Stem Education in Primary Classrooms: Unravelling Contemporary Approaches in Australia and New Zealand 9780367229351, 9780367229368, 9780429277689

If you were to peer into a primary school classroom somewhere across Australia and New Zealand, you would be forgiven fo

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Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
List of figures and tables
List of contributors
1 More than coding: positioning STEM education in policy and practice
2 Engaging diverse students in STEM: the five dimensions framework
3 Inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM
4 Learning mathematics through STEM in a play-based classroom
5 A case study of a university-industry STEM partnership in regional Queensland
6 Online citizen science in the classroom: engaging with real science and STEM to develop capabilities for citizenship
7 School—university partnerships as rich STEM learning contexts for pre-service teachers working with primary students
8 What do primary teachers think about STEM education? Exploring cross-cultural perspectives
9 The role of the Maker Faire in STEM engagement: messages for teacher professional development
10 More than STEM: connecting students' learning to community through eco-justice
11 Informal spaces for STEM learning and teaching: STEM clubs
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Congratulations to the authors and editors for creating an accessible and researchinformed account of why we must and how we can implement an integrated approach to STEM education for primary school students.The various examples and case studies richly illustrate how we can embed interdisciplinary problem-solving tasks by using authentic contexts and inquiry pedagogies into the curriculum and develop the capabilities required for living and working in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Emeritus Professor Mark Hackling, Edith Cowan University What does the future hold? Whatever direction it takes, it is a sure bet that science, technology, engineering and mathematics will play a critical role. Citizens will have to decide what is acceptable, useful and benefcial and what is not. STEM education is the key to wise choices, and starting early to prepare all Australians and New Zealanders with the capacity to make those choices is critical.This is a great book that has deep analytical insights from practitioners and researchers and shows us the way. Let’s go. Emeritus Professor Ian Chubb, former chief scientist of Australia,AC FAA FTSE This book is distinctive in highlighting how science education can be a generative starting point for STEM education in primary school settings. The chapters offer rich examples of this through a focus on pedagogy, partnerships, professional development and possibilities. I strongly recommend the book to teachers and researchers – they will fnd much to pique their interest and support their thinking. Professor Bronwen Cowie, associate dean Research, Education Division,The University of Waikato, New Zealand


If you were to peer into a primary school classroom somewhere across Australia and New Zealand, you would be forgiven for thinking that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is synonymous with coding and digital technologies. However, while these aspects are important, technology alone does not refect the broad learning opportunities afforded by STEM. In countering this narrow approach, STEM Education in Primary Classrooms offers a platform for research that innovates, excites and challenges the status quo. It provides educators with innovative and up-to-date research into how to meaningfully and authentically embed STEM into existing classroom practices. It incorporates accurate explanations of STEM as an integrated approach to solving real-world problems, including social issues, along with case studies and stories to bring practice to life in evidence-informed ways. This book showcases the impact of a broader approach to STEM in the primary classroom through Australian-based and New Zealand-based research that will challenge current teaching practices.Thus, this book will be of interest to pre- and in-service primary school teachers, along with researchers and postgraduate students in the STEM education feld. Angela Fitzgerald is an associate professor (science curriculum and pedagogy) and deputy head of the School of Education at the University of Southern Queensland. Her main focus is engaging pre- and in-service teachers in developing their confdence and competence in STEM learning and teaching in primary school settings. Carole Haeusler is a lecturer in science education at the University of Southern Queensland. She has had extensive teaching experience at secondary and tertiary levels and has worked as a consultant in government authorities. Her research interest is primary children’s cognition in science. Linda Pfeiffer is a senior lecturer in the School of Education and the Arts at CQUniversity, Australia. She has a broad range of teaching experiences in primary, secondary and tertiary education. Linda works with numerous stakeholders to improve STEM outcomes and leads the Australia Pacifc LNG STEM Research Central project.

STEM EDUCATION IN PRIMARY CLASSROOMS Unravelling Contemporary Approaches in Australia and New Zealand

Edited by Angela Fitzgerald, Carole Haeusler and Linda Pfeiffer

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park,Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 selection and editorial matter,Angela Fitzgerald, Carole Haeusler and Linda Pfeiffer; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Angela Fitzgerald, Carole Haeusler and Linda Pfeiffer to be identifed as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identifcation and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-0-367-22935-1 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-22936-8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-27768-9 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Apex CoVantage, LLC


List of fgures and tables List of contributors Foreword 1 More than coding: positioning STEM education in policy and practice Angela Fitzgerald, Carole Haeusler and Linda Pfeiffer 2 Engaging diverse students in STEM: the fve dimensions framework Kimberley Wilson

ix xi xiii



3 Inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM Amanda Woods-McConney,Andrew McConney and Keryn Sturrock


4 Learning mathematics through STEM in a play-based classroom Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff


5 A case study of a university-industry STEM partnership in regional Queensland Linda Pfeiffer and Kathryn Tabone


viii Contents

6 Online citizen science in the classroom: engaging with real science and STEM to develop capabilities for citizenship Dayle Anderson, Markus Luczak-Roesch, Cathal Doyle, Yevgeniya (Jane) Li, Brigitte Glasson, Cameron Pierson, Dianne Christenson, Carol Brieseman, Melissa Coton and Matt Boucher 7 School–university partnerships as rich STEM learning contexts for pre-service teachers working with primary students Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn and Anne Prescott



8 What do primary teachers think about STEM education? Exploring cross-cultural perspectives Kathy Smith, Sindu George and Jennifer Mansfeld


9 The role of the Maker Faire in STEM engagement: messages for teacher professional development Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu


10 More than STEM: connecting students’ learning to community through eco-justice Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe and David Lloyd


11 Informal spaces for STEM learning and teaching: STEM clubs Angela Fitzgerald,Tania Leach, Kate Davis, Neil Martin and Shelley Dunlop Index




Figures 2.1 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 6.1 6.2 6.3 7.1 7.2 8.1 9.1

Five dimensions framework Essential features of classroom inquiry and their variations Primary students planning the investigation Ball of Fear task brief Tertiary students planning the investigation Ball of Fear detailed task sheet Modelling effective group learning: a strategy for supporting cooperative inquiry-based STEM Group 20 showing effective group learning S2 and S3 effective group learning Initially Zac’s bridge was weak Harry’s group working at improving their bridge through reasoning with 3D shapes Lucy’s bridge Lucy designing an elevator in a guided-play activity Testing of different bridge designs Samples of student bridges that were tested for strength Creating a physical bar graph of items found in beach sand A poster created by a student using green screen technology Student examining light-intensity graphs from Planet Hunters Primary students working in small groups with PSTs on Design and Make Day Kindergarten student testing marble run materials Participant Group Demographics Maker Faire

17 30 34 34 37 38 39 39 40 52 54 55 55 56 57 87 88 94 103 110 121 136


Figures and tables

9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4

Augmented reality Augmented reality Minigolf activities Making to Maker Faire Examples of outcomes from the native Australian bees project Examples of student-generated questions Examples of a range of learning experiences Examples of teachers’ mind maps for science, mathematics, technology and English

139 139 144 147 158 161 162 163

Tables 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 9.1 9.2 9.3 10.1

Learning from Identify New Zealand Animals Learning from The Plastic Tide Learning from Globe at Night Learning from Planet Hunters and Agent Exoplanet Maker Faire activities Survey questions for student participants Student responses to Maker Faire Eight stages of critical praxis expanded by using the native bee example

83 85 89 93 137 141 142 157


Dayle Anderson,Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Paul Bertsch, Queensland Chief Scientist,Australia Matt Boucher,Thorndon School,Wellington, New Zealand Carol Brieseman, Hampton Hill School,Wellington, New Zealand Coral Campbell, Deakin University, Victoria,Australia Dianne Christenson, Koraunui School,Wellington, New Zealand Melissa Coton, Boulcott School,Wellington, New Zealand Kate Davis, University of Southern Queensland,Australia Cathal Doyle,Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Shelley Dunlop, Queensland Museum,Australia Angela Fitzgerald, University of Southern Queensland,Australia Sindu George, Monash University, Victoria, Australia Brigitte Glasson, science education consultant, Christchurch, New Zealand Carole Haeusler, University of Southern Queensland,Australia



Linda Hobbs, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia Tania Leach, University of Southern Queensland,Australia Yevgeniya (Jane) Li,Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand David Lloyd, University of South Australia, Australia Markus Luczak-Roesch,Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Jennifer Mansfeld, Monash University, Victoria,Australia Neil Martin, University of Southern Queensland,Australia Andrew McConney, Murdoch University,Australia Paula Mildenhall, Edith Cowan University,Australia Lisa O’Keeffe, University of South Australia, Australia Kathryn Paige, University of South Australia, Australia Linda Pfeiffer, Central Queensland University,Australia Cameron Pierson,Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn, University of Technology Sydney,Australia Anne Prescott, University of Technology Sydney,Australia Barbara Sherriff, Edith Cowan University,Australia Kathy Smith, Monash University, Victoria,Australia Keryn Sturrock, Murdoch University,Australia Kathryn Tabone, Central Queensland University,Australia Kimberley Wilson, Australian Catholic University, Australia Amanda Woods-McConney, Murdoch University,Australia Lihua Xu, Deakin University, Victoria,Australia


Educators have an enormous task in imparting knowledge and skills, inspiring and encouraging students and shaping our future generations of entrepreneurs. Advances in science and technology dictate that we live in changing times. Primary school educators are being asked to not only keep up to date with global trends but also address these changing ideas in their teaching. As a scientist, I can’t pinpoint where the exact ‘jobs of the future’ lie, but the research is clear that STEM skills, such as problem-solving, creativity and teamwork are going to be the must-have skills for the next ten years and beyond. Teachers have a signifcant challenge when integrating STEM into the school curriculum, given the diverse nature of what constitutes STEM and the complexity around future job uncertainty, and they must take into account that education should not be about future employment alone. As noted in this book, by authors Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe and David Lloyd, the challenge for STEM educators is responding to and overcoming narrow, simplifed interpretations of STEM. Instead they must embrace the complexity of STEM, explore integration, and work with local STEM-related issues. This book covers a wide range of topics and case studies, from STEM clubs to inquiry-based activity in STEM and play-based approaches for our youngest students. I congratulate the editors in getting such a skilled mix of authors together: to share their knowledge and offering information that maintains the fne balance between theory and practice. I recommend this book to you if you are in the education sector or a parent or infuencer who is interested in how STEM can be



delivered to our students. The ideas and insights will no doubt open your eyes to new concepts to guide your teaching and learning into the future. Prof. Paul Bertsch Interim Queensland chief scientist October 2019

1 MORE THAN CODING Positioning STEM education in policy and practice Angela Fitzgerald, Carole Haeusler and Linda Pfeiffer

Introduction A key element signifcantly infuencing this collection is that nearly all of the contributors are passionate primary science teacher educators. Individually and collectively, we strive in our institutions, across Australia and stretching into New Zealand, to equip future primary school teachers with the appropriate knowledge, skills and attributes to be both learners and teachers of science. In achieving our goals, however, we recognise the science education landscape is rapidly changing and morphing as the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into our education policies, systems and classrooms continues to grow in size and stature, both nationally and internationally. Therefore, to remain contemporary and cutting edge, science teacher educators have been required to grapple with what STEM education means to them and how science can be harnessed as a vehicle for meaningful and authentic STEM learning and teaching.This book is a result of navigating these tensions. As referred to through the title of this chapter, the development of coding knowledge and skills is a national government priority in Australian schools. Coding is to be ‘taught’ across all the compulsory years of schooling from 2020, which in this context means from foundation (students aged around fve years) to year 10 (students aged around 16 years).This form of technology alone, however, does not necessarily address the depth and breadth of learning and teaching that quality pedagogical approaches to STEM affords. STEM education is certainly much more than the integration of digital technologies into practice. In countering this narrow vision, this book intends to provide voice to how primary science teacher educators have undertaken innovative and contemporary research to better understand how to meaningfully and authentically embed STEM into existing classroom and, more broadly, educational practices by using science as a starting point.


