Adding the X factor to STEM learning

An exciting first for ABCN this year was a new STEM program for primary school students. Collaborating with our newest member company, NBN Co, the STEM+X Initiative takes STEM learning to a whole new level.

The ‘X’ is the element that helps students engage in STEM through their own personal interests and passions – kids who love to cook can see how science comes into play in the kitchen, while the sports-mad can see how data helps improve performance on the field. Through active learning, students can combine newly learnt STEM skills with their imagination to see, feel and hear first-hand, the relevance of STEM beyond the classroom.

210 eager students from eight of our partner schools took part in the first stage of the program last term in workshops facilitated by ABCN and supported by mentors from NBN Co. With their thinking hats on, the students put their newly learnt critical thinking skills to the test. Even the humble carrot had a moment to shine as the kids used connectors to turn everyday objects into controllers, to play music, games and more on the internet.

The next step was the ‘Futurists’ Fair’ – a virtual learning competition which challenged the students to draw on their STEM+X skills and solve a problem in their school or community. Each school presented their project live via video-conference in what turned out to be a tough gig for the judges as they heard about a sustainable ‘Dream Shelter’ for students to enjoy their outdoor area, a ‘School-Savers’ app designed to provide less-fortunate students with access to school essentials, and a range of apps that encourage environmental responsibility.

And in an exciting twist… hit YouTubers, Brett and Scott from How Ridiculous, not only joined the panel, but will also visit the winning school in person to host a special STEM+X learning session.

‘The [program] really highlights the importance of STEM and allows them to think about how STEM applies to everyday life’, said Principal Darlene Cameron from Ballarat. ‘We are looking forward to watching how our students’ views on STEM evolve as they think outside the box to apply these skills to their passions and future careers.

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