Over 70 Australian teachers have come together in Canberra this week to take part in a professional learning program that will boost their skills in bringing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) knowledge to their classrooms.
Held from 6-11 January, the STEM X Academy is a five-day residential professional learning program for teachers of science, developed by Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) to address the national need for improving teacher and student STEM skills and content knowledge.
“No one leaves the STEM X Academy without being changed,” said Jared Wilkins, Questacon’s senior manager of learning. “The participants are challenged to be hands-on, as they learn by doing and then use their new knowledge and skills to create engaging new lessons.”
The program helps teachers acquire the skills and confidence to design, develop and implement their own teaching resources. STEM X Academy partners teachers with skilled educators from Questacon and CSIRO, and expert researchers to collaborate on projects across five days, fostering relationships between teachers, schools and industry.
Mary Mulcahy, education director at CSIRO, said partnering teachers with scientists and STEM Education experts will enable them to better understand and develop the teaching tools relevant to the world of science today.
“This experience will assist teachers to equip their students with the critical skill-sets needed to tackle the challenges of the future,” Mulcahy said.
Teachers have been selected from each state and territory, with some teachers coming from rural and remote schools where teacher professional development is difficult to access.
The program brings together both experienced and early career teachers creating a national professional network that endures.
“The Australian Science Teachers Association sees the provision of high-quality professional learning as an essential ingredient to the continued development of teachers,” said ASTA President, Geoff Quinton.
“The fact that the STEM X Academy received over 300 applications for only 70 places, to a program held in the middle of the summer holidays, demonstrates not only the high regard for CSIRO, Questacon and ASTA programs but also the willingness of teachers to give up their personal time to improve their practice.”