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In providing a segue into this collection, this chapter sets the scene by frst delving into what STEM is and its prominent position in Australian educational policy, in particular, before exploring how STEM education can be understood through the lens of science and articulated in practice. The chapters in the collection are largely positioned in the Australian educational context; therefore, the policies and practices of this setting are foregrounded across the collection. Links are made to the New Zealand context, but not to the same depth or extent.This chapter concludes by sharing the thinking behind how this collection has been structured and provides brief insights into what each chapter covers.These insights draw on national and international trends to provide a framing for the diverse array of chapters that were designed to push thinking about the possibilities inherent in wholeheartedly engaging with STEM learning and teaching in primary education contexts.

Navigating the STEM education landscape STEM education is everybody’s business. In order to prosper as a society, STEM education needs to be a focus for all stakeholders and at all levels. From the early years right through to senior high school, STEM education and its principles need to be embedded in everyday life and across the wider community. STEM experiences need to involve the appropriate skill development and understandings of the scientifc process for teachers, schools, industry, parents and the wider community, who make up society and are the infuencers of children, who hold the future in their hands. Inquiry approaches and STEM project opportunities for everyone are essential for improving future STEM educational outcomes for all. —Linda, chapter author

The acronym of STEM was itself coined by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States in the mid 1990s (Jolly, 2017). In the following two decades, however, there has been a lack of clarity in the defnition, which has caused confusion and uncertainty. The result is that STEM has been used to describe anything related to any one or any combination of the four discipline areas: science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Jolly, 2017). Among educators, some agreement has emerged on a common understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of the construct of STEM and what it can achieve.The following quotes are illustrative of this: STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that removes the traditional barriers separating the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and integrates them into real-world, rigorous, and relevant learning experiences for students. (Vasquez, Sneider, & Comer, 2013, p. 4) STEM education involves solving real-world challenges by establishing relationships between the four disciplines with the objective of expanding

More than coding


people’s abilities by supporting technical and scientifc education with a strong emphasis on critical and creative-thinking skills. (Siekmann & Korbel, 2016, p. 8) Although a critical component of STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach, the importance of a solid grounding in the individual disciplines should not be underestimated. As Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, eloquently expressed,‘a musician must master the instrument before they can master playing in an orchestra. . . . Students, focus on your discipline, then you’ll see your options expand’ (Finkel, 2018, p. 4). In the context of this book, an interpretation of these defnitions and quotes might be that the development of conceptual knowledge and skills remain key to classroom practice alongside the integration of STEM-focused activities and projects.This is equally true for students and their teachers. STEM and its prominence in education cannot be fully understood without frst acknowledging the global trends in science and mathematics. These trends can be best recognised and represented through the lens of international testing. Two large-scale and widely cited international tests have been conducted since the 1990s that provide a baseline for student performance: Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).While it is beyond the scope of this chapter to examine or critique these assessment processes, a broad-brush comment would be that PISA and TIMSS have boosted the profle of science and mathematics education worldwide, leading to increased scrutiny and subsequent funding. This has particularly been the case as decreasing performances in science and mathematics across the board have refocused global education priorities. A key response has been the rise in a STEM agenda as driven by politicians and policymakers as a way to improve the scientifc and mathematical knowledge and skills of students and their teachers and ultimately the test scores of those students. In the context of the Australian STEM landscape, two key policy documents are having a signifcant infuence on STEM education and the direction that it should take: 1


The National STEM School Education Strategy (Education Council, 2015) provides an overarching framework to unpack the interconnected nature of how education and industry are operating in each state/territory jurisdiction. The Advancing Education: An action plan for education in Queensland (Department of Education & Training, 2016) clearly articulates the importance of using partnerships and networks to align with national STEM goals.

Alongside this, in the primary schooling context, the Offce of the Chief Scientist (OCS) released a position paper at the end of 2015 – Transforming STEM teaching in Australian primary schools: Everybody’s business – that also has a key role to play in how STEM education is being positioned in this country.The paper (Prinsley &


Angela Fitzgerald et al.

Johnston, 2015) proposed the following three steps of action to raise the profle and quality of STEM education in Australian primary schools: 1 2 3

Raise the prestige and preparedness of teachers through attracting high achievers and boosting rigour in pre-service education. Transform STEM education through specialist teachers, national professional development and support for principals to be STEM leaders. Think bold, collaborate and lead change.

Three years on from the OCS report, there is a focus across the country to moving towards STEM specialist teachers in primary schools, which is being supported through education departments employing STEM champions to provide targeted professional development and relevant connections. Interestingly, while this has resulted in a greater emphasis on STEM in primary schools, in reality, many are implementing technology and coding under the misguided understanding that this meets the STEM agenda. In New Zealand, while STEM education is certainly part of the national conversation (e.g. Buntting, Jones, McKinley, & Gan, 2018), it has not dominated policy and practice to the same extent as it has in Australia.The general focus is, however, quite similar in terms of being economically oriented towards the potential of STEM professions in enhancing the workforce and how best to equip students with the skills and knowledge that they will require for the STEM disciplines.

Framing STEM education through the lens of science Primary-aged children are inherently interested in science and understanding how the world works.They also live in a world with serious environmental and technological challenges that rely on solutions dependent on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary thinking.The big ideas of science are both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary and thus provide a conceptual basis for STEM initiatives in education and beyond. By choosing real-world scenarios and challenges as teaching contexts, STEM education is an exciting way of enhancing children’s natural curiosity in science and showing them the relevance of science to their future. Carole, chapter author

As STEM builds a steady presence in classrooms across Australia and New Zealand, debate over what constitutes quality STEM education is becoming more prominent (Bybee, 2013; English, 2017; Honey, Pearson, & Schweingruber, 2014). STEM education is generally accepted as requiring an integrated approach to curriculum development and implementation, so that it refects the interdisciplinary approach required to address the complex technological, health and environmental and demands of the 21st century.

More than coding


Nadelson and Seifert (2017) place the existing approaches to STEM education on a spectrum. One end of the spectrum is the traditional segregated teaching of STEM disciplines (e.g. traditional physics, mathematics, technology), and the other is a fully integrated approach to STEM where there is a seamless amalgamation of content and concepts from multiple disciplines similar to that applied in professional interdisciplinary teams (e.g. climate, environmental management, agriculture). In between lies a mixed approach where the concepts of STEM disciplines are applied in problemsolving contexts.An example of how STEM concepts are applied is a grade six problem-solving project on the design and construction of a building that will withstand earthquakes that involves all four STEM disciplines (English, King, & Smeed, 2017). In terms of STEM education in practice, Bryan and colleagues (2015) and English (2017) do not advocate total content integration, because they believe that students’ learning of core disciplinary concepts and process may be compromised.To allay these concerns and avoid poorly constructed STEM curricula, these researchers advocate that teachers be both intentional and specifc when selecting the context and content for STEM learning and teaching.An example of this approach is documented in the work of King and English (2016), where they provide evidence of success from a STEM-oriented activity that applies the concepts of light in science and measurement in mathematics to build an optical instrument. In support of effcacious STEM curricula, Chalmers, Carter, Cooper and Nason (2017) advocate that a big-ideas approach to STEM learning and teaching will facilitate students’ construction of in-depth STEM knowledge. STEM big ideas are those that link to form a coherent whole.There are three types: 1 2 3

Within-discipline big ideas that have application in other STEM disciplines (e.g. energy, scale). Cross-disciplinary big ideas (e.g. patterns, models). Encompassing big ideas (e.g. conservation, relationships).

A big-ideas approach views STEM learning as progressing towards an understanding of key ideas, which differs from a silo approach, where individual STEM disciplines are viewed as bodies of knowledge. Science is ideally situated for this approach to STEM, because the big ideas of science (Harlen, 2010, 2011) have applications in other STEM disciplines (e.g. force and motion, atomic theory, energy) and are cross-disciplinary (e.g. reasoning and argument, hypothesis testing) and encompassing (e.g. systems, relationships, change). Therefore, considering STEM from the perspective of science will provide an integrative framework and allow students the opportunity to build in-depth STEM knowledge. With this perspective in mind, this collection has chosen to use the lens of science education as an entry point into exploring advances in and contemporary approaches to STEM education in primary school settings.This focus not only enables a common thread to run through the chapters but also provides a fundamental conceptual framework for contextualising the integration of STEM into the school curriculum.


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STEM education in practice For me, the introduction of STEM to the classroom provides opportunities to contextualise learning in two key ways. First, STEM-focused activities and projects replicate how professionals work – drawing on a wide range of skills and knowledge to enact change. Second, STEM provides a vehicle for meaningfully developing a range of important life and learning skills, such as working productively in a team and solving problems. Ange, chapter author

Given the possibilities inherent in STEM education, it is hard to ignore the global presence of STEM and its infuence on how we understand and practice science education. Regardless of how you defne this interdisciplinary construct, the growing focus on STEM professions and the future-oriented role of STEM in the workforce is becoming ever sharper and more prominent.To illustrate this, consider the following insights from the United States: • • •

By the end of 2018, there will have been more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM-related occupations (Fayer, Lacey, & Watson, 2017). Only 16% of bachelor degrees obtained by 2020 will specialise in STEMfocused disciplines (Vilorio, 2014). Within the next decade, 80% of jobs will require technology skills and expertise (Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council, 2010).

