STEM teaching resilience, teamwork in the Junior School

18 June 2020

Whether they’re 3D-printing French monuments, programming safes or coding computer games, girls in the Junior School continue to make strides in STEM.

Mrs Elizabeth Betbeder, Dean of Inquiry Learning, said the Junior School curriculum embeds Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics into the students’ everyday learning.

“The girls are going from strength to strength in their STEM projects and, in addition to the technical skills they are mastering, are also learning crucial lateral thinking, problem-solving and interpersonal skills, which are required when working on challenging long-term projects that are open-ended in the sense that they may have multiple functional solutions,” she said.

“Across all learning stages, the Junior School students have experienced growth in these areas and particularly in their display of resilience. In order to solve the problems they face, the girls must try different approaches. Some of those approaches will fail or need modification and the students are learning to identify weaknesses in their builds and persist in finding new solutions to make things work. This ability to reflect on their own learning and continue to grow is invaluable and will serve them in all their endeavours at school and beyond.”

This term, Year 2 students have been using engineering processes and technologies to solve a modern environmental challenge. They are designing a rubbish collector that can be attached to a BeeBot Robot; they then program the BeeBot to sweep the street. The task requires them to utilise their technical skills but also their evaluative, problem-solving and cooperative skills to complete the challenge.

Year 3 students are learning the coding language, Scratch, for the first time. They began this work while the School was in online learning mode and have continued to build on these skills since their return to their classrooms.

Years 5 and 6 students are, among other projects, coding a game that teaches and tests the player’s knowledge in two subject areas: Australian History and Chemistry. This unit is part of the new Digital Technologies syllabus. Additionally, students in Year 6 are incorporating STEM into their French lessons by utilising the School’s 3D printer to create replicas of Paris landmarks as part of their research into French culture.

Year 6 students Ashley Chan and Ella Zhang were building a safe. This week, they were working together on coding the locking mechanism.

“What I really like about STEM is that there are so many projects that we can work on and it’s a lot of fun to apply our coding knowledge in different ways,” Ashley said.

“I like that there is some trial and error involved in the process of developing STEM projects and there is never just one solution to a problem, you just need to find the solution that best fits your problem,” Ella said.