STEAM – the NEW STEM 2.0

According to the Australian Education Council’s National STEM School Education Strategy (Dec 2015), employment is predicted to increase in professional, scientific and technical services by 14 per cent and in health care by almost 20 per cent.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated that some STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) jobs, such as ICT professionals and engineers, have grown at about 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years.

International research shows that building STEM capacity across the population is critical in helping to support innovation and productivity regardless of occupation or industry. Consistent with this research, industry surveys show that STEM literacy is increasingly becoming part of the core capabilities that Australian employers need.

However, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel’s report showed that the performance of Australian students in science and maths subjects is consistently below their international peers. So given the growth of STEM-based jobs, the education sector is under the pump to respond.

Science allows me to evolve my curiosity as each question that arises has an answer and a process on how to get there. Science has also allowed me to be really creative as I can use different processes and procedures to find out the answer. Kyra von Steigler, Year 12

Broadening the Scope of STEM

While educators and policy makers grapple with the uptake of STEM-based subjects, STEM has since evolved into STEAM. In addition, the 4 Cs of 21st Century skills – critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration – are now considered core competencies of STEAM-based roles.

What is STEAM?

STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths) is a way to take the benefits of STEM and complete the package by integrating these principles in and through the arts.  STEAM takes STEM to the next level: it allows students to connect their learning in these critical areas together with arts practices, elements, design principles, and standards to provide the whole pallet of learning at their disposal.  STEAM removes limitations and replaces them with wonder, critique, inquiry, and innovation.

‘Nobel laureates in the sciences are seventeen times likelier than the average scientist to be a painter, twelve times as likely to be a poet, and four times as likely to be a musician.’ Steven Ross Pomeroy

STEAM at Kilvington

Kilvington has long recognised STEM as an important platform for young people in preparation for the 21st Century workplace. In particular, we are very supportive of girls embracing STEM and now STEAM.

We believe the key to motivating students to study science is to ensure that they are excited by the subject from a young age. Activities such as Science Week, Science and STEM clubs competitions and masterclasses are key to engaging students in science. Once they’re hooked – the sky’s the limit!

‘Science to me is about discovery. The idea of being the first person in history to know something is infinitely exciting.’ Alex Hyde, Year 12

Our Robotics and Engineering flagship program attracts both girls and boys to the subject, Club and competitions. Female students are encouraged to attend Women in Engineering camps, and our cross curricular programs mesh multiple subjects such as science, maths, art and technology into projects that our students can collaborate on and experience as a team. These include:

Our Sustainable World
Student design and build a model of a sustainable city, and participate in a three day intensive project that combines Science, Maths, Art, Engineering and Technology.

Toy Time 
Students form a company that then designs and builds a toy to teach a 10-year-old about forces. The company consists of a Market Research Executive, Design and Building Executive, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor.

The project runs across Science, Maths, IT and Art for a period of three weeks after which each groups’ finished toy is presented at a Toy Time Showcase. Our Yeas 3 and 4 students award the Kids Choice Award and an industry expert awards the Industry Award.

Helping Hands
Year 9 students work in teams to build prosthetic arms, which are then be sent to land mine victims in countries across the world.

The students are tested on their design and engineering skills, as they have to be able to build a working prosthetic arm that is of high enough quality to be sent to a recipient. Their team working abilities are also put to the test, as they have to build the arm with the dominant hand covered. This forces students to work effectively as a group and also shows them how difficult ordinary everyday tasks become with only one arm – encouraging empathy.

In the future we are planning to introduce an overseas STEAM study trip and STEAM elective in Years 9 and 10.

‘I love science because it makes sense of seemingly everything! Small things like why we sweat to big things like evolution and human ancestry. I especially love being able to explain to people exactly what’s happening to them when they have a cold or why they have a fever.’ Jade Redman, Year 11

Ref: Australian Government, Industry Employment Projections 2015 Report; ABS Perspectives on Education and Training: Australian qualifications in STEM, 2010-11, Cat. 4250.0.55.005.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), A Smart Move: future-proofing Australia’s workforce by growing skills in STEM (2015).
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