These statements become even-more sobering for educators when considered in light of this quote from Alexis Ringwald, co-founder and CEO of LearnUp: ‘65% of today’s kids will end up doing jobs that haven’t even been invented yet’ (Ringwald, 2015, p. 1).The alignment of the aforementioned knowns with this unknown is providing the impetus for STEM to have a presence in basic education.This is at odds, however, with what is happening in schools. In many parts of the world, STEM, as an integrated whole, is not an acknowledged component of the prescribed curriculum. Regardless, there is a global policy push for space to be found to accommodate and integrate STEM learning and teaching into classroom activities (Howes, Kaneva, Swanson, & Williams, 2014). The reality of this imperative is that schoolbased engagement with STEM capabilities and competencies is typically becoming the responsibility of science teachers (or generalist classroom teachers, the approach used in primary education) (Rosicka, 2016). This leaves science teachers with the responsibility of ensuring that STEM education is enacted in meaningful and authentic ways to equip students with the skills, knowledge and attributes that will be valued and needed to be productive contributors in a STEM-focused future. With this context in mind and an understanding of the kinds of challenges that teachers, particularly those working in the sciences, face in preparing their students for an uncertain future, let us turn to what the integration of STEM education into the classroom might mean for learning. Projecting into the future for both the science and STEM disciplines, it is recognised that a particular set of skills, knowledge and attributes will be required to experience success and be an effective contributor in the

More than coding


workplace and in the community at large (Siekmann & Korbel, 2016).With the rise of automation, this success will no longer necessarily be about manual and routine tasks. Instead, the focus is shifting to higher-level skills that go beyond what can be achieved through robotics and production lines.These so-called 21st-century (21C) learning skills are fast becoming the focus driving the purpose of education worldwide, which signals a move away from the learning of information to the learning of what to do with and how to apply this information meaningfully (OECD, 2018). Importantly, the construct of 21C learning skills is not without its critics (Lamb, Maire, & Doecke, 2018). Some questions that are raised, for example, include ‘Aren’t we in the 21st century now?’ and ‘What are the skills that are actually needed beyond this time and into the future?’This chapter does not intend to engage with this particular argument, per se, but would like to maintain the focus on what this approach means more broadly for learning. It is a push beyond learning as the attainment of facts and towards concentrating on moving thinking to deeper levels and bringing to the fore the complexities inherent in knowledge and knowledge sharing, which has to be a positive outcome from the introduction of STEM into the education sphere.

Outline of the book As the contributors to this collection challenged the approaches and practices underpinning STEM education, they identifed four key themes: 1 2 3 4

Pedagogy. Partnerships. Professional development. Possibilities.

We would like to articulate, however, that these identifed themes should be interpreted as interconnected rather than existing in clearly delineated categories. Each of the ten chapters has been grouped into one of the four sections, depending on which theme it best represents, but we recognise that all of the chapters have some connections with all of the themes.

Theme 1: pedagogy – engaging learners in STEM through innovative practices Theme 1 opens with Kimberley Wilson’s introduction and exploration of a framework encompassing fve key dimensions to engage diverse students in STEM, specifcally low–socioeconomic status (SES) communities: 1 2 3 4 5

Relevance. Place and community. Experience. Creativity and problem-solving. Transfer.


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The fndings of the studies reported in Chapter 2 indicate that the key to engaging diverse young people in STEM is innovative pedagogical practice that demonstrates responsiveness to the needs of individual young people and their communities. Ideally, this requires a school culture that supports and encourages innovation and experimentation. Chapter 3 moves on to a pedagogical approach adopted in primary school contexts: inquiry-based learning and teaching. Amanda Woods-McConney, Andrew McConney and Keryn Sturrock describe through their research the evolution of an inquiry-based activity in STEM – Ball of Fear – that was developed and used in a primary classroom setting.This activity was then further developed as an inquirybased activity in a frst-year university context for pre-service teachers enrolled in a content-focused science unit.The description of how this inquiry-based activity evolved provides a concrete example of what is meant by inquiry-based teaching and learning, and it highlights effective strategies and potential pitfalls of using this instructional approach in primary STEM. This theme is rounded out by a chapter that uses a different set of lenses from the others in this collection, namely early-years education and mathematics. In offering this different point of view to STEM education and how it is enacted in the primary context, Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff present a case study from Western Australia describing how play-based approaches can be adopted in early-years classrooms in the teaching of a STEM unit to promote specifc discipline concept development. Chapter 4 details how an early-years teacher created an environment where the children were able to actively engage in STEM learning, specifcally mathematical spatial reasoning skills, including the use of locational and directional language and the conceptual understanding of mass.

Theme 2: partnerships – working alongside schools, STEM professionals and industry This section consists of three chapters focused on productive STEM partnerships. This theme is frst explored through a case presented by Linda Pfeiffer and Kathryn Tabone, which explores the key factors essential to successful partnerships that are based on the development and implementation of the Australia Pacifc LNG STEM Central facility in regional Queensland. Chapter 5 explores capacity, shared vision and sustainability as critical components of a successful partnership between the education sector and industry to address STEM education and engagement at a local level. Next, Dayle Anderson and her colleagues explore the potential and role of online citizen science (OCS) projects in enhancing and informing students’ capabilities in relation to becoming curious and questioning citizens. In collaboration with four classroom teachers, Chapter 6 draws on a range of evidence to highlight how OCS projects, by engaging students in real science experiences, provide rich opportunities for integrated STEM learning and teaching. Finally, Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn and Anne Prescott examine the conditions afforded to innovative STEM learning and teaching opportunities through the

More than coding


formation of productive partnerships between schools and universities. By focusing on two key school-based events, Chapter 7 looks at the impact of these STEMfocused experiences in a range of capabilities and competencies of the four key stakeholders: primary school students, in-service teachers, pre-service teachers and teacher educators.

Theme 3: professional development – supporting teachers in STEM education The third section of the collection explores professional development beginning with Chapter 8. Kathy Smith, Sindu George and Jennifer Mansfeld consider how culture infuences primary teachers’ understanding of STEM education. In a study of primary school teachers in Australia and India, they found that differences in societal expectations, curriculum demands and testing regimes infuenced how teachers in the two contexts interpret and enact STEM in the classroom and in turn their professional development needs. This is followed by Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu’s collaboration, which illustrates how the Maker Faire can facilitate the engagement of primary teachers and their students in STEM. Chapter 9 explores the outcomes of a professional development programme on STEM and entrepreneurship in which teachers and their students worked together to develop and showcase their own STEM projects and activities at this culminating event.

Theme 4: possibilities – looking for STEM outside the classroom walls The fnal section of the collection further pushes the boundaries of what is possible in STEM education, starting with a challenge to readers from Kathy Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe and David Lloyd to think about STEM as being more than the sum of its parts and much more than a pipeline to future employment opportunities. By using a transdisciplinary lens, Chapter 10 unpacks two examples of STEM education that draw on pedagogies intended to empower students as knowledgeable citizens and ultimately position them to become activists for issues in their local communities. Rounding out the collection, Angela Fitzgerald, Tania Leach, Kate Davis, Neil Martin, and Shelley Dunlop discuss how informal spaces for STEM learning (STEM clubs) support STEM learning and teaching. In Chapter 11, three STEM club contexts are represented – private provider, school based, and library based – as case studies that detail what STEM clubs are and what goals they intend to achieve. Through this collection, we are intending to inject some fresh evidence-based thinking into the STEM education conversation. By showcasing research being undertaken by predominantly science-focused primary teacher educators in Australia and New Zealand, we are showcasing the possibilities inherent in STEM education in the classroom and different ways of thinking about what is possible to enhance learning and teaching in this space. Whether you engage with this work


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by moving from cover to cover or you choose to dip in and out of chapters, we hope that these works cause you to pause for thought and provide a spark for future action.

References Bryan, L.A., Moore,T. J., Johnson, C. C., & Roehrig, G. H. (2015). Integrated STEM education. In C. C. Johnson, E. E. Peters-Burton, & T. J. Moore (Eds.), STEM road map:A framework for integration (pp. 23–37). London, UK:Taylor & Francis. Buntting, C., Jones, A., McKinley, L., & Gan, M. (2018). STEM initiatives and issues in New Zealand. Melbourne,Victoria:Australian Council of Learned Academies. Bybee, R.W. (2013). The case for STEM education: Challenges and opportunities. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press. Chalmers, C., Carter, M. L., Cooper, T., & Nason, R. (2017). Implementing ‘big ideas’ to advance the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15(1), 25–43. Department of Education & Training. (2016).Advancing education:An action plan for education in Queensland. Retrieved from documents/advancing-education-action-plan.pdf Education Council. (2015). National STEM school education strategy: A comprehensive for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Australia. Retrieved from STEM%20School%20Education%20Strategy.pdf English, L. D. (2017). Advancing elementary and middle school STEM education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15(1), 5–24. English, L. D., King, D., & Smeed, J. (2017). Advancing integrated STEM learning through engineering design: Sixth-grade students’ design and construction of earthquake resistant buildings. The Journal of Educational Research, 110(3), 255–271. Fayer, S., Lacey, A., & Watson, A. (2017). STEM occupations: Past, present, and future. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finkel, A. (2018). The winning 2030 CV. Retrieved from wp-content/uploads/STEM-in-Education-Conference-speech.pdf Harlen, W. (2010). Principles and big ideas of science education. Retrieved from www.ase. Harlen, W. (2011). Working towards big ideas of science education. Education in Science, 242, 20. Honey, M., Pearson, G., & Schweingruber, H. (2014). STEM integration in K-12 education: Status, prospects, and an agenda for research (Vol. 500).Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Howes, A., Kaneva, D., Swanson, D., & Williams, J. (2014). Re-envisioning STEM education: Curriculum, assessment and integrated, interdisciplinary studies. London, UK: The Royal Society. Jolly, A. (2017). STEM by design: Strategies and activities for grades 4–8. New York, NY:Taylor & Francis. King, D., & English, L. (2016). Designing an optical instrument:A culminating STEM activity for a primary science light unit. Teaching Science, 62(4), 15–24. Lamb, S., Maire, Q., & Doecke, E. (2018). Key skills for the 21st century:An evidence-based review. Sydney, New South Wales: Department of Education.

