Have you ever been told to close your eyes and visualise your future self? Working at your dream job, living your dream life and having a “happy ever after” moment? Visualizing a goal is a powerful way to achieve it.
The problem in STEM industries though, is that many young people, especially young females, don’t visualise themselves in any of the roles pertaining to Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM). As a result, the STEM industry has seen a lack of numbers of skilled workers entering these fields.
Studies have shown that a science identity is as important as an interest in science. Students who can see themselves working in STEM fields are more likely to be the ones who take part in STEM subjects throughout their educational years.
Researchers found that science identity was linked to “a match between school science and real science, consistent extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and a sense of community and affiliation.” They found that middle school and high school females fared poorly on the measurement for science identity.
What can we do?
The research is clear then. In order for young learners to have a strong science identity and become and stay interested in STEM subjects, they need to be inspired by strong science identities!
Having people around them to influence them and lead them on the path to STEM is a very important factor in making sure that Australia’s STEM roles stay filled.
Positive effects were found when students had good mentor-mentee relationships.
In commonly male-dominated fields like STEM, female students also need to be better encouraged to stay and persevere. They need to feel safe and be shown that women have equal rights and abilities in these fields as well as many others.
Mentors also need to be sensitive to emotional issues in both boys and girls, not just educational ones. As mentors, we also need to be well educated in STEM subjects and continually keep up to date with trends in order to be an example for our younger generation.
STEMmates has always strived for gender equality in STEM. Our specially designed courses and workshops are targeted at both girls and boys from as young as 7 years old.
We hope to support them in their STEM journeys by igniting that science identity spark at an early age. We also encourage any student, regardless of what they might want to do in University or higher education, to take up STEM.
The soft skills that are refined and developed as a result will help them be equipped for the jobs and economy of the future, no matter what field that may be in.
Give your child some support too by signing them up for our courses today. More information can be found on our
Facebook and website pages.
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!
Most of us have been around long enough to realize that what was once considered Sci-Fi, is very much today’s norm. People are zipping around on personal mobility devices and maneuvering them without the use of their arms. Our children know how to use tablets and phones even before being able to read.
And yes, we now talk to robots. Most websites now feature some sort of artificially intelligent run chatbot, that answers most of our questions without them even being read by a real person. In 2017,
Sophia, was named the world’s first robot citizen in Saudi Arabia.
What then is there left for the average Joe to do, if robots and technology are taking over our planet? Even Bill Gates once talked about a “
robot tax” to slow down the insanely rapid rate of automation that our world is moving at. This idea was rejected by lawmakers, of course. But it does make sense to think about compensating people whose jobs have been lost to robots.
This displacement is just going to become more widespread and the problem with unemployed real people, is just going to worsen. Estimates are that
6 million jobs could be replaced with automation by 2030.
How do we stay on top?
Change brings with it, opportunity. We just need to find it.
Today’s workforce needs to be skilled and adaptable if it is going to survive the age of automation. Artificial intelligence, Big Data, Coding, The Internet of Things and Robotics are all terms used quite often in today’s business world and the businesses need people who understand how it all works.
Australian school systems are starting to realize this trend and are now putting a lot more emphasis on STEM subjects in school, which refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. To have a skilled workforce, the country must have competent students ready to take on the challenge. These students will not only need technological skills but a plethora of soft skills as well. These include, an analytical mindset, high levels of emotional intelligence, leadership and creativity. That’s where STEM methods come in.
STEMmates uses teaching methods that inspire children to learn. The future generation is not going to be able to learn one skill, and use it alone for the rest of their career, like generations of old. They need to be dynamic and studying will be a permanent part of their lives.
Our courses are designed to encourage children to pick up difficult and technical knowledge at a young age. Our Introduction to Aerodynamics course, for example, is aimed at children as young as 7. Through our lessons, children also pick up valuable soft skills, such as, problem-solving, creative thinking and communication.
For more information, visit our
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Technology is continuing to evolve and has found its way into almost every current industry. This idea of digital transformation simply refers to the integration of
digital technology into all areas of a business. This change in the way we allow businesses to function, also implies a need to change the way businesses operate – and how value is delivered to their clients.
