Why Exploring Science and STEAM is Integral in Schools

Nikki McDonald, Head of Science and Freya Handscomb, Head of STEAM and Innovation

STEAM education is a vital component of the growth of Australia and it is part of a well-rounded education, which we have placed at the forefront of our priorities at Kambala through the notion of ‘The Whole Girl’. “STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths – underpins Australia’s productivity, development, economic growth, innovation, competitiveness and social progress (Office of the Chief Scientist, 2016)”. Research by the Australian Industry Group has found that 75 percent of job roles will require STEAM knowledge and skills, and 82 percent of employers will be looking for STEAM-related skills in the near future. STEAM education is a national priority for the Australian Government which seeks to enhance student engagement, uptake and achievement in these subject areas.

So why is exploring science and STEAM integral in schools and what does it mean for your child’s learning and development? As educators it means we have a duty to develop the skills of critical and design thinking, problem-solving and team building through the context of STEAM.

What does this look like in action?

At Kambala the development and implementation of STEAM has been multifaceted. STEAM started with a joint project between the Science and Mathematics Faculties. This project resulted in the Year 8 Solar Car Challenge, which is still running today in Science lessons. Other projects have since been implemented and include:

  • AnElectrical Wiring in the HomeScience activity for Year 9 students.
  • The annual STEAM Challengefor Year 8 students which alternates between different projects including Bridge Building and Mission to Mars.
  • Clubs for Science, STEAM and Coding from Transition through to Senior School to encourage those who are interested in developing their problem-solving skills.

In addition, Kambala has taken a whole-school approach and developed initiatives to raise the profile of STEAM-related opportunities such as the Women in STEAM forum, which aims to make girls aware of careers they may not have previously given consideration. We have also worked with other departments to integrate STEAM into the fantastic work they are already doing, for example by inviting scientists in to speak in English classes about the ‘real world’ applications of the Science in their Speculative Fiction unit.

To celebrate Science Week, Kambala’s skilled Kambala Science and STEAM teachers have organised activities for students to experience On Monday students were invited at lunchtime to experience a bug tasting – various preparations of insects cooked into foods like pudding and sausages. The School also hosted guest speakers, who addressed the students on a multitude of topics from various fields. This year, we were privileged to host science experts from TESLA, the UNSW School of Biology and Environmental Science and the CEO of World Vision. Other activities included a screening of the film The Martian, a liquid nitrogen reaction demonstration, and concluded with the celebration of jeans for genes day.

How can you develop your child’s interest in STEAM and support this at home? STEAM activities don’t have to be expensive or time consuming! You can support your child by encouraging them to solve problems for themselves, embedding resilience and a desire to learn. Here are some fun links to activities you could try at home. For younger minds and for older minds.

Science Week 2019: Tesla guest speaker teaching students about innovative solutions to sustainability

About the Authors

Nikki is the Head of Science at Kambala. She is responsible for the development and implementation of Science teaching in Years 7 to 12.

Freya is the Head of STEAM and Innovation at Kambala. She is responsible for the development and implementation of the STEAM program and initiatives throughout the Junior and Senior School.