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Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council. (2010). A foundation for the future: Massachusetts’ plan for excellence in STEM education. Retrieved from documents/MA_STEM_Plan_Final_9_28_10.pdf Nadelson, L. S., & Seifert, A. L. (2017). Integrated STEM defned: Contexts, challenges, and the future. The Journal of Educational Research, 110(3), 221–223. OECD. (2018). The future of education and skills: Education 2030. Paris, France: Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development. Prinsley, R., & Johnston, E. (2015). Transforming STEM teaching in Australian primary schools: Everybody’s business. Canberra,ACT: Offce of the Chief Scientist. Ringwald, A. (2015). 3 Ways to fx our broken training system: World Economic Forum report. Retrieved from Rosicka, C. (2016). From concept to classroom:Translating STEM education research into practice. Melbourne,Victoria:Australian Council for Educational Research. Siekmann, G., & Korbel, P. (2016). Defning ‘STEM’ skills: Review and synthesis of the literature: Support document 1. Adelaide, South Australia: NCVER. Vasquez, J. A., Sneider, C., & Comer, M. (2013). STEM lesson essentials, grade 3–8: Integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. New York, NY: Heinemann. Vilorio, D. (2014). STEM 101: Intro to tomorrow’s jobs. Occupational Outlook Quarterly, (Spring), 1–12.

2 ENGAGING DIVERSE STUDENTS IN STEM The fve dimensions framework Kimberley Wilson

Introduction Exploring options for advancing STEM education across varying school contexts is increasingly becoming a focus for policymakers, researchers and educators (English, 2017). The complex and contested nature of STEM education has been picked up in other chapters of this text, which highlight the current state of ambiguity in clearly defning the nature of STEM education, both locally and internationally. Somewhat lost in the ongoing debates on the pragmatic nature of STEM in schools has been any real consideration of what form STEM education should take to better meet the needs of diverse learners.This is particularly important in light of the widespread poor track record of equitable educational practice across the traditional science, mathematics, engineering and technology domains (Aikenhead, 2006). International testing of student performance in science and mathematics has consistently provided evidence of large disparities in outcomes that are linked to student differences in socioeconomic status (SES), Indigeneity and geographic location (OECD, 2016). In many developed nations, including Australia and New Zealand, gaps in learning outcomes between different minority groups and their mainstream counterparts can be equivalent to several years of schooling (UNICEF Offce of Research, 2018).This inequitable situation has remained unchanged over a considerable period of time (Thomson, De Bortoli, & Underwood, 2017) and demands inquiry into how the STEM innovation agenda is being conceptualised to ensure that diverse students are not being left further behind. While educators continue to feel their way in operationally defning STEM in their schooling contexts (Holmlund, Lesseig, & Slavit, 2018), the broadness of current defnitions provides opportunities in contributing to the discussion on what STEM could and should be.

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Catering to the needs of diverse learners To establish what might work for diverse learners in the burgeoning arena of STEM education, it is worthwhile to consider what has not worked in the past, particularly in the feld of science education, which tends to act as the driver for STEM-oriented learning activities.Tytler (2007, p. 3) reports the attributes of the common experience of school science as being an emphasis on conceptual knowledge, compartmentalised into distinct disciplinary strands, the use of key, abstract concepts to interpret and explain relatively standard problems, the treatment of context as mainly subsidiary to concepts, and the use of practical work to illustrate principles and practices. Fensham draws from a range of national and international studies to more bluntly describe school science as ‘a) knowledge transmission of correct answers, b) irrelevant and boring content, and c) diffcult in comparison with other subjects’ (2004, p. 2). Authors such as Wood, Erichsen and Anicha (2013, p. 131) draw attention to the dehumanising practices of school science that see students treated as ‘essentially inert’ beings that are subject to, rather than active in, the teaching and learning of science. Such practices refect a ‘banking’ model of education, where ‘knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing’ (Freire, 1968, p. 58). While many students learn to deal with the alienating practices of school science (Wood, Lawrenz, & Haroldson, 2009), those who do not feel comfortable taking on a school science identity often fnd themselves on the margins of mainstream science education.This is particularly the case for students who hold worldviews that do not necessarily harmonise with the ‘well-defned system of norms, beliefs, expectations and conventional actions’ that constitute the culture of school science (Aikenhead, 1997, p. 219). Calabrese Barton has called for a shift from ‘the traditional paradigm where science lies at the centre as a target to be reached by students at the margins, to inclusion, where students’ experiences and identities remain in tension with the study of the world’ (1998, p. 537).

Culturally responsive pedagogy Meeting the challenge of providing a more equitable science education experience for diverse learners has been realised theoretically through an affliation by a number of authors in the feld with the principles of culturally responsive pedagogy (Brayboy & Castagno, 2009; Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005; Seiler, 2001). Grounded in respect for students’ experiences, Gay (2000, p. 29) identifes culturally responsive teaching as having the following characteristics: •

It acknowledges the legitimacy of the cultural heritages of different ethnic groups, both as legacies that affect students’ dispositions, attitudes and


• •

• •

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approaches to learning and as worthy content to be taught in the formal curriculum. It builds bridges of meaningfulness between home and school experience and between academic abstractions and sociocultural realities. It uses a wide variety of instructional strategies that are connected to different learning styles (though it is noted that the construct of learning styles is widely debated in the literature). It teaches students to know and praise their own and each other’s cultural heritages. It incorporates multicultural information, resources and materials in all the subjects and skills routinely taught in schools.

The intention of culturally responsive pedagogy is to teach ‘to and through’ the strengths of diverse students and be both ‘validating and affrming’ (Gay, 2000, p. 29). This aligns with the funds of knowledge approach advocated by Gonzalez, Moll and Amanti (2005) that advocates strategically drawing on the cultural resources of students, their families and communities to enhance academic learning. Such approaches move away from defcit framings of diverse students and their families that essentialise difference (Seiler, 2001). Bartolome (1994, p. 191) writes that ‘unless educational methods are situated in the students’ cultural experiences, students will continue to show diffculty in mastering content area that is not only alien to their reality, but is often antagonistic toward their culture and lived experiences’.This appreciation of the disparity between diverse students’ experiences and the cultural practices of school science resonates with a critical pedagogy approach that provides avenues to further explore the problematics of traditional science classrooms.

Critical pedagogy Critical pedagogy is concerned predominantly with identifying and challenging oppressive relationships of power in schooling (Hinchey, 2004).A critical pedagogy orientation towards science education necessitates exploring the cultural practices of school science that can act to exclude and marginalise students from diverse backgrounds. Lemke (1992) discusses the notion of privileged cultural positioning, where certain groups in society are more likely to be positioned to experience success with the regular science curriculum, not necessarily as a result of higher intelligence but instead due to an easier ft between their cultural background and the practices of school science. Addressing the challenge of developing a meaningful sense of ownership in the science classroom has been taken up by Seiler (2001, 2011), who has centralised the role of student voice and choice in fostering the engagement of diverse students with science. Drawing on empirically identifed best curriculum practices, Seiler’s research demonstrates that it is possible to provide room for student voice and choice in the development of science curricula while addressing mandated course content requirements and fostering the development

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of higher-order thinking skills. Seiler notes that ‘When science topics emerge from students (rather than from well-meaning teachers who attempt to impose connections to their lives), more promising patterns of student engagement emerge’ (2011, p. 368).The idea of an emergent curriculum is further developed in pedagogies that emphasise a considered commitment to place.

Place-based pedagogy According to Smith (2002), a place-based education approach is concerned essentially with grounding educational activities in local phenomena and students’ experiences. Place-based education positions the local community as a signifcant site for learning, and curriculum emerges from the particular characteristics of place (Lewthwaite, McMillan, Renaud, Hainnu, & MacDonald, 2010).While the notion of place can be problematic (van Eijck & Roth, 2010) and the theoretical articulation of place-based education has been subject to extended discussion (Gruenewald, 2008), the unifying idea that underpins a commitment to place in engaging diverse learners with science is that of connection. A common critique of school science (and schooling more generally) is that learning is unnecessarily abstract and disconnected from the experiences of everyday life. Overcoming this disconnect requires the development of seamlessness between school and community life. Roth and Lee (2004) develop this idea of seamlessness in the context of science education through their conceptualisation of participation in science as an essentially social practice, one that should be meaningfully embedded in the collective concerns of a community. Such a reconceptualisation of the purpose of school science learning is compatible with the philosophical underpinnings of Indigenous pedagogical frameworks, as evidenced in Native American scholar Cajete’s (1994) conceptualisation of education as being ‘an art of process, participation, and making connection’ (p. 24) and as ‘learning about life through participation and relationship in community’ (p. 26). Drawing from the principles of place-based approaches to education has been central to the work of Lewthwaite and colleagues (2010) in aligning the practices of science education with the educational aspirations of Inuit communities in Canada. In advocating for the possibilities of a place-based approach in relation to engaging Indigenous learners in Australia, Fogarty and Schwab (2012, p. 10) note that ‘Indigenous students learn best when learning has immediate or localised utility and is connected to the experience of the student’. This aligns with the fndings of Brayboy & Castagno, who draw on a sizeable body of research to arrive at the conclusion that ‘community- and culture-based education best meets the needs of Indigenous children’ (2009, p. 32). According to Fogarty and Schwab (2012), the goals of place-based and community-based education are generally realised through a learning-by-doing or experiential pedagogical approach.As stated by Knapp (2010), experiential learning is a dynamic process that encompasses a learner’s direct involvement in authentic tasks that encourage skill development, experimenting and constructing meaning from experience. In practice, Ayers (2010) notes the importance of providing


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opportunities for students to actively engage with direct sources and hands-on materials rather than be fed a diet of pre-digested materials, where the latter of which is often the case in traditional science classrooms.

Critical and creative thinking Inherent to the experiential learning process described in the preceding section is a focus on creativity and problem-solving. Fensham (2004) notes that students might be better engaged in science education if it were understood less as simply knowledge learning and more as an opportunity for creative problem-solving. According to Razzouk and Shute (2012), coupling science with design and technology opens up creative avenues for play, tinkering, problem-solving and the generation of novel and innovative ideas and processes.The nonlinear characteristics of creative design thinking and problem-solving can be attractive to students who have a natural inclination to ‘think outside the box’, a disposition which may not always be recognised or celebrated in traditional classroom settings. In addition, engaging young people in a process of solving the problem of a meaningful task allows for the inclusion of key science concepts at points where it seems natural and sensible to gain such knowledge to progress the task at hand.The essential nature of fostering young people’s capacity to think creatively within the study of science is reinforced by Owen (2007, p. 17): ‘in a world with growing problems that desperately need understanding and insight, there is also a great need for ideas that can blend that understanding and insight in creative new solutions’.