What is Digital Transformation?
Being a relatively new idea, businesses are experimenting and finding a niche set of technologies to transform themselves into something viable in this digital era. This also means that processes and methods used in the past may have to be tweaked or done away with completely.
Businesses essentially need to reinvent themselves, and along the way, face up to the the reality that failure could be a real possibility. However, in order to succeed with this shift, businesses and companies need to have a solid foundation in their leadership, culture and strategy.
The Digital Transformation strategy
Experts have highlighted five Digital Transformation elements. These are, “customer experience, operational agility, culture and leadership, workforce enablement and digital technology integration.”
It may be interesting to note that four out of those five elements, focus more on the human aspect of a business rather than a digital one. It goes to show then that people are still the at the center of importance for a business to succeed, even in this world of digitalization.
People are still involved in implementing the new technologies and making sure that these new methods work well. Soft skills are now in greater demand, along with the room and latitude to allow leaders and managers to analyze what their needs – and make the necessary changes essential to their companies’ success.
STEM and Digital Transformation
So, where does STEM stand in all of this? Even though STEM refers to Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics, the STEM methodologies teach many critical soft skills.
Students are left with problems to solve using their own intuition and analytical minds, rather than just being handed textbooks and asked to memorize answers for tests. They are made to discuss their views in groups, learning communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills.
STEM methodologies involve students learning through doing. They use activity-based projects and hands-on experimentation to learn about complex theories.
How STEMmates can help
STEMmates starts your children on the STEM methodologies at very young ages. We instill a sense of curiosity and excitement in your children about STEM subjects, at the same time, preparing them for this age of digitalization, through the many soft skills taught simultaneously during each hands-on, activity-based learning workshop.
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
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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
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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
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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.
It should come as no surprise that children who are encouraged and supported by their parents perform better than others. They also are able to succeed later on in life when they are studying as independent learners.
Studies have shown that children with lower than average tend to raise themselves if their parents become involved in their education. It was also shown that children with a higher level of parental support proceeded to plan for further education. On the other hand, children who had little or no family support, typically received lower grades and in some cases, eventually dropped out of school.
The Australian Government’s view on parental engagement
The Australian Government fully supports the view that children perform better when parents are engaged in their education. Because of this, they are supporting several initiatives to encourage this. For example, the Learning Potential App and Learning Potential Resources are free tools that guardians can use to be a part of their child’s learning. They both support the Australian Curriculum for primary school. They are also working on a
parent engagement project with the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, which involves initiating the Australian Parent Engagement Network as well as the appointment of Local Champions. The Learning for Life Program is another initiative has seen an investment of AUD$48 million being made, in hopes of supporting 24,000 disadvantaged students to stay in school and prepare for their transition to higher education.
How to support young learners
There are a variety of ways that parents can support their children through their foundational years.
But, the key in all of this is to stay informed. Make sure you know what your child is up to in school. How are they performing and what should they be learning? How much do you know about your child’s syllabus? Are you able to help them if they need assistance with their homework, or do you need to engage the help of an external tutor or organization to help them when they face difficulties in school?
School websites usually have updates for parents about when testing dates are and staff contact information. Make sure you know your child’s teachers and are able to establish good communication channels with them. Try and stay connected to your child’s network. Do you know their friends and their friends’ parents? Take care of them at home. Send your children to school with nutritious meals and a good night’s sleep. Make sure that they are not constantly distracted by video games and The Internet before bedtime.
At STEMmates, we make sure that parents are kept up to date with their child’s progress. Teachers communicate children’s progress and parents are given context and feedback about their child’s performance in class.
We strive to ensure that our children are well supported through their education and formative years. Get information about how your child can be a part of our STEMmates community today through our Facebook and website pages.
These days, with the variety of ways children can find information, it is not uncommon to hear how the internet has become a primary source for their information. There is now a huge amount of information available online, from websites to blogs, to forums and even social media. With such a huge realm of knowledge that is readily available to them, how then, can we make school and the classrooms as enticing to this data-hungry generation and keep them coming back to gain the necessary skills they will need as adults?