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Teaching resources

Units of work

Foundation level to Level 2

Robot basics

This learning sequence is aimed at Levels F–2 and addresses content from Digital Technologies and Mathematics. The learning sequence explains how to teach basic directional language using a simple robot, and provides opportunities for students to design a simple sequence of steps (algorithm) to program a robot which will solve the problem.  Approx. delivery time: 3 x 1 hour sessions.  

Three Little Pigs design challenge

This learning sequence is aimed at Levels F–2 addresses content from Design and Technologies and Science. The learning sequence explains how to use the story of the Three Little Pigs to help teach students to investigate characteristics and properties of materials and their suitability to construct shelters. It also enables the teaching of how to pose questions, make predictions and perform simple observations of investigations. Approx. delivery time: 5.5 hours

Levels 3 and 4 

Creating nesting boxes

This learning sequence is aimed at Levels 3–4 and addresses content from Design and Technologies, Science and Mathematics. The learning sequence explains how to teach design processes to students, who are asked to create environments to meet the needs of Australian animals. Approx. delivery time: 8 x 1 hour sessions.

Design a robot chariot

This learning sequence is designed for Levels 3–4 and addresses content from the Design and Technologies, Digital Technologies and Mathematics curriculums. The learning sequence explains how to teach the design processes to create a chariot and program a Sphero robot to compete in a race.  Approx. delivery time: 10 hours.

Levels 7 and 8 

Film Canister Rockets 

This learning sequence is aimed at Levels 7 and 8 and addresses content from Design and Technologies, Mathematics and Science. The learning sequence explains how to teach students to investigate the best shape for fins when designing film canister rockets, and how to plan fair experiments, using chemical reactions, to test their film canister rockets. Approx. delivery time: 20 x 1 hour sessions.

External resources

The inclusion of the following links are for teacher reference purposes and do not constitute VCAA endorsement of the views and/or materials contained on these sites. Teachers are advised to ensure that these resources link to the Victorian Curriculum F–10.

The STEM programme index 2016 offers over 250 programmes, catering to hundreds of schools and many thousands of students across the countryAustralia's Science Collection–Education

Australia's Science Collection–Education is a free platform for Australian educators providing a regularly-updated feed of videos, articles and resources to support the teaching of STEM education, mapped to the Australian Curriculum.

ABC Education brings together educational content to use at home and in the classroom. Its resources are free and mapped to the Australian Curriculum, covering Mathematics, Science and Technologies, including STEM.

DigiPubs are digital publications which provide practical advice and resources for using Information and Communication Technology across the curriculum including the learning areas of Science, Design and Technologies, Digital Technologies and Mathematics and supports teaching practice.

FUSE is a Victorian Department of Education and Training digital repository and sharing space. It contains website, images, video, audio, interactives, documents and other rich media types with all resources tagged according to the Victorian Curriculum F–10 curriculum areas and related content descriptions, cross curricular priorities and levels. There are numerous resources available to support STEM education.

The GiST  provides resources to inspire and inform girls, shcools and families in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Explore activities, resources, case studies , lessons, study pathways and careers.

The VicSTEM  website has been developed by the Victorian Department of Education and Training to support the Department's STEM in the Education State plan. It brings together current actions, resources and networks that will help educational institutions, educators and the wider community to deliver the vision for improved learning and outcomes in STEM. A one-stop shop for all things science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related.

The STARportal is a searchable database that provides access to a centralised national portal for a range of local and online STEM activities from around Australia.

STEM Australia is a combination of various Australian organisations who promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Australia. There is a focus on STEM-related careers and pathways.

Additional STEM reading

A list of useful readings about STEM and STEM education are provided below. For each reading, there is a link to the document and a summary of the key points raised.

VicSTEM: STEM in the Education State, Department of Education and Training, Melbourne September 2016

STEM in the Education State outlines the position and priorities for STEM within the wider framework of the Victorian Government's Education State initiative. STEM is identified as a critical component of these reforms and is seen as vital for the long-term success of Victorian students and workers. This is due in large part to the shift towards a knowledge-based economy and the desire from industry for employees equipped with critical and creative thinking and problem-solving skills. The report identifies strategies already underway, as well as short- and long-term aims, including investments and specific goals for numeracy, science literacy and critical thinking capabilities.

Excellence in STEM education is aligned to the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes and includes teacher capacity and capability to develop high quality, real-world STEM programs. Students will find these programs engaging and inspiring, leading many to pursue STEM both further in school and in their future careers. The report acknowledges the need for long-term support for STEM and identifies strategies from early learning environments to the tertiary sector to achieve the Education State goals.