Translating theory into practice – a holistic framework for engaging diverse learners Presented next is a framework (Figure 2.1) that has been based on the literature reviewed earlier and on extensive work with diverse learners, their teachers and their schooling contexts (Wilson & Stemp, 2010;Wilson & Alloway, 2013;Wilson & Boldeman, 2011; Wilson, 2018). Teachers working in low-SES schooling contexts in Australia have used this framework to refect on and adjust their planning and teaching to be more responsive to the needs of diverse learners and the communities that they represent. The framework was initially developed through working closely with practising teachers to identify best practice in engaging diverse learners with science. Research fndings indicated that key elements of supporting diverse learners included an emphasis on the following: • • •

Starting where students are in relating science learning to the experiences of their everyday lives. Strengthening students’ relationships with others and their local environment by using a place and community lens. Providing opportunities for students to learn by doing by using an experiential approach.

Engaging diverse students in STEM

Focus Area

Descriptor Curriculum is connected to the life world of the learner and to issues of personal and social significance.

˜ How does this topic connect to students’ needs, strengths and interests? ˜ How is this topic relevant to students’ everyday lives? ˜ Does exploration of this topic serve an authentic purpose?

Place and Community

Place-based education enhances social and ecological connections and positions the community as a significant site for learning. Engagement occurs through an emphasis on practical activities and hands-on experiences.

˜ Can this topic strengthen a local connection to place and community? ˜ How can diverse world views be acknowledged and valued? ˜ Does this topic-position students as contributors to their school, family and cultural communities?

Creative capacities Creativity and Problem- are recognised through Solving opportunities for tinkering, creating, testing ideas and problem-solving. Transfer and Action


Reflective Questions




Authentic, actionoriented activities are easily translatable to reallife situations and experiences.

˜ Are there opportunities for students to develop their understanding through practical experience? ˜ How can familiar and accessible resources be employed to support practical learning? ˜ How can scientific process skills be meaningfully integrated? ˜ Are their varied pathways for students to develop their capacity to problemsolve and think creatively? ˜ Can technology assist with enhancing the creative elements of this topic? ˜ How can key science concepts be made available to enable students to organise and expand their thinking? ˜ How might students be encouraged to connect the ways of thinking and doing science to their everyday experiences? ˜ What real-world issues and applications are associated with this topic? ˜ Is science learning connected to personal or social action?

Five dimensions framework

Fostering and extending students’ capacity to think creatively by integrating problem-solving, technology and design-based activities. Working with students to develop their sense of agency and self-effcacy in acting on issues of personal and social signifcance.

From this foundation, a framework evolved encompassing fve key dimensions – relevance; place and community; experience; creativity and problem-solving; and


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transfer (see Figure 2.1).The framework is intended to serve the primary purpose of acting as a teacher-refection tool to encourage deep consideration of which teaching and learning practices in science education best serve the needs of diverse students.The key dimensions have been conceptualised as non-hierarchical, in that one dimension is not considered to be more or less important than another, with all contributing to a more engaged and connected form of science education pedagogy.While it is not expected that all dimensions would be incorporated into any one particular unit or topic of study, consideration of these dimensions at a metalevel may contribute to a broadening and deepening of pedagogical practice. The intertwined nature of the key dimensions further facilitates an integrated approach to planning, in order to support the broad range of social and academic outcomes deemed important in diverse school settings (Te Riele,Wilson,Wallace, Mcginty, & Lewthwaite, 2017).

Five dimensions framework and STEM learning While the presented framework was initially grounded in science education practice, ongoing work with schools in low-SES communities who are keen to be part of the STEM innovation agenda has led to considering how principles of effective STEM education might align with the fve key dimensions in this framework. Conversations with staff in a North Queensland school serving lowSES communities indicate that they are envisioning an important role for STEM in engaging their students and are experimenting with a variety of approaches to fnd the best positioning for STEM in their school. In the next section, the framework dimensions will be further explored in terms of their synergy with principles of inclusive STEM education, supported with excerpts of conversations with school staff that are practically involved in working towards operationalising STEM learning.

Relevance A number of authors indicate the importance of considering relevance in implementing effective STEM education. Lowrie, Downes and Leonard (2017, p. 22), in discussing appropriate approaches to STEM education in disadvantaged communities, note that students need to see the relevance in what they are learning. . . .This includes authentic learning experiences that connect to real-life applications of STEM, STEM in possible careers, and starting lessons with what the children know and examples in their day-to-day lives and building outwards from there. English (2017) further emphasises the importance of embracing real-world contexts as a foundation for STEM learning to engage diverse students and better meet their needs and interests. Interviews with teaching staff working in low-SES

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communities reinforce the importance of relevance in establishing student interest in STEM: I selected electricity as a topic which I thought was really relevant because every house has electricity, so even when we tinker with circuits, we can relate that back to the lighting circuits in a house, you know, if one bulb blows, do all the lights in the house go out? Well that doesn’t happen so the circuit must be parallel. Even a switch, we can relate it to the light switches with what we used to call a potentiometer, like a fan switch where you just change the resistance and it’ll change the speed of the fan. It’s so relevant to their own home. And then last year we tried a bit of stuff on forces and energy and we looked at road science and safety in collisions and all that type of stuff and they actually found that really quite interesting – everyone has a story relating to road safety. So, if it relates to their day-to-day experience, or stuff they’re interested in, then I think that’s important and useful. (Teacher, North Queensland)

Place and community The inclusion of place in STEM education is often quite broad and oriented towards positioning STEM education as student preparation for addressing global challenges such as ‘climate change, over-population, resource management, agricultural production, health, biodiversity, and declining energy and water sources’ (Thomas & Watters, 2015, p. 42). Community is often discussed in terms of forging connections between the wider professional STEM community and schools, which undoubtedly has benefts for students in relation to accessing expertise and developing an understanding of STEM in action (Lowrie et al., 2017). La Force and colleagues (2016) broaden this notion of community to incorporate the notion of giving back to the local community – an important value that underpins the philosophy of many inclusive schooling contexts (Wilson & Stemp, 2010). Less attention so far has been directed towards the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives in STEM – particularly those of Indigenous peoples.With recent attention in Australia towards better embedding Indigenous perspectives across the Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2018), it is important for educators looking forward to consider how STEM education can meaningfully integrate content related to Indigenous knowledges. A principal at a North Queensland school describes how staff were able to combine a 3D-printing activity with Indigenous art to produce gifts for NAIDOC week (an annual Australian celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples): We’ve done some 3D printing into art projects, which were then given as gifts at the school’s NAIDOC Day celebration.We printed 3D whales, frogs, dugongs, kangaroos . . . those kind of things. And then, basically, attached a


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magnet and painted it up.There were three young Indigenous girls that really led that, and they’re from out west, so they did a lot of dot painting on it.And other students really liked what they were doing, so they wanted to join in. (Principal, North Queensland)

Experience A positive implication of the current focus on STEM education is the inherently practical nature of many STEM tasks and activities. Fully realised STEM education sees students tinkering, building and creating products in order to fulfl the engineering and technological aspects of this approach (Kelley & Knowles, 2016). Peters-Burton, Lynch, Behrend and Means (2014) highlight the importance of active and immersive teaching and learning experiences as critical components of inclusive STEM practice. Christensen, Knezek and Tyler-Wood (2015) note that integrating hands-on, active and engaging activities in STEM classes can facilitate the development of positive dispositions towards STEM, which is critical for disadvantaged students who might traditionally experience a low level of affect towards STEM learning. This is refected in the following quote, by a teacher with longterm experience in working with diverse students, who emphasises the importance of teachers taking a step back to allow students to explore their way into STEM learning: You’ve got to have the capacity to allow them to tinker and to explore and sometimes you’ve got to hold yourself back from saying ‘No, it’s got to be done this way’ because they’re better off fnding that out themselves. I think that you probably emphasise the theory less than the doing. They need to know a few key terms and ideas but I would keep the mathematics component out of it, or any too-heavy science stuff out of it until they got to a stage where they were making that enquiry. Lowrie and colleagues (2017, p. 22) state quite clearly that in the context of working with students experiencing disadvantage, the focus needs to be on the students frst and content knowledge later.That is, focus on what students will gain from the learning experience and their learning needs, before content and assessment. While these are important considerations, they follow from an understanding of the overall learning experience. This aligns well with the 5E (engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate) model of inquiry (Bybee et al., 2000) that is represented in the popular Australian primary science resource Primary Connections and that encourages teachers to engage students in hands-on investigations to explore concepts and skills, before introducing formal discipline explanations (Australian Academy of Science, 2019).The central

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idea underpinning this approach is one of allowing students to do some of their own sense-making before being presented with a ‘correct answer’ or a prescribed way of tackling a problem. In relation to catering to the needs of diverse learners, this provides a soft entry into engaging with STEM activities without perceived or actual pressure to immediately master specifc disciplinary content. A hands-on approach also allows for moments of conceptual surprise as students uncover new ideas (English, 2017), an example of which is briefy described in the following educator recap: Previously, in terms of STEM stuff, we’ve done the solar ovens, way back. We’ve done constructing sling-shots and trebuchets and things like that. We’ve done the electrical kits. So just basic electric circuits. So pulling things apart, getting the wires, the old crocodile clips kind of stuff. Making basic electric circuits.The kids were absolutely amazed with the electricity generated from a lemon, and they thought that was some kind of sorcery. So doing really practical activities like that, just to show students what they can do. (Principal, North Queensland)

Creativity and problem-solving STEM education provides opportunities for schools to explore how they might nurture creative dispositions in students of all ages. Creativity is increasingly valued as an important outcome of schooling (Lucas, 2016) and is considered critical for 21st-century learners to compete successfully in global markets (de Bruin & Harris, 2017). While there are wide-ranging defnitions of the concept of creativity, it is generally associated with cognitive fexibility (de Bruin & Harris, 2017) and the ability to generate original ideas, products and solutions. Lucas (2016) provides a useful outline of fve core creative habits – inquisitiveness, persistence, imagination, collaboration and discipline – which might guide the work of schools in supporting the development of creative capabilities. Scholars in the feld of creativity make clear that the act of being creative is not reserved to the elite genius few and instead encompasses a collection of habits that can be learned, strengthened and developed (Jefferson & Anderson, 2017). In the context of engaging diverse learners in STEM education, it can often be crucial to reignite the spark of curiosity and inquisitiveness, as noted in the following interview excerpt: Like I said, that curiosity.That curious mind, inquisitive nature. Getting back to asking questions around how things work. I think for so many of the students that come here, they kind of have that drummed out of them at a young age, either through non-response from adults in their life, or from a negative response from adults in their life. So, if they’re curious about what’s happening in their world, I think that’s a real win for STEM. (Principal, North Queensland)


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In terms of how STEM might be presented in classrooms to engage diverse learners in creative thinking, English (2017) draws on the work of Gadanidis, Hughes, Minniti and White (2016) to highlight the importance of designing activities that have ‘low foors, high ceilings and wide walls’. The low-foor element enables students to tackle activities at their own readiness level with minimal disciplinary content knowledge.The high ceilings and wide walls provide scope for students to extend their thinking and learning and to generate new ideas and ways of working rather than just engaging in routine procedures or set problem-solving strategies (English, 2017).The importance of including STEM activities that are broad in scope is reinforced by the ethnographic work of Calabrese Barton,Tan and Greenberg (2017), who, in working with diverse learners, draw attention to the need for educators to honour the particular interests and experiences that students bring to the creative enterprise and to employ fexible pedagogies that embrace divergent thinking and allow for the pursuit of tangential offshoots. Engendering a sense of ‘purposeful playfulness’ (Calabrese Barton et al., 2017) to encourage students to play with ideas, concepts and solutions is likely to both enhance engagement and promote the generation of contexts where creative thinking thrives (Mishra, Koehler, & Henriksen, 2011).

