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!
The first engineering school in Australia opened in 1861 with 15 students enrolled. From handwritten notes to online lectures and task-based learning, learning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) has definitely come a long way. 150 years later, STEM is being recognized around Australia as a force to be reckoned with. Since its humble start, the government has allocated a lot of resources to make sure that STEM subjects are given their due importance.
The Australian government has put aside AUD$64 million as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NIA) to fund STEM initiatives in Australian schools. Some of these initiatives include, Embracing the Digital Age and Inspiring STEM Literacy. They have also put aside $1.5 million to introduce Artificial Intelligence in Schools.
In 2015, the Australian government set up the National STEM School Education Strategy, which is meant to continue until 2026. The Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) is another initiative that was started in 2018 and continued for a second year this year. The program initially targeted 97 preschools, 400 educators and 4000 children around the country and then progressed to 110 preschools in 2019.
The future of STEM in Australia
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that STEM will still be important into the future. They predict that jobs of tomorrow will need problem solving skills, digital skills and creative thinking. With the amount of money that the Australian government has put into STEM in recent years, it is definitely a worthwhile investment.
Today, many universities and STEM related industries see life-long learning as an imperative skill. They have coined the term, ‘micro-credentialing’ – where people need to go back to school for shorter courses but have to constantly upgrade themselves to keep up with the trends. As technology changes rapidly and continues to become more and more complex, employees too, need to constantly upgrade themselves.
STEMmates for the future
STEMmates is proud to be one of the beacons of STEM in Australia. We endeavor to make sure that every child that comes to our courses is inspired and encouraged to continue their STEM journey.
Our hands-on classes and activity-based workshops are designed to spark excitement in the eyes of our young learners. Our courses also teach students essential soft skills that are crucial for their future lives. Our aim is to get them ‘career-ready’, even when they are as young as 7 years old.
We can only imagine what lies ahead for the future of STEM. But we need to make sure that our children hit the ground running. Make sure that your child is prepared for what lies ahead.
Sign up for our holiday programs and classes for 2020 on our
website and Facebook pages today!
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.
Creativity is defined as, “the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.” It used to be associated with the arts and related to people with artistic orientation.
Today, creativity has found its way into every industry and it is a skill that is looking to gain more and more importance into the future. Being able to find creative ways to solve problems especially is going to be a skill that many employers will seek in candidates for job positions.
How creative are we?
Adobe did a survey, asking 2000 people around the world what they thought about how prepared students were for this rise in the need for creative problem-solving skills.
They found that 97% of educators and 96% of policymakers saw a need for creative problem solving to be learned in schools. 86% of educators and 85% of policymakers reported that students with better creative problem-solving skills would eventually have higher-paying jobs in the future. They also found that 69% of educators and 61% of policymakers thought that schools and the curriculum they follow, are not placing enough emphasis on children learning this crucial skill. They saw only a 12% emphasis on students learning conflict management and innovative thinking skills
The main issue concerns a lack of creativity being taught in schools. In another
article, 73% of teachers said that they spend too little time picking out what to teach in class, 44% said they don’t demonstrate in creative ways and 43% said that they don’t try new ways to teach. Is school culture then limiting the creativity of both our teachers and students
STEMmates is creative!
STEMmates encourages creativity in all our courses. Students use problem-solving methods to figure out complex theories and gain new knowledge in our courses.
These specially designed courses, therefore, appeal to even younger children even though the concepts may be difficult. For example, we teach aerodynamics to children as young as 7 years old.
They learn through creative methods, such as hands-on activities and independent learning. We also encourage students to learn in groups, where they learn how to argue their points with their peers and their teachers, finding solutions for problems together. Learning through success and failure, students are able to learn how to think analytically. Help your child find his creative spark! Register your interest in our next set of courses by visiting our
website or Facebook pages, today.
Failure is usually defined as a lack of success. Not being able to succeed in a certain venture or attempt at something. Unfortunately, failure comes with a lot of negative connotations, so much so, that we don’t want it anywhere in our lives. But, is this reasonable?
Many self-help books talk about failure, but most importantly, the positive side of something as negative as this. Let’s look at the plethora of bumper stickers, motivational posters and inspirational quotes that talk about failure in a positive light. “Failure is the key to success” and “If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again”. These are very commonly known lines that have been used as encouragement when one has not performed so well. And these are the connotations that should accompany failure. Not those of disheartenment and giving up.
Failure in STEM
Students in Australia have been dropping out of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects for fear of failure. They assume that these subjects are too difficult, and therefore, would rather choose an easier path to score well in examinations. This year saw
high-level math enrolments drop to its lowest number in 20 years. A study done on 2000 students from 12-25 years old, saw many of them having very low confidence levels in math and considering engineering a “hard” subject. This was especially so among females. This aversion to STEM subjects due to their perceived difficulty and possible cause of failure is a big reason why students are steering clear of these in schools and for their later careers.
Encouraging the failure
As adults, educators, parents and guardians, as strange as this will sound, we need to be advocates for failure. We need to promote these truisms, that “success taught me nothing, failure taught me everything!”. We have to show the younger generation that failure is essential to becoming successful later in life, and STEM subjects are just an example of all of the hardships that they may encounter, and then eventually thrive from. The more children know that it is okay to fail, the more they will simply want to try. Difficult subjects in school, along with examinations and tests, are just the first hurdles they will have to leap over.
Success with STEMmates
STEMmates courses are designed to teach young learners that failure (or the fear of it) is not something that should stop someone from having a go. Instead, we focus on allowing learners to develop using problem-solving and critical analysis, rather than rote learning. Learners are encouraged to not give up and try again – figuring out complexed assignments through trial and error methods and communicating, both with their teachers and with each other. This also eventually helps them to retain their new knowledge a lot longer and, hopefully, keep them interested in STEM way into their future.
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
Facebook and website pages.
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
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.