Aiming to inspire more students to explore the universe – from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of space – a new STEAM grants competition will use a smart algorithm to provide funds to teachers to put towards more STEAM resources for their classrooms.
The OfficeMax and Winc Grant-Bot Program has been designed to give STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in schools an extra boost by providing grants that will give schools the opportunity to secure extra funding for hands on classroom resources as well as accessing lesson plans and inquiry units on the Cool Australia website.
With many of the jobs of the future requiring problem solving skills, innovative and creative thinking and digital skills, improving STEAM education has generated a great deal of attention. This has brought significant demand for STEAM specialists in Australian primary and secondary schools.
According to Australian Council for Educational Research (Melbourne 2012), only 16 per cent of Year 4 students were taught science by a teacher who specialised or majored in science, and only 20 per cent had a teacher who specialised in mathematics. Further to this, the State of Our Schools 2016 Report revealed that 51 per cent of principals have maths and science classes taught by teachers who are not fully qualified in those specialist areas.
Grant, the smart algorithm behind the OfficeMax and Winc STEAM Grant-Bot Program will select the grant finalists alongside a panel with the program’s ambassadors, Swinburne University astrophysicist Associate Professor Alan Duffy and marine biologist Dr Vanessa Pirotta (pictured) selecting the winners.
“I was fascinated by the world around me growing up, especially the night sky. But it was at school that I learned how to actually understand it all by performing experiments. Ensuring the generation in school today have access to exciting experiments is key for me, as it will teach them not just how to ask questions of the world, but also to gain answers from it,” said Professor Duffy.
Dr Vanessa Pirotta added, “As a young girl I was drawn to the animal section of the library, and by Year 4, science class became my favourite lesson. I loved to explore and ask questions and ultimately this led me to follow my passion and become a scientist. It’s important for young minds to see people in my role, especially for girls. I am thrilled to help teachers navigate STEAM in today’s classroom.”
The STEAM grants competition is now live, with entries closing 12 July 2019. It is open to all Australian school teachers, who can enter by clicking here and explaining why they and their school deserve to win a STEAM grant in 250 words or less.