Transfer and action Integral to a holistic STEM education approach is an orientation towards viewing the teaching and learning of STEM as an opportunity to increase diverse students’ sense of agency and self-effcacy (Calabrese Barton et al., 2017). STEM education has the potential to be transformative in the sense of enabling students to see themselves in a different light – to see themselves as capable thinkers, as innovators and as effective problem solvers. Rather than simply acting as a conduit towards potential STEM career pathways, inclusive and robust STEM education enables the translation of creative ways of thinking and doing into everyday life via building ‘capital stock for intelligently dealing with further experiences’ (Dewey, 1938, p. 87). The forward-looking OECD Learning Framework 2030 centralises the importance of agency in preparing future-ready students who will be able to apply their knowledge in unknown and evolving circumstances.According to the OECD, Students who are best prepared for the future are change agents. They can have a positive impact on their surroundings, infuence the future, understand others’ intentions, actions and feelings, and anticipate the short and longterm consequences of what they do. (OECD, 2018, p. 4) A key emphasis within the OECD Learning Framework is ensuring that high priority is given to the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes that can be learned in one context and then transferred to others (OECD, 2018). This focus is similarly refected in the words of educators working in low-SES contexts who

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reinforce the importance of STEM learning that can be taken beyond the school and into students’ homes and communities: A series of interesting things will remain a series of interesting things unless a student goes ‘hey, that was really interesting – I’m going to try this at home’. (Teacher, North Queensland) Ideally, STEM education experiences for diverse learners will be generative in the sense of supporting students to develop competencies that will enable them to play active roles in positively transforming society and in shaping preferred futures (OECD, 2018). STEM activities should be embedded in issues that matter – to students themselves, their families and their wider communities.

Curriculum connections The fve dimensions framework explored in this chapter has been designed to support the integration of the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities and Cross-Curricula Priorities, particularly in relation to those that encourage critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, intercultural and ethical understanding, the use of information and communication technologies and the integration of sustainability and Indigenous perspectives (ACARA, 2019a). These overarching elements of the Australian curriculum have been designed to equip all students with the skills and competencies necessary to live and work successfully in the 21st century (ACARA, 2019a). The general capabilities of the Australian curriculum are similar in nature to the key competencies of the New Zealand curriculum, which are intended to support students to become confdent, connected, actively involved and lifelong learners (ACARA, 2019b). In addition, inclusion, cultural diversity and the Treaty of Waitangi are important principles forming the foundation of the New Zealand curriculum that are intended to ensure that learning experiences are culturally responsive and affrming for all students (NZME, 2019).

Conclusion The framework and associated fndings presented in this chapter make up a small contribution towards articulating the elements of practice that might work to engage diverse students in STEM education.The intent of this chapter has been to shine the spotlight on an issue that appears to have been subsumed under wider concerns of the STEM education community in relation to defning the nature and purpose of STEM education in schools more broadly. The sense of disconnect often experienced by many students in their struggles to engage with the traditional STEM disciplines (Aikenhead, 2006) raises concerns in relation to whether STEM education will be able to deliver the needs of a diverse student population.Therefore, there is a pressing need for all educators to consider which


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STEM approach might work best to ensure that every student has the opportunity to develop a positive affect towards STEM learning that will encourage them to seek, understand and refect on STEM knowledge connected to their everyday lives. The fndings of the studies reported in this chapter have indicated that the key to engaging diverse young people in STEM is innovative pedagogical practice that demonstrates responsiveness to the needs of individual young people and their communities. This requires a school culture that supports and encourages innovation and experimentation. In an ideal world, educators would be given a large amount of professional freedom in relation to making decisions concerning the content, form and location of teaching and learning activities. In reality, teachers often fnd themselves contending with increasingly standardised forms of curricula and assessment practices (Luke, 2010) and are in many ways constrained from exploring different and more-responsive forms of practice. This is often unfortunately even more the case in schools located in disadvantaged communities who fnd themselves under increasing pressure to narrow the curriculum to address perceived defciencies in student outcomes as refected in standardised testing results (Thomas & Harbaugh, 2013).There is then a real risk that the students who would beneft the most from innovative and holistic pedagogies might be on the receiving end of a more reductionist approach to both science and STEM learning. Hopefully, some of the key dimensions of practice that form the framework presented here might demonstrate some usefulness to educators, despite the constraints that they might experience in fnding energy and space for integrating STEM in the regular curriculum. The dimension of relevance is one that can be interpreted in multiple ways in order to ensure that students are able to make connections between the STEM activities in their classrooms and the realities of everyday life.The ideas behind place and community may encourage educators to develop a more contextualised form of STEM learning that contributes to a sense of seamlessness between the spheres of school and community and that respectfully incorporates diverse perspectives. While the dimension of experience may seem self-explanatory, a focus on more-experiential forms of learning could help to engage those learners who might not ordinarily engage with STEM. An emphasis on creativity and problem-solving provides opportunities for students to develop higher-order thinking skills that have usefulness within and beyond the science classroom and may unveil hidden talents. Finally, a focus on transfer and action encourages students to recognise and engage with STEM-related concerns as a process of making sense of the world around them and contributes the means to more-active forms of citizenship.While the framework developed is not intended to be prescriptive in any form, considering even some of these dimensions might hopefully inspire educators to explore opportunities to reframe STEM education practice into a form that more readily resonates with the needs, interests and concerns of diverse young people.

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References Aikenhead, G. S. (1997). Toward a frst nations cross-cultural science and technology curriculum. Science Education, 81(2), 217–238. Aikenhead, G. S. (2006). Science education for everyday life: Evidence-based practice. New York, NY: Teacher’s College Press. Australian Academy of Science. (2019). Primary connections. Retrieved from www. Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2018). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures: New science elaborations. Retrieved from aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-histories-and-cultures/ Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2019a). General capabilities. Retrieved from Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2019b). International comparative study:The Australian Curriculum and the New Zealand Curriculum. Retrieved from program-of-research-2017-2020/ Ayers, W. (2010). To teach:The journey of a teacher. New York, NY:Teachers College Press. Bartolome, L. (1994). Beyond the methods fetish: Toward a humanizing pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 64(2), 173–194. Brayboy, B. M. J., & Castagno,A. E. (2009). Self-determination through self-education: Culturally responsive schooling for Indigenous students in the USA. Teaching Education, 20(1), 31–53. Bybee, R.W.,Taylor, J.A., Gardener,A.,Van Scotter, P., Powell, J. C.,Westbrook,A., & Landes, N. (2000). The BSCS 5E instructional model: Origins, effectiveness and applications. Colorado Springs, CO: BSCS. Cajete, G. (1994). Look to the mountain:An ecology of indigenous education. Durango, CO: Kivaki Press. Calabrese Barton,A. (1998). Reframing ‘science for all’ through the politics of poverty. Educational Policy, 12(5), 525–541. Calabrese Barton, A.,Tan, E., & Greenberg, D. (2017).The Makerspace movement: Sites of possibilities for equitable opportunities to engage underrepresented youth in STEM. Teachers College Record, 119(6), 1–44. Christensen, R., Knezek, G., & Tyler-Wood, T. (2015). Alignment of hands-on STEM engagement activities with positive STEM dispositions in secondary school students. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 24(6), 898–909. De Bruin, L. R., & Harris, A. (2017). Fostering creative ecologies in Australasian secondary schools. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42(9), 23–43. Dewey, J. (1938). John Dewey on education. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. English, L. D. (2017). Advancing elementary and middle school STEM education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15(Supplement 1), S5-S24. Fensham, P. (2004, September 23–24). Engagement with science:An international issue that goes beyond knowledge. Paper presented at the Science and Mathematics Education Conference (SMEC) Series, Dublin, Ireland. Fogarty,W., & Schwab, R. G. (2012). Indigenous education: Experiential learning and learning through country. The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR),Working Paper No. 80/2012. Canberra,ACT:Australian National University. Freire, P. (1968). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Seabury Press.


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Gadanidis, G., Hughes, J. M., Minniti, L., & White, B. J. G. (2016). Computational thinking, Grade 1 students and the binomial theorem. Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1007/s40751-016-0019-3 Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching:Theory, research and practice. New York, NY:Teachers College Press. Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge:Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Gruenewald, D.A. (2008).The best of both worlds:A critical pedagogy of place. Environmental Education Research, 14(3), 308–324. Hinchey, P. H. (2004). Finding freedom in the classroom: A practical introduction to critical theory. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. Holmlund,T. D., Lesseig, K., & Slavit, D. (2018). Making sense of ‘STEM Education’ in K-12 contexts. International Journal of STEM Education, 5(32). doi:10.1186/s40594-018-0127-2 Jefferson, M., & Anderson, M. (2017). Transforming schools: Creativity, critical refection, communication, collaboration. London, UK: Bloomsbury. Kelley, T. R., & Knowles, J. G. (2016). A conceptual framework for integrated STEM education. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(11). doi:10.1186/s40594–016–0046-z Knapp, C. E. (2010). Place-based curricula and pedagogical models: My adventures in teaching through community contexts. In D. A. Gruenewald & G. A. Smith (Eds.), Place-based education in the global age (pp. 5–28). New York, NY: Routledge. La Force, M., Noble, E., King, H., Century, J., Blackwell, C., Holt, S., . . . Loo, S. (2016).The eight essential elements of inclusive STEM high schools. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(21). doi:10.1186/s40594–016–0054-z Lemke, J. L. (1992). The missing context in science education: Science. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA. Lewthwaite, B. E., McMillan, B., Renaud, R. D., Hainnu, R., & MacDonald, C. (2010). Combining the views of ‘both worlds’: Science education in Nunavut Piqusiit Tamainik Katisugit. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 98, 1–92. Lowrie,T., Downes, N., & Leonard, S. (2017). STEM education for all young Australians. A Bright Spots STEM Learning Hub Foundation Paper, for SVA, in partnership with Samsung. University of Canberra, STEM Education Research Centre. Lucas, B. (2016).A fve-dimensional model of creativity and its assessment in schools. Applied Measurement in Education, 29(4), 278–290. Luke, A. (2010). Will the Australian curriculum up the intellectual ante in primary classrooms? Curriculum Perspectives, 30(3), 59–65. Mishra, P., Koehler, M. J., & Henriksen, D. (2011). The seven trans-disciplinary habits of mind: Extending the TPACK framework towards 21st century learning. Educational Technology, 11(2), 22–28. New Zealand Ministry of Education (NZME). (2019).The New Zealand curriculum online. Retrieved from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2016). Low-performing students:Why they fall behind and how to help them succeed. Paris, France: PISA, OECD Publishing. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2018).The future of education and skills: Education 2030. Retrieved from E2030%20Position%20Paper%20(05.04.2018).pdf Owen, C. (2007). Design thinking: Notes on its nature and use. Design Research Quarterly, 2(1), 16–27. Peters-Burton, E. E., Lynch, S. J., Behrend,T. S., & Means, B. B. (2014). Inclusive STEM high school design: 10 Critical components. Theory Into Practice, 53(1), 64–71.

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Razzouk, R., & Shute,V. (2012).What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, 83(2), 330–348. Roth, W.-M., & Lee, S. (2004). Science education as/for participation in the community. Science Education, 88(2), 263–291. Seiler, G. (2001). Reversing the ‘standard’ direction: Science emerging from the lives of African American students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(9), 1000–1014. Seiler, G. (2011). Reconstructing science curricula through student voice and choice. Education and Urban Society, 45(3), 362–384. Smith, G. (2002). Place based education: Learning to be where we are. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(8), 584–594. Te Riele, K.,Wilson, K.,Wallace,V., McGinty, S., & Lewthwaite, B. (2017). Outcomes from fexible learning options for disenfranchised youth: What counts? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21(2), 117–130. Thomas, B., & Watters, J. (2015). Perspectives on Australian, Indian and Malaysian approaches to STEM education. International Journal of Educational Development, 45, 42–53. Thompson, G., & Harbaugh, A. G. (2013). A preliminary analysis of teacher perceptions of NAPLAN on pedagogy and curriculum. Australian Educational Researcher, 40(3), 299–314. Thomson, S., De Bortoli, L., & Underwood, C. (2017). PISA 2015: Reporting Australia’s results. Camberwell,Victoria:Australian Council for Educational Research. Tytler, R. (2007). Re-imagining science education: Engaging students in science for Australia’s future. Camberwell,Victoria:ACER Press. UNICEF Offce of Research. (2018). An unfair start: Inequality in children’s education in rich countries. Innocenti Report Card 15, UNICEF Offce of Research, Innocenti, Florence. Van Eijck, M., & Roth,W.-M. (2010).Towards a chronotopic theory of ‘place’ in place-based education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 5(4), 869–898. Wilson, K. (2018). Practitioner perspectives. In S. McGinty, K. Wilson, J. Thomas, & B. Lewthwaite (Eds.), Gauging the value of education for disenfranchised youth: Flexible learning options. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Wilson, K., & Alloway,T. (2013). Expecting the unexpected: Engaging diverse young people in conversations around science. Australian Educational Researcher, 40(2), 195–206. Wilson, K., & Boldeman, S. (2011). Exploring ICT integration as a tool to engage young people at a fexible learning centre. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(6), 661–668. Wilson, K., & Stemp, K. (2010). Science education in a ‘classroom without walls’: Connecting young people via place. Teaching Science, 56(1), 6–10. Wood, N. B., Erichsen, E.A., & Anicha, C. L. (2013). Cultural emergence:Theorizing culture in and from the margins of science education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(1), 122–136. Wood, N. B., Lawrenz, F., & Haroldson, R. (2009). A judicial presentation of evidence of a student culture of ‘dealing’. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(4), 421–441.

3 INQUIRY-BASED TEACHING AND LEARNING IN PRIMARY STEM Amanda Woods-McConney, Andrew McConney and Keryn Sturrock

Introduction STEM education indispensably includes ensuring that students are involved in authentic applications, active learning environments and inquiry (Nadelson et al., 2013). So what does this statement mean for us as practising teachers or as students learning to become science teachers? Refecting on these three essential features of STEM, it is relatively clear what authentic applications means. If you visited a classroom and saw students designing a ramp for a new library, it would be clear that the project was based on an authentic (real-world) scenario. Similarly, active learning is relatively straightforward. If students are learning how to measure the length of the ramp, they are engaged in doing something and are clearly active.Yet as you enter the same classroom, how do you identify whether inquiry is happening? Is it inquiry because students are working in groups and engaged and because the activity is clearly hands-on? In another classroom, you see students following instructions to examine whether an aspirin in water has any effect on how long cut fowers placed in that solution stay fresh.This is more of a scientifc investigation. Is this inquiry? You walk into yet another classroom and see a teacher leading a brainstorming session with students, listing what they know about the properties of light in preparation for designing an investigation by using everyday materials such as torches (fashlights), blocks, trays and boxes to show how light travels. Which, if any, of these activities would be considered inquiry-based learning and teaching in STEM? There are many interpretations of inquiry, and it is possible that if you ask fve different educators about inquiry in the primary STEM classroom, you might get four or fve different descriptions about what inquiry is and how to effectively implement it. Although inquiry-based education has been advocated by STEM educators, agreement about what it is (its critical components) and its effectiveness in supporting student learning has not always been straightforward. This chapter will describe the evolution of an inquiry-based activity in STEM,

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Ball of Fear, that was developed and used in a primary classroom setting and then further developed as an inquiry-based activity in a frst-year university context with pre-service teachers enrolled in a science content unit.The description of how this inquiry-based activity evolved will provide a concrete example of what we mean by inquiry-based teaching and learning as well as highlight the effective strategies and potential pitfalls of using this instructional approach in primary STEM.

What is inquiry in STEM? Inquiry-based education is not exclusive to the STEM disciplines, and in general, it refers to ‘classroom processes in which pupils address questions about the natural, cultural or material world, collect data to answer these questions, analyse these data and report a conclusion based on their research’ (Dobber, Zwart,Tanis, & van Oers, 2017, p. 197). While an inquiry-based approach is not reserved for STEM disciplines, it is relatively prevalent in science education.To be clear about what we mean, we rely on the well-established defnition of science inquiry put forth in the National Science Education Standards (NSES) (National Research Council, 1996) to underpin our conception of inquiry in this chapter: Inquiry is a multifaceted activity that involves making observations; posing questions; examining books and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyse, and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results. Inquiry requires identifcation of assumptions, use of critical and logical thinking, and consideration of alternative explanations. (p. 23) Interestingly, there are many commonalities in the descriptions of the broad science inquiry features found in the Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2019) and guiding documents in the United States (National Research Council, 1996).According to the NSES (National Research Council, 2000, p. 29), science inquiry consists of fve essential features that are also evident in the Australian curriculum, and a crossanalysis confrmed that the NSES essential features and science inquiry skills in the Australian curriculum are well aligned (Sturrock, 2017). In the US, the NSES have now been replaced by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013), which also refect an inquiry approach to science teaching and learning. Although the NGSS do not explicitly address inquiry-based instructional methods in their performance expectations, they clearly imply that inquiry is an integral and necessary part of the science learning process (Marshall, Smart, & Alston, 2017).

Inquiry as a continuum Inquiry can be described as a continuum with regard to the amount of detailed teacher guidance provided (Banchi & Bell, 2008; Bevins & Price, 2016; National


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Research Council, 2000). The fve essential elements of inquiry, explained earlier, can be further unpacked depending on the amount of teacher guidance, or student control, from open inquiry to structured inquiry (Figure 3.1). As evident in Figure 3.1, inquiry is complex and cannot be assigned to one level.The amount of student control over their own learning decreases from open inquiry through to guided inquiry, structured inquiry and the lowest level of student control, confrmatory or verifcation activities (right-hand column of Figure 3.1). Students need to be provided with opportunities to participate in all types of inquiry during their learning (NRC, 2000). This description of what inquiry-based teaching and learning is widely understood to be in science also provides a useful foundation for understanding inquirybased teaching and learning in STEM. Kaiser, Mayer and Malai (2018) identify two further characteristics of inquiry-based education in STEM disciplines. These are deep, active student engagement and opportunities for students to collaborate in cooperative groups. In primary settings, it is common to see cooperative groups of three or four students involved in STEM activities. Cooperative inquiry-based learning typically involves students working together in small groups in ways that are more-authentic refections of the STEM disciplines: asking and answering questions about a topic, participating in discussion and debate and collaborating with peers to come to agreed understandings (Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007). In cooperative inquiry-based group work, students divide responsibilities and use language associated with cooperative inquiry-based learning to discuss, debate and engage in argument regarding their explanations (Gillies, Nichols, Burgh, & Haynes, 2014; Sharan, 2015; van Leeuwen & Janssen, 2019). Further, cooperative group work is suggested


Essential features of classroom inquiry and their variations

Source: Adapted from Table 2–6, ‘Essential Features of Classroom Inquiry and Their Variations’, NRC 2000, p. 29: Reprinted with permission from (NRC), (2017) by the National Academy of Sciences, Courtesy of the National Academies Press,Washington, DC

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as a way to improve achievement, motivation and social interactions in primary STEM, and overall, it is viewed as an effective instructional strategy to facilitate high-level discussion and interactions among student group members and ‘advisable to enable students to conduct their inquiry assignments in small peer groups’ (Zion & Mendelovici, 2012, p. 390). Small group work in primary STEM is also a strategy that teachers use due to limited resources (Woods-McConney,Wosnitza, & Sturrock, 2016). Because cooperative groups ranging from two to fve members are prevalent in primary STEM and ‘almost all inquiry-learning approaches make use of group work’ (Dobber et al., 2017, p. 209), this chapter also emphasises cooperative inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM. Therefore, we conceptualise inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM to be activities where learners do the following: • • • • • • •

Generate questions. Give priority to evidence in responding to questions. Formulate explanations from evidence. Explain and predict observations on the basis of stem knowledge and processes. Communicate and justify explanations. Actively engage. Collaborate in cooperative groups.

This view of cooperative inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM is informed by and represents a synthesis of the National Research Council (2000), Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2019), and the work of Kaiser and colleagues (2018).

Why inquiry? In a review that evaluated research evidence on the role of teachers in all disciplines of inquiry-based education, Dobber, Zwart, Tanis and van Oers explained that inquiry has been described as ‘more effective than more traditional, teacherdirected forms of learning’ (2017, p. 195), leading to improvements in students’ ‘knowledge development, reasoning skills, motivation and self-regulated learning’ (p. 195). As noted by Dobber and colleagues (2017), the majority of studies in the review centred on STEM disciplines, and we contend that these positive views apply to inquiry-based learning in STEM. Along with widespread positive views for inquiry-based learning, however, there are some researchers who question the value of inquiry-based teaching and learning and describe it as ‘less effective than direct instruction’ (p. 95) due to the low level of teacher guidance and minimal feedback (Dobber et al., 2017). However, even though there have been important questions raised about inquiry-based learning, on balance, it seems that inquirybased education is viewed positively, and over the past 50 years, inquiry-based education in science has been generally promoted and even advocated by teacher educators, practitioners and science education researchers (McConney, Oliver, Woods-McConney, Schibeci, & Maor, 2014; Teig, Scherer, & Nilsen, 2019) with


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corresponding support in STEM disciplines. Further, inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM is well aligned with modern learning theory, allowing an in-depth exploration of the nature, principles and concepts of STEM disciplines. In the sciences in Australia, inquiry-based education has been included in the national curriculum, with science inquiry skills as one of three interconnected strands in the structure of the curriculum, the other two being science understanding (biology, chemistry, physics, and earth and space sciences) and science as a human endeavour (ACARA, 2019).

Not all inquiry is created equal and too much of a good thing can be a problem Given the positive characteristics of cooperative inquiry-based STEM and several decades of educators communicating the benefts of cooperative inquirybased teaching and learning in primary classrooms, it would make sense to see improvement in desirable STEM outcomes for primary students and secondary students.There is solid evidence that at least in science, cooperative inquiry-based teaching and learning is strongly associated with improved engagement in science for 15-year-old students (McConney et al., 2014). However, while there is clear evidence on the positive association between engagement and inquiry-based teaching for 15-year-old students, the association between inquiry-based teaching and students’ scientifc literacy is not as clear-cut. Evidence has recently begun to accumulate that the relationship between the frequency with which we use certain inquiry-based teaching activities and students’ scientifc literacy is not linear. In other words, research has shown that increased use of inquiry-based teaching does not always mean that students’ scientifc literacy also increases (or decreases). Instead, for some activities, as the frequency of inquiry-based teaching goes up, we observed an associated increase in scientifc literacy until an optimal level had been reached, and then as the frequency of inquiry-based activity continued to increase, the association with scientifc literacy turned negative (Oliver, McConney, & Woods-McConney, 2019). Because these fndings for 15-year-old students in several countries were consistent with fndings for year eight students in Norway (Teig, Scherer, & Nilsen, 2018), we have suggested that more is not always better, and there is likely an optimal frequency with which cooperative inquiry-based teaching and learning should be used in primary STEM classrooms. Upon refection, this makes sense for a number of reasons. It is possible that since inquiry-based teaching requires extensive resources, such as time and effort, for both teachers and students, other effective teaching strategies may not be used as frequently (Teig et al., 2018). That is, there is an opportunity cost to using inquiry-based teaching and learning strategies in primary STEM.Therefore, instead of focusing on a high frequency of inquiry-based STEM activities in primary classrooms, high-quality activities are likely a more effective way to support student learning (Marshall, Smart, & Horton, 2010). But how do we ensure such high quality in inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM? Looking at two cases of an inquiry-based activity,

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one in the primary setting without teacher interventions and one in the university setting with interventions, provides a way to illustrate components of effective inquiry-based education in STEM.

Ball of Fear: a cooperative, inquiry-based STEM activity in the primary context The cooperative inquiry-based learning environment is a productive context for developing students’ high-level content processing (meaning making) and improving student motivation, problem-solving and social interaction (Cohen, 1994). In cooperative inquiry-based STEM activities, this involves incorporating interdisciplinary knowledge and skills into cooperative inquiry-based learning. As part of a study to investigate primary students’ level of content-related student interactions in a small group in an upper-primary STEM class setting, student discussions in the group were videotaped and analysed (Woods-McConney et al., 2016).This research was designed to investigate whether high-level group interactions would occur in an authentic setting, without intervention from educators. For the inquiry task, students were placed into groups of four and asked to investigate how they would design and construct the ride Ball of Fear. A report outlining their investigative work was required at the end. Students were told that they had two 90-minute lessons to complete the investigation, and they would need to design the investigation by using different surface types, such as bitumen, carpet, or concrete, on the school campus.A 500 mm length of 40mm PVC pipe and a 25 mm diameter marble were provided for each group (see Figure 3.2). Students could request additional equipment and tools following their initial discussions in their groups, and after the initial discussion, all groups requested a measuring tape. Students were required to plan two investigations, identify research questions and state their predictions (see Figure 3.3). They needed to identify independent, dependent and controlled variables and were asked to describe how they would ensure a fair test investigation. Students used the equipment and designed an investigation to test their hypothesis. Observations, descriptions and measurements were taken by group members and recorded by each individual student on their own handout. Students were asked to interpret the data and form conclusions to answer their research questions, and a report summary was written by each group, to be presented to the class (in a third lesson that was not part of the study).Throughout the investigation, the teacher visited each group and generally monitored group members’ contributions, interactions, participation, on-task behaviour and understandings.The teacher posed questions to encourage elaboration of ideas by group members. High-level interactions among the students in the cooperative groups occurred without explicitly teaching inquiry or cooperative skills, which supports the rationale for including inquiry-based activities in primary STEM. The value of cooperative inquiry-based group work largely depends on student interactions, and higherorder thinking and content processing are scaffolded by, and occur when, students


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Primary students planning the investigation


Ball of Fear task brief

participate in high-level peer discussion (Cohen, 1994; Gillies & Nichols, 2015). Do these fndings mean that the teacher can sit back and watch learning occur? No. Teacher guidance and feedback play essential roles in the generation of higher-level thinking and conceptual development during cooperative inquiry-based group work (Lazonder & Harmsen, 2016; van Leeuwen & Janssen, 2019). In this study’s analysis, no specifc pattern of events or group characteristics prompted the high-level interactions observed among group members (Woods-McConney et al., 2016).Also, the high-level interactions did not last for a long time. When all of the data were combined for a total of 180 minutes (two 90-minute lessons), high-level student-tostudent content interactions represented just over 4% of the time spent in the lesson. While it is good news that high-level interactions occurred, it would be ideal if there were more high-level student-to-student interactions that last longer.

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Nevertheless, to function most effectively in the cooperative inquiry-based STEM environment, students need explicit instruction in what cooperative inquiry-based STEM actually is and what effective, productive participation involves. Students need to experience someone explicitly teaching them the strategies and language considered necessary for successful engagement in cooperative inquiry-based learning. It is possible that without explicit instruction, students may not be aware of, or recognise, opportunities for them to engage meaningfully with the activity (Gresalf, Barnes, & Cross, 2012; McNeill, González-Howard, Katsh-Singer, & Loper, 2016) or may not experience high-level cooperative inquiry-based interactions. Explicit instruction can steer students towards behaviours that result in their productive and effective participation in cooperative inquiry-based learning and the development of their conceptual understandings. Even though primary students engaged with the Ball of Fear activity were not prepared explicitly with science content knowledge how to work in groups, there was high-level discussion. Therefore, we know that productive STEM-focused interactions can happen in the primary setting. So, how can teachers guide highlevel student discussions? When students are engaged in cooperative inquirybased activities, knowledge, teacher guidance, and language help ensure interaction and interdependence that leads to successful student collaboration and higherlevel content processing (Linn, Gerard, Matuk, & McElhaney, 2016; Sharan, 2015; van Leeuwen & Janssen, 2019).

Knowledge There are two main components of teacher knowledge necessary to facilitate effective cooperative inquiry-based STEM activities. Effective teachers need to know the content and also how to facilitate cooperative interaction among group members (van Leeuwen & Janssen, 2019).

Teacher guidance The teacher is an important role model in cooperative inquiry-based learning because the teacher demonstrates for students how to interact as a member of a cooperative group and prompts students to explain their ideas with one another and ask follow-up questions to ensure high-level group discussions (Webb et al., 2009).There is evidence that the focus of students’ activities often mirrors that of the teacher’s guidance (van Leeuwen & Janssen, 2019). For example, if the teacher’s guidance focuses on STEM content, students will focus their group interactions on explaining content as well.

Language In addition to explicit instruction about what cooperative inquiry-based learning is and how to operate within it, effective participation in cooperative groups requires mastering the language associated with inquiry and cooperative group


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work, including that used in discussion, debate and argument (Ford & Forman, 2015).The dialogic peer interactions encountered during group work require students to participate in authentic discussions in which they develop their reasoning, thinking and problem-solving skills (Gillies et al., 2014).

Ball of Fear: a cooperative, inquiry-based STEM activity in a frst-year university context We revisit the Ball of Fear inquiry-based task in the context of a frst-year university science content unit for pre-service primary teachers.This science content unit was developed and taught for prospective primary school teachers and based on the premise that pre-service teachers who have learned science in a setting that models primary science activities, using materials found in the primary science classroom, will likely have greater self-effcacy for teaching primary science (see Figure 3.4). The unit guide requests that students keep an open mind and be ready to increase their confdence and see science as it surrounds them in their everyday life if they were unsure or thought they were not good at science.The unit guide also informed students who enjoy science that we seek to facilitate further development of their sense of wonder and their confdence in teaching science. Each week for 12 weeks, the unit included a onehour lecture and a two-hour laboratory session.All lab activities were developed so that they could be used in the primary classroom and taught at a tertiary level. Lab activities included but were not limited to the fundamental skills needed to design a fair test investigation (e.g. designing a simple fair test, gathering data and drawing graphs, developing research questions, etc.), science content knowledge with active learning (e.g. observations and inferences, identifying an unknown powder), designing fair test investigations and so on. As part of the unit assessment, students were required to complete lab quizzes, design and implement their own fair test investigation with a fnal report (see Figure 3.5) and complete an exam. The Ball of Fear inquiry-based task was held midