By Brett Salakas
The WorldSTEM challenge is a grass-roots initiative created by teachers for the benefit of teachers and it is gaining momentum fast!
In early 2016, a small group of teachers came together to discuss what the serious roadblocks were to enabling the quality teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). They came up with three main issues:
Teachers are often blocked by the cost of STEM initiatives, knowing where to start with the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum and being able to clearly link STEM lessons to the curriculum to ensure quality teaching and learning occurs. WorldSTEM Challenge has been designed to change all of that.
The aim is to ‘crowdsource’ a video bank of quality STEM lessons and ideas for teachers around the world. The idea is simple: ask teachers who are making great STEM lessons to share their ideas in a short video (around 2 minutes). These video will then be made accessible via an easy to navigate online bank. Teachers from around the world will be able to visit WorldSTEM.co and be inspired by a range of top-quality lessons.
What Goes into a WorldSTEM Challenge Video?
- Videos should showcase pedagogy and practice, not necessarily tech tools.
- Ideas are welcome from kindergarten to year 12.
- All videos need to be posted to YouTube and details filled out on the online form. Visit worldstem.co
- To be eligible, videos must be uploaded and linked to the online form by 30th June, 2017.
- All videos should be approximately two minutes in length. Nothing over four minutes please.
There are three reasons why teachers should get involved in the WorldSTEM Challenge:
- Firstly, the altruistic nature of teaching compels us to help others. It is what we do. By uploading a video in the WorldSTEM Challenge, you are sharing best practice with other teachers. This not only benefits our colleagues around the world, but has the potential to impact on the learning of thousands of students.
- A selection panel will critique all entries in July 2017. One video will be selected as the winner. The teacher who submitted that video will be named WorldSTEM Teacher of the Year 2017. Prizes for your school will accompany the title.
- Finally, the innovative story behind the video will be shared globally. It will feature in multiple magazines (from separate countries). It will also appear on selected high-profile blogs globally. This will be great exposure for the teacher, students and especially the innovative school involved.
What should your Video Contain?
- All applications should be submitted using our online form. Please visit worldSTEM.com
- Include your name and tell us a little bit about the students that you are working with.
- Explain the task clearly so that other teachers can learn from you and use your techniques.
- Remember, these videos are mainly about showcasing practice, not necessarily expensive tools.
- Keep it short but feel free to be as creative as you like (there are no rules on style other than time length).
- Explain how your lesson links to the curriculum.
- Showcase the results of the students work. Maybe even share their voice?
More than a Single Challenge!
Education is facing obstacles in implementing STEM equitably, due to a lack of affordability, accessibility and actionability. The aim is to make student-friendly resources that support teachers in overcoming these challenges.
WorldSTEM is currently designing simple teacher- and student-friendly STEM kits at a fraction of the commercial price. Educational technologies in Australia are outpricing many schools, particularly in regional areas. Inexpensive technology resources and kits means more students can get hands-on with project-based learning within STEM. Kits include powerful but relatively inexpensive electronics such as Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, Makey Makeys and accompanying sensors and actuators.
All digital resources will be available online for the WorldSTEM Challenge and freely available to Australian teachers. The ‘tyranny of distance’ that is Australia’s geographical and educational landscape is circumvented. As a result, WorldSTEM is an equity leveller in the currently uneven context of Australian STEM education.
The WorldSTEM Challenge creates a cache of lessons and programs that demonstrates ways students apply their knowledge and practical skills and processes when using technologies and other resources to create innovative solutions, independently and collaboratively. WorldSTEM is currently developing a series of activities that are STEM-related and link directly to the Australian Curriculum for Digital Technologies and related key learning areas.
By guiding students through the process of design thinking within the contexts of systems thinking and computational thinking (three key ideas of the Technologies syllabus), we literally take teachers and students through the entire process of STEM teaching and learning.
Potential Plus – The WorldSTEM Movement is Here
The real potential of the WorldSTEM project is the size of its scalability. It is literally possible to reach hundreds (if not thousands) of teachers and as a result impact the learning of thousands of Australian (and global) students.
As a teacher, the full scope of the conversation around STEM education is hard to take in all at once, particularly when we are held accountable to our subjects and their syllabus-based outcomes. Couple this with the fact that many STEM initiatives are very expensive and suddenly you end up in the situation we are in; one where teachers agree that STEM is of high importance but, because of challenges integrating with the curriculum, a shortage of money and a steep learning curve, no real change can occur.
WorldSTEM’s solution is to modify STEM tasks and challenges so that they directly relate to core curriculum outcomes, and to package simple, teacher-friendly STEM kits at a fraction of the commercial price!
WorldSTEM is an Australian-based initiative with a worldwide ambition. Created by real teachers who have faced the same problems as other educators when implementing STEM, Rob McTaggart and Brett Salakas have found and are developing workable solutions for students and educators at all levels.
STEM should be about the learning and the possibilities, not about the cost. With WorldSTEM, teachers would not only be investing in standalone kits but also tailor-made units of work that are mapped to the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum. These include practical, authentic integrations with mathematics, science, technology and engineering as the student projects explore concepts within the key learning areas.
Visit worldSTEM.co or Twitter @WorldSTEMedu for more information.
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