Where does STEM fit into the Victorian Curriculum F-10?
STEM refers to the learning areas of Science, Design and Technologies including Engineering as a context, Digital Technologies and Mathematics. STEM in the Victorian Curriculum F-10 is an approach to teaching and learning that integrates some of the content and skills of Science, Design and Technologies including Engineering, Digital Technologies and Mathematics. Teaching of STEM in the Victorian Curriculum F-10 refers to how some content from these learning areas may be taught together in an interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary manner.
What is STEM education?
STEM education is a curriculum approach where the learning areas of Science, Technologies (Design and Technologies including the context of Engineering and Digital Technologies) and Mathematics are integrated. That is, often these subjects are taught in isolation from one another whereas STEM education aims to bring them together in an interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary manner. This approach also allows skills such as critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication to be deployed in a rich and authentic manner.
What are the features of the STEM learning sequences developed for the Victorian Curriculum F-10?
In the Victorian Curriculum F-10, a STEM learning sequence involves the explicit teaching and assessment of content and skills located in Science, Technologies and Mathematics. To ensure effective STEM curriculum integration, at least two of the learning areas and at least one process, such as through the Science Inquiry Skills (Science) or Creating Digital Solutions (Design and Technologies) sub-strands should be included. Incorporating an inquiry process allows STEM units to be constructed around a problem/opportunity/challenge/need/situation where students can derive a solution (product/environment/service). Overall, the learning experience for students should be relevant and rigorous, and increase student's interest in STEM-related fields.
Can STEM be implemented in my school?
Victorian Curriculum F–10: Revised curriculum planning and reporting guidelines provide advice for Victorian schools on developing whole-school curriculum plans and reporting student learning achievement based on the Victorian Curriculum F–10. There are many key points made in these Guidelines, including that schools have flexibility in the development of teaching and learning programs to reflect decisions, resources, expertise and priorities of the school. Therefore, if STEM education is an area that is identified as a priority, schools can structure teaching and learning programs and timetables that facilitate effective implementation. Whatever the mode of delivery of a STEM program, schools should be able to demonstrate how the teaching and learning program includes the content of the relevant curriculum areas. Schools should develop and publish a whole-school curriculum plan that documents its teaching and learning program.
How do you teach STEM in secondary schools?
The segregated teaching structures that secondary schools employ (timetables, discrete subjects, separate physical spaces such as classrooms, science laboratories and technology workshops) can often seem oppositional to the idea of teaching STEM, but there are a number of ways in which teachers, both as individuals and in teams, can facilitate STEM learning for their students. Some examples include:
- A Mathematics teacher incorporating explicit teaching of content from both Science and Design and Technologies into a unit
- A Science teacher incorporating explicit teaching of content from both Mathematics and Digital Technologies into a unit
- A Design and Technologies teacher incorporating explicit teaching of content from both Mathematics and Science into a unit
- The Mathematics faculty within a school creating a common unit incorporating Science and Digital Technologies
- The Science faculty within a school creating a common unit incorporating Mathematics and Design and Technologies
- The Design and Technologies faculty within a school creating a common unit incorporating Mathematics and Science
- An interdisciplinary unit taught in Mathematics and Science classes, with support from a Design and Technologies teacher
- An interdisciplinary unit taught in Mathematics, Science and Design and Technologies classes
- The creation of a separate STEM subject which replaces, or is additional to, discrete Mathematics, Science, Design and Technologies or Digital Technologies classes.
Does a STEM task have to involve Digital Technologies?
STEM is an approach to teaching the Victorian Curriculum F-10. It is a school-based decision how the curriculum will be taught. A school may decide to teach Digital Technologies (or some strands) as part of STEM or it may decide to teach Digital Technologies as a standalone subject – there is no 'one size fits all' approach.
While Digital Technologies is part of STEM (under Technologies), a STEM task does not have to include Digital Technologies to be classified as STEM. STEM in the Victorian Curriculum F-10 includes the explicit teaching of at least two of the following learning areas: Science, Design and Technologies, Digital Technologies and Mathematics.
How can I get my students engaged in STEM when they are hesitant to design, construct or problem solve because they don't want to fail?
Learning from success and failure is an important part of STEM. Trial and error is an element of the problem-solving process, as repeated and modified attempts are made during the learning process. It is an integral part of the Creating Designed Solutions process in the Design and Technologies learning area. We need to teach students how to evaluate their design solutions to determine the quality of their solution, how effective it is and what they could do to develop their designed solution further. Opportunities to test designed solutions or prototypes is important for students to develop their skills in evaluation and to communicate their observations and ideas with others. Also scientific investigations, which occur in the Science Inquiry Skills strand, are activities in which ideas, predictions or hypotheses are tested and conclusions are drawn in response to a question or problem. Teaching students the importance of failure can help them see it as a valuable part of the learning process when conducting investigations that include experimental testing.