STEM is an acronym for the words Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. At Blackfriars, we recognise a deeper meaning of STEM and understand the big picture when implementing it into our curriculum. Engineering is the heart of STEM, which we have adapted as a framework for the style of learning that students at Blackfriars are exposed to when completing STEM tasks. Students experience tasks which require them to use their creativity to solve real world problems, whilst drawing on their knowledge from art and design to simulate the work of an engineer. As the students work on a solution, they apply knowledge from Science, Mathematics, Technology, and any other relevant learning areas when appropriate.
STEM is more about the style of learning at Blackfriars, as we are open minded about including as many appropriate real world cross curricular links as possible. Some curriculum tasks include: designing and optimising small model cars; bridge building; creating and maintaining a garden; programming robots to collect objects; coding a traffic light sequence; creating and racing small solar cars; and many more. Within the curriculum at Blackfriars, students from the ELC to year 10 complete and are assessed on at least two STEM projects per year.
The following 21st century learning styles are utilised within our STEM program:
Blackfriars offers STEM as a part of the co-curricular program. In 2016, the students who joined the program were a part of the LEGO Junior Robocup, which we attended for the second year in a row. The competition teams, selected from the junior and senior co-curricular LEGO robotics students were successful, taking first place in both the soccer and rescue competitions.
Blackfriars has built a close partnership built with the non-for-profit company concept2creation. concept2creation looks to encourage students to undertake careers in STEM by providing real world challenges with industry links. Students have access to professionals in their fields of interest who they can discuss their various strategies and solutions with. Blackfriars were involved in the drone challenge and the senior automotive challenges this year. The students were required to modify a drone to survey damage on power lines, and report back on their findings. Likewise, students involved in the automotive project were required to redesign a Scalextric car in order that it could be assembled, raced and disassembled as efficiently as possible, whilst considering weight reduction to improve speed. Both teams were required to produce interim and final technical reports, design a visual display to be showcased at an expo, and the drone team also presented their project in a speech. Blackfriars were successful in both of these respective competitions, and was first place in the drone and the automotive challenges.