Building STEAM: Getting junior girls future-ready

05 February 2018

A Drone Academy, robotics competitions and 3D printing sound like activities you might find in a university science lab. But at St Hilda’s School, these futuristic endeavours have become a regular part of curricular life, delivering outstanding results for girls’ learning and development.

Planning for the future with STEAM

With advances in technology re-shaping all industries, leading schools around the world have turned their attention to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, or ‘STEAM’ subjects, as a critical foundation for every student’s future.

As the only all-girls school on the Gold Coast, St Hilda’s School is leading the charge and planning for the future with girls aged 8-12 learning to code robots, design arcade games and create laser-cut jewellery – all part of a school-wide STEAM program that places girls firmly at the controls.

The demand for STEAM subjects and resources has increased significantly over the past few years, as teachers recognise the importance of bringing creative thinking and visual learning into the classroom. While Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are an age-old combination, it’s the incorporation of Arts into the mix that fosters innovation and allows learning through entertainment.

St Hilda’s School is ensuring students are given inspiring learning opportunities as early as possible, to explore and develop their interests and capability in STEAM subjects. And in 2017, STEAM became a timetabled, compulsory subject for Junior School students, with powerful results.

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The sky’s the limit

Every semester, St Hilda’s School offers 20 STEAM projects, each involving 14 weeks of work. Students from Years 3-6 choose which projects they are involved in and work with a group of girls across different year levels to achieve objectives. The range of projects available includes designing and creating laser-cut jewellery, composing musical scores for animated movies, coding robots in French, designing and creating arcade games, making soap, product development and entrepreneurialism, sustainable initiatives, edible gardens and composting, Rube Goldberg machines, and digital media.

The program continues this year, with a brand-new dedicated Junior School STEAM building to boot. The building’s flexible learning space is the base for the Junior School Drone Academy. It is also used as a venue for events such as The Tribot Cup - a coding and robotics competition with St Hilda’s brother school, The Southport School (TSS) - as well as various STEAM-related workshops offered to students by external providers. There is a room for 3D printing and laser cutting, and storerooms for various robotics and technologies equipment.

Mrs Tracey Maynard, St Hilda’s Head of Junior School, said the unique, rigorous approach is a core part of promoting the role of women in STEAM-related industries.

“We understand the roles of women in this rapidly-growing, future-based industry are still under-represented, which is why we strive to provide our girls with rich, meaningful and challenging STEAM-based experiences.”

“Innovation is embedded throughout the St. Hilda’s culture, campus and curriculum, with the school internationally recognised as an early adopter of technology in education. We endeavour to inspire our girls to become not only participants in the future of STEAM-based industries but leaders,” Mrs Maynard said.

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Learning through innovation

Mr Daniel Martinez is the Coordinator of Innovation in St Hilda’s Junior School and was instrumental in the development of the STEAM program. He has been recognised as an Apple Distinguished Educator for transforming learning with innovative uses of Apple products and said the digital technology could make a difference not only in education but in the lives and futures of students.

“At St Hilda’s School, we harness and utilise our extensive digital technology resources to engage, inspire and challenge our students,” he said.

Mr Martinez, who also teaches Year 5, said the school’s teachers work alongside students to make their STEAM project dreams become a reality, allowing girls to lead and drive the task to completion.

“Teachers encourage, question, motivate and assist our girls throughout the entire process. This encourages students to develop autonomy, critical thinking and resilience; laying the foundational skills and attitudes such as collaboration, communication, creativity and problem-solving skills that are required for future-based industries.”

The exploration of links between the STEAM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics provides students with a strong foundation in real-life, problem-based learning.

“Taking up large and timely challenges allows our students to understand how to project manage their time, efforts and resources to ensure their project is successful,” Mr Martinez said.

“Not only do students learn to work effectively together, but they also develop leadership experience and build unique friendships along the way.”

The culmination of the program is the STEAMfair, where parents and students can view, sample and experience the final products of the students’ projects.

To learn more about St Hilda’s STEAM program, the school is hosting guided tours of the STEAM building and facilities at its Junior School Open Day on Friday 23 February 2018. Register now to confirm your place.

For more information, visit http://www.sthildas.qld.edu.au.

St Hilda’s School
Junior School Open Day

23 February 2018 

Register now

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City

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