Jared Wilkins, Senior Manager Learning Programs, Questacon

Questacon’s mandate is to inspire and engage all Australians in science and technology. Our reason for collaborating in the STEM X Academy is to upskill Australia’s STEM capability for the future. Underpinning our involvement is Australia’s shift from a manufacturing and resource-driven economy to one based on innovation and entrepreneurship. This shift will require a greater focus on job creation, not only in STEM industries, but also in all industries as STEM principles drive innovation and entrepreneurship.

Among the people who deliver these critical messages and illuminate STEM-based opportunities for the next generation are teachers.

Our engagement with the STEM X Academy is built around three big ideas. We want to help teachers acquire the skills to develop their own inquiry-based activities for their classrooms. We want to draw out links between inquiry-based activities and real-world STEM research. And we want to create a network among STEM X alumni so that they continue to share resources, ideas and inspiration.

The experiences teachers receive need to be authentic, relevant to their lives and have a hands-on accessibility. To that end, Questacon helps to identify real R&D endeavours where teachers can interact directly in the discovery process. In Questacon’s Maker Space, teachers are able to experience the importance of the innovation process as a pedagogy.

The ability to think critically, solve complex problems, collaborate and communicate effectively are core principles not only to the innovation process but also to STEM. There is no separation of subject areas, no full stop between the letters, in STEM.

Through STEM X, we are inspiring teachers to use STEM’s underlining core principles to bring a new creativity and curiosity, in both their teaching, and in the way students solve problems and view the future.

The model is extremely effective and we are seeing changes in classroom practices. STEM X alumni are changing their classroom activities to become hands-on, inquiry-based activities. They are part of a national network that shares resources and experiences and provides encouragement and support.

An inspired teacher will result in inspired students. And a bit of inspiration can go a long way.