National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026, Education Council, December 2015

The National STEM School Education Strategy builds on the goals of the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) and seeks to outline a vision for STEM in Australian schools for 2016–26. The strategy aims to build on work already underway around Australia and act as a tool for increasing focus and collaboration. It identifies two key goals for STEM in Australia:

  • Ensure all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills.
  • Ensure that students are inspired to take on more challenging STEM subjects.

Underlying these goals, five areas for system-wide action are outlined, including increasing engagement and participation in STEM, developing teacher confidence and capacity and coordinating partnerships with tertiary education and industry. At a school level, the strategy provides seven guiding principles for those looking to effectively implement STEM in their contexts. These begin with creating a culture where STEM is valued across a whole school and where teachers prioritise STEM professional learning. This allows the development of a teaching and learning program that is engaging, embedded in the real world and exposes students to diverse STEM opportunities.

National Innovation and Science Agenda Report, Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2015

This report  outlines the Australian Government's agenda to drive innovation, science and growth in Australia's economy. The report highlights the increasingly rapid pace of change in society and the important challenges and opportunities associated with developing and changing technologies. The ability to innovate is identified as critical to driving future growth in the economy. Four key focus areas for action are identified by the report:

  1. Culture and capital
  2. Collaboration
  3. Talent and skills
  4. Government as an exemplar

Australia's strong economic position, as well as access to Asian markets and a high-quality research culture are identified as strengths, while difficulty of access to early-stage capital and the lowest level of industry-university collaboration in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development are seen as key obstacles to innovation.

Within each of the four key areas, a number of policy proposals and strategies are identified to help drive innovation. These include the creation of funds to support the commercialisation of new ideas, increasing funding for industry-university research partnerships, tax breaks and changes to bankruptcy laws to support risk-taking, and a focus on initiatives to drive engagement of school students and women in STEM-related careers.

STEM skills in the workforce: What do employers want?, Prinsley & Baranyai, 2015, Office of the Chief Scientist

In 2013, the Office of the Chief Scientist commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to complete a survey of Australian employers about their perceptions of, and needs around, STEM-qualified employees. Between 2006 and 2011, growth in STEM-related employment increased at a higher rate than other professions, a trend employers expect to continue. The report finds a significant need for STEM-qualified employees across most sectors, even when qualifications in STEM are not a direct prerequisite for employment in a role. STEM employees are consistently rated as among the most innovative by employers and are generally considered more proficient in a range of key skills needed by employers, including 'on the job' learning, problem solving and "critical and design thinking" approaches. Employers identified significant challenges in finding and hiring suitably experienced and STEM-qualified employees, indicating a disconnect between industry needs and current output of STEM graduates. Employers identified work experience/placements as valuable for potential employees, but many do not offer such structured placements to students.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia's future, Office of the Chief Scientist, 2014

This report from the Office of the Chief Scientist outlines the strategic focus for STEM in Australia. It identifies developing Australia's STEM capabilities as the crucial element in ensuring our economy remains strong and competitive. STEM and its links to innovation have been crucial to the growth of Australian businesses and this will continue into the future. The report states that STEM does not operate in isolation and that it must be embedded in broader social contexts. A number of challenges to innovation and STEM in Australia are identified, including a lack of coordination of initiatives, complacency around research output/culture, and misunderstanding of science and its potential. Four strategic focus areas are identified and recommendations under each are provided to support STEM in Australia. These focus areas are:

  1. Australian competitiveness
  2. Education and training
  3. Research
  4. International engagement

Recommendations to support these areas include the need for clear national priorities, support for greater research translation, research-industry collaboration and supporting educators to develop STEM knowledge and teaching skills. The report also recommends the development of an Asian-Area Research Zone to support international collaboration with Australia.

Transforming STEM Teaching, Prinsley & Johnston, 2015, Office of the Chief Scientist

This report identifies STEM teaching in primary schools as an area of significant need and opportunity. In particular, the skills and knowledge of teachers is identified as being key to the delivery of high quality STEM programs in this setting. Currently, many primary teachers feel unprepared for teaching in STEM areas. This needs to be remedied both in the short- and long-term. A three-pronged approach is proposed:

  1. Raise the prestige and preparedness of teachers
  2. Transform STEM education in primary schools
  3. Think bold, collaborate and lead change

A variety of strategies are proposed, including the development of minimum standards for science, mathematics and technology in pre-service teaching courses, incentives for STEM graduates to enter primary teaching and the development of a national professional development framework to support primary teachers' STEM learning. A national principal development program, designed to create leaders who are strong supporters of STEM in their schools, is also proposed. Finally, the report recommends the development of a national taskforce, reporting to the Council of Australian Governments, to oversee this process.

