STEM: What is it?

A School of Education seminar presented onMarch 22nd, 2017 by Dr Rob Whannell

There has been much debate about the falling enrolments for a number of years in Australian secondary and tertiary level mathematics and science programs.  A large level of funding has been provided, particularly through the Office of Australia’s Chief Scientist, in an attempt to address the issue.  One approach that has arisen out of the situation is the move towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.  The move towards STEM education, as a different approach to that which has been traditionally seen in the sub-disciplines, is currently being enacted within primary and secondary school systems throughout Australia.  There is some question, though, whether what is being done is appropriate, whether there exists a sufficient evidence base to support the process, and whether the outcomes from the approach justify the exercise.  An associated challenge at the tertiary level is that many institutions, including UNE, have not engaged with the STEM agenda to any extent and may be ill equipped to prepare pre-service teachers to work within such an integrated pedagogic framework.
This activity-based seminar will provide the opportunity for members of the School of Education at UNE to ponder several questions associated with the STEM agenda, including:
·      What is meant by STEM education, or should that be STEAM, or is the use of an acronym even appropriate?
·      What opportunities are available at UNE to engage with the STEM agenda (for want of a better term)?
·      What should the School of Education at UNE be providing to pre-service teachers to prepare them to engage successfully with an integrated approach to curriculum delivery?
·       What research within the School of Education at UNE needs to be pursued to support UNE efforts in the area?