What will students be doing in the classroom?
Students will spend 1-2 hours per week over 8 weeks on this STEM project. The project is aligned across Science, Maths, and Digital Technologies curriculum outcomes and is focused on the Science units of work including Living World, Material World, Physical World, Earth and Space, Digital Technologies. The program is structured around design thinking and inquiry-based learning explained below.
“Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.” (Interaction Design Foundation)
The program is structured around the five stages of design thinking:
- Define the problem
Inquiry-based learning emphasises the student's role in the learning process. Rather than the teacher telling students what they need to know, students are encouraged to explore the material, ask questions, and share ideas.
How can STEM play continue at home?
We encourage families to take part in STEM exploration with their child as we take them through the design thinking process with their teachers and peers in class. For each phase of design thinking, there are questions to engage students and inspire curiosity. By knowing what they are up to in the classroom, families can engage in a more meaningful conversation about all the real-world opportunities there are to apply STEM skills.
There are amazing resources online to continue STEM learning for free. Some that we recommend:
- https://microbit.org/ - Use the online simulator to learn how to code an electronics board
- https://code.org/ - There are hundreds of projects for all different ages to teach your kids to code
- https://www.tinkercad.com/ - Get your kids thinking in 3D with this design software
“My daughter absolutely loved this program, has a renewed sense of accomplishment and felt incredibly valued in her group. I will be investing in a Microbit and look into the Tech Girls are Superheroes Competition.” - Parent
Gender equity in STEM
This program aims to increase the interest and confidence of all students in STEM while also addressing the 'leaky pipeline' of girls in STEM. We have put together some statistics and resources that can help you understand why girls opt out of STEM.
Frequently asked questions
Why is UTS delivering this program?
UTS Women in Engineering and IT aims to break down the pervasive gender stereotypes that create barriers for girls entering STEM professions. As these stereotypes start from a young age, so do our programs.
Is this program for both girls and boys?
Yes. STEM is non-gendered so our program is too. We highly encourage mixed-gender learning and play as diversity of thought increases innovation.
How will the program be evaluated?
UTS has a commitment to creating positive sustainable social impact. The program has been designed in consultation with teachers, parents, students and curriculum experts as well as professionals from STEM education organisations. The effectiveness of this program will be evaluated using several tools including surveys, interviews and self-reflection. We will be measuring the following expected outcomes:
Increased interest in STEM subjects in the classroom
Increased interest in STEM play at home
Increased confidence in STEM skills
Improved ability in STEM subjects
Increased teacher confidence in integrating STEM technologies in the curriculum
Increased family involvement in STEM learning
Changes in perceptions of gender roles of students and families
A consent form for your, and your child’s participation in this research will be provided prior to the program commencement.
What role do families play in encouraging students to have an interest in STEM?
Families play a key role in influencing a child's identity, confidence and interests. Engaging your children in conversations about their STEM projects shows them that it is worth being interested in, and encouraging your child to try, fail, learn and repeat will help them develop the confidence needed to study STEM subjects.
Even if you are not a STEM professional yourself, you can open their minds to possibilities in STEM by introducing them to friends or family who are. STEM opportunities are endless... to see where STEM could take your child, check out the Careers with STEM app.
What STEM equipment can I buy for my child?
There is a wide range of STEM equipment which varies in price. Here are some more economical options!
- Microbit - The BBC micro:bit is a handheld, programmable micro-computer that can be used for all sorts of cool creations, from robots to musical instruments – the possibilities are endless.
- Makey makey - Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.
- Sphero - With a striking LED matrix and advanced sensors, the Sphero BOLT app-enabled robot provides endless opportunities to be creative and have fun while learning.
What other opportunities are there for girls in STEM?
- Tech Girls Movement - Founded by Jenine Beekhuyzen, the tech girls movement engaged more than 1000 girls directly in STEM Entrepreneurship Education in 2018 alone. The Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero Competition, gives girls aged 7 - 17 the opportunity to build an app that solves a problem in their local community.
- Young ICT Explorers - Young ICT Explorers is a non-profit competition, which has been created by SAP to encourage school students to create their best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related projects.
- Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences School Holiday Workshops - MAAS offers a wide range of workshops across different STEM streams including girls only workshops.
Have any questions?
Speak to your child's teacher with any questions or concerns and they will get in touch with us.