STEM and STEAM
Over the past four years the College has made a concerted effort to expose our students to a wide range of STEM related activities. In 2017 we partnered with Sydney University’s STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy and this provided great momentum for the projects that are currently running in the College.
The UNSW Sunsprint Challenge is one of our major co-curricular STEM activities. The Sunsprint Challenge is run by the Photovoltaic School at UNSW. The event always coincides with the Open Day held at the start of September each year. The Challenge has a long history with schools across all educational systems taking part. Sunsprint is a classic STEM project. Students work in teams to design and build a model solar car based on a set of guidelines outlined by the national body. Our Sunsprint blog has all the information about our participation over the past two years.
In 2020 our teams will be better prepared being able to draw on their experience last year to create a faster, more dynamic design. The addition of a laser cutter to the College resources will ensure we are able to build competitive cars. Visit the UNSW Sunsprint site for further information on the project.
Another of our initiatives this year is to continue the relationship with Engineers Without Borders. St Clare’s students have worked with EWB since 2016 and we are continuing this relationship in 2020. EWB help students see some of the real challenges facing developing nations. Through STEM, students work to create solutions to these challenges guided by engineering students from UNSW. Being involved in EWB allows students to see clear pathways to a future in engineering at UNSW. It is a wonderful example of authentic learning in action.
In Term 3 students are invited to participate in the National Computer Science School Challenge. The Challenge is designed to teach students to code while they try to solve problems. It is an initiative by Grok Learning (Sydney University’s education start up) and is supported by some of the major tech companies like Google and Atlassian. In 2018 we had nearly fifty students involved in the Challenge and in 2019 more than one hundred students took part with many achieving a perfect score.
In 2020 Grok initiated an introductory NCSS Challenge in Term One and it was wonderful to see a number of our younger students participate. We are looking forward to continued growth in the number of students taking on the official NCSS Challenge in July of this year as well as Code Quest which runs in Term Four.
The Coding Club introduced in 2017 is again taking place in 2020. In 2018 we participated in an exciting project with Apple and the Coder Academy. This was part of a pilot project Apple ran to promote coding in schools. The project was based around the Swift Playground language and had a focus on app development in iOS. Nine students across Years 7 to 11 took place in the App Developer course which was very challenging in that it involved both coding and app development software. All girls involved in the program were grateful for the opportunity to develop some amazing skills.
In 2020 we are again looking to provide our students with new and exciting experiences. In 2019 we partnered with STEAM Punk Girls from the University of Technology to create a project based unit for our 8.1 class in Term One. The driving question for this project was, ‘How can we survive a drought?’. Following the success of this project it was implemented across all Year 8 classes in Term One.
In 2019 our Year 7 Newman class took on a STEM project involving Space in Term Two. Again due to the success of this project we will be rolling this out to all Year 7 classes in 2020.
We are looking forward to the delivery of our second beehive in October this year. This is the culmination of the STEM project completed by all Year 7 students in the final term of 2019. There will be a slight change to this project in 2020 in that the focus will not be on the native stingless bees. Further details will be revealed later in the year.
These are just a few of the learning opportunities that will be available to our students in 2020. You will be able to keep up to date with what is happening on our Authentic Learning blog throughout the year.