEM education. The government has also introduced the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarship Program for up to AUD$18,000 per individual to study at a vocational education institution or university.
There is also the Goldsmith Family Women in STEM scholarship which is aimed at Australian residents with an ATAR in the 90
th percentile. It offers individuals AUD$7,500 a year for each of their years of study and aims to entice more females to take on careers in STEM industries.
At STEMmates, our highly qualified teachers have gone through rigorous educational programs and constantly interact with parents of our students in hopes of building our STEMmates community. We look forward to more expressions of interest to grow this community of parents, friends and educators, who share in the vision of cultivating curiosity, imagination and passion for STEM. Find out how to get your children involved in our STEM-related courses through our
Facebook and website pages.