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Engaging our students in STEM

14/04/2016

Engaging our students in STEM

The task of educators is to prepare students to be active, engaged citizens empowered to contribute to the improvement of our world. Over the last seven years the work of the Gladstone Central State School has been to develop within our students the skills to embrace both the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century. Yet we are only just beginning to understand the future that our children will live in. One certainty that we can truly count on is that change will be a constant and that our students will need to develop skills of resilience, adaptability and collaboration.
The other certainty that we can count on is the importance of technology in the 21st century world. We have already seen a revolution in the nature of knowledge and access to information. The occupations of the future, some of which we cannot even begin to imagine, will require the problem solving skills that are deeply embedded within what has become known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Throughout the last seven years, Gladstone Central has been working on a range of projects to increase our student’s engagement, involvement and achievement in the STEM areas. These initiatives have ranged from building robots to students spending time learning coding. We have liaised with UQ, QUT, Macquarie and Swinburne Universities on a range of projects to develop the skills of our teachers and that of our students.
Our student regularly work on robotic challenges, coding problems and design tasks to deepen their knowledge of the STEM areas. This year  we take this further with 48 of our students working with Swinburne University on a coding project which involves hands on activities and a robot called NAO.
NAO is a little character with a unique combination of hardware and software: it consists of sensors, motors and software driven by a dedicated operating system. NAO gets its magic from its programming and animation. The NAO robotics day is designed to deepen students’ knowledge of programming with motion and sonar sensors, voice recognition and sound and vision tracking through hands-on practical activities which will bring the NAO robot to life.
Another initiative that we will introduce this year is Innovation Week, a week of STEM based activities which will take place during Term 2. During this week we will be inviting our community to an evening of inspiration listening to those who work in STEM fields talk about their careers. We hope that our students will be both inspired and challenged by our speakers.
If you feel that you have something to offer our Innovation Week initiative please do not hesitate to contact me.