STEM teacher development for Mid North Coast educators

Justin Munro, Design and Technology Teacher at SCAS.
Justin Munro, Design and Technology Teacher at SCAS.

School leavers in 2030 will on average work in 17 different jobs across five industries.

This is according to Alecia Rathbone from the Foundation for Young Australians who opened the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) professional development day at St Columba Anglican School. 

Research from FYA also shows that many entry level jobs are disappearing, with automation, globalisation and collaboration the three key forces shaping the future of work.

This was a fitting start to a day of workshops for teachers focusing on helping students develop enterprise skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and creativity through the use of STEM technologies.

Thanks to a CS4HS grant from Google, over 90 teachers and education students from 28 schools enjoyed learning more about technology and how their teaching could encourage students to engage in STEM.

Participants travelled from as far afield as Wyong and Coffs Harbour to participate in over 20 different workshops. These workshops included robotics (vex & StarLAB), coding (Scratch, CS First and App development), Google apps, Micro:bits, Makey Makeys, pneumatic rockets, drones and Google Expeditions.

It was a collaborative venture with workshop presenters from a number of local state, independent and Catholic schools.

Chris Hamling from VEX Robotics in New Zealand encouraged teachers to get involved in the vex robotics competition, with over 20,000 schools participating worldwide.

Xanthe Kerr from Tacking Point Primary School, Ben de Braun from Tacking Point Primary School, Dayna Morlitz, Assistant Principal, Tacking Point Primary School and Daniel Zavone of SCAS.

Xanthe Kerr from Tacking Point Primary School, Ben de Braun from Tacking Point Primary School, Dayna Morlitz, Assistant Principal, Tacking Point Primary School and Daniel Zavone of SCAS.

Levi Weitenburg and Clinton McKinnon from StarLAB in Newcastle showcased the StarLAB platform, a programming sensor platform with a robotics expansion, which is well suited to the new iSTEM course for year 9 and 10 students in NSW.

Meridith Ebbs, who is a STEM teacher at St Columba and NSW project officer for Adelaide Universities CSER Digital Technologies Team, helped teachers understand the implications to changes in STEM to the national and state curriculum.

Rachel Bennett, teacher at Kempsey Adventist School said the experience took her out of her comfort zone.

“Today has opened up my eyes to the world of possibilities that STEM offers,” she said.

Event organiser Geoff Lancaster, the Head of Innovative Learning at St Columba Anglican School, was particularly encouraged by the involvement of many education students from CSU and Newcastle University studying teaching locally in Port Macquarie.

“It is a great opportunity for these aspiring teachers to see the direction education is heading and to be ready to drive STEM initiatives in the schools they move into,” he said.

Dayna Moritz, assistant principal at Tacking Point Public School, said a conference of this calibre wa sa coup for the region.

“It’s very rare to have a conference like this in our region, and especially one that covers the whole STEM field. I came last year and took back a lot to my school and this year I’m really embracing everything there is to offer,” she said.