The jobs of the future will be in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM for short.
But girls and students from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out because of a low uptake of STEM subjects at school.
Now a Campbelltown school wants to do something about closing the STEM gap in the Macarthur region.
St Patrick’s College for Girls, a Catholic school which already has a vigorous STEM strategy for its own students, will hold an annual challenge to increase awareness of the importance of subjects like science and maths.
The first ever Macarthur STEM Challenge was the brainchild of a group of staff at St Patrick’s College.
Nine local schools, government and private, have already expressed their interest in participating in the challenge on October 20 at St Patrick’s.
The principal of St Patrick’s College, Mrs Sue Lennox, says the school, as the only all girls’ college in the Macarthur area, is keen to promote the uptake of STEM by girls and other disadvantaged students.
Mrs Lennox said St Patrick’s College encouraged its students to take up STEM subjects in a number of ways.
“Firstly, science as an example is delivered in the classroom that engages the girls much more – this means the choice of topics and projects are created in a way to capture their interest,’’ Mrs Lennox said.
“As an all-girls environment, the girls really do set the agenda and we work with their interest and curiosity.
“Our uptake for science subjects in senior years is quite high.
“Furthermore, we have problem based learning in Year 7 where students learn STEM skills in an integrated maths/science environment.
“Most science programs include elements of STEM. Middle school teachers in maths/science/TAS work closely across the curriculum.
“Lastly, we have a science enrichment program that gives students a number of opportunities to approach science from a number of different angles, including STEM,’’ Mrs Lennox said.
The Education Council recently released an education strategy for STEM across all schools in Australia.
The strategy made a prediction that the inequalities which currently exist in STEM, particularly for girls, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and students from non-metropolitan areas, will result in these groups being more likely to miss out on the opportunities that STEM related occupations can offer.
The strategy also identified the need to ensure all students acquire core knowledge and skills in STEM and that students aspire to take on more challenging STEM subjects.
The St Patrick’s challenge came in the wake of the Education Council’s STEM strategy and all schools in the Macarthur area were invited to take part.
St Patrick’s says the challenge will be a great opportunity for girls in Years 5 and 6 from primary schools from the entire Macarthur region who have a passion for science, technology, engineering or maths to combine forces and solve the challenges offered in the competition throughout the day.
The girls will take part in a number of challenges that require building, lateral and creative thinking, with points assigned for each task.
“This will be a yearly event and we are already exploring tasks with a greater technology focus,’’ said a school spokesperson.
WHAT: 2016 STEM Challenge;
WHERE: St Patrick’s College for Girls, St Johns Road, Campbelltown;
WHEN: Thursday, October 20 from 9.30am;
CONTACT: Mrs Danielle Grant, Community Engagement Coordinator, phone 0433 007 675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org