Other organisations

Australia's digital pulse, Deloitte Access Economics, 2015

Australia's Digital Pulse is an annual report commissioned by the Australian Computer Society. The 2015 report focuses on the need for Australia to develop digital skills, jobs and education to meet developing ICT needs. The report identifies current levels of ICT employment in Australia, including the significant underrepresentation of women in ICT areas, highlights the contribution of ICT-related work to the national economy and explores data related to education and skills shortages in Australia. The report highlights that the majority of ICT workers no longer work in ICT-specific fields, highlighting the broadening use of ICT and the need for associated skills across the workforce. However, the pipeline of ICT-qualified workers in Australia is insufficient, leading to a net import of workers from overseas to meet skill shortages. Forecasts indicate that this need for ICT workers will grow at higher rates than the average for other areas and Australia must therefore work to create more workers with high-level ICT and computing skills. A number of recommendations are made to support this aim, including the continued, fast-tracked development and implementation of digital curriculum in schools, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, upskilling of current workers across industries, support for women in ICT and the development of programs in higher education to meet skills shortages.

A smart move: Future-proofing Australia's workforce by growing skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), 2015. Pricewaterhouse Coopers

The Pricewaterhouse Coopers' A Smart Move report focuses on the need to use STEM to develop an Australian workforce that is a world-leader in innovation. The report highlights the need for Australia to find new ways to grow the economy post-mining boom and in the wake of the financial crisis early this century. A lack of action to develop this STEM-skilled workforce will lead to shortages in qualified employees for businesses and could have wide-ranging social implications. Digital disruption is argued to be a major risk to sections of the economy and workforce, through technologies such as machine learning and 3D-printing. 44% of all Australian jobs are identified as 'high risk' for being affected by automation or technology changes in the next 20 years. Jobs involving a high level of social intelligence, technical ability and creative intelligence are identified as those at the lowest risk of such automation. STEM education and skills are the crucial component in developing an innovative workforce and the report highlights the link in world-leading countries between their commitment to STEM education and their capacity to innovate. The role of business is seen as crucial to this process, with the report identifying a number of methods for STEM capacity to be developed by industry, including through links to education.

Progressing STEM skills in Australia, The Australian Industry Group, 2015

Progressing STEM skills in Australia identifies potential challenges and recommendations to support STEM in Australia. International research has identified that 75% of the fastest growing jobs worldwide require STEM skills or qualifications and STEM-related jobs in Australia are growing at 1.5 times the rate of other fields. However, Australia is underperforming in STEM relative to 'STEM-strong' countries, as indicated by stagnant or decreasing results on international benchmark testing and decreases in the number of tertiary STEM graduates (despite increases in overall graduate numbers). This data factors in the problems seen in a variety of industries with recruitment of STEM-qualified employees. 'STEM-strong' countries have identified a clear vision for STEM, support teachers as a high status profession, actively reform their curriculum and/or pedagogy to drive engagement and have developed interventions to support participation of underrepresented groups. The report makes a number of recommendations to help Australia become 'STEM-strong', including developing a national strategy or vision, increased coordination of school-industry and tertiary-industry partnerships, more strategic government spending and the invigoration of curriculum to promote greater engagement of students in STEM.

STEM: Beyond the acronym, Vasquez, J.A, Educational Leadership, 72:4, 10-15

Please note: this report sits behind a paywall, and cannot be directly linked.

Confusion around the meaning and purpose of STEM has abounded since the acronym was first introduced in the 1990s. Ultimately, STEM is a 'meta-discipline' that combines the distinct subject areas into a coherent whole. STEM education is not a distinct curriculum, but an approach to pedagogy and instruction that aims to break down barriers between disciplines to create authentic learning experiences for students. STEM education can be implemented in a number of ways and will not always include all four disciplines, nor does it always need to be problem-based. Rather, all STEM programs need to provide students with the opportunity to authentically apply what they have learned or are in the process of learning. The level of integration of STEM is described as an 'inclined plane' moving from stand-alone disciplinary teaching to fully-integrated trans-disciplinary models. Regardless of the level of integration, planning for STEM education must start with the desired learning outcomes of the students and the program design unfolding from these outcomes. Creating integrated STEM education is a challenging exercise, requiring considerable collaboration that can be confronting professionally, but is associated with positives for both teachers and students.