The STEAM program preparing junior girls for the future

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.

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. Girls aged 8-12 are learning to code robots, design arcade games and create laser-cut jewellery. This is 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. And teachers recognise the importance of bringing creative thinking and visual learning into the classroom. Though Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are an age-old combination, incorporating the Arts into the mix fosters innovation and allows learning through entertainment.

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

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 a project to be involved in and work with a group of girls across different year levels to achieve objectives. Projects include:

  • 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
  • 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. The space also hosts The Tribot Cup (a coding and robotics competition with St Hilda’s brother school, The Southport School), as well as various other STEAM-related workshops. 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 women are still under-represented in this rapidly-growing, future-based industry. This 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.

Learning through innovation

Mr Daniel Martinez is the Coordinator of Innovation in St Hilda’s Junior School. He 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.

“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, explained the 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.

“Students learn to work effectively together, develop leadership experience and build unique friendships along the way.”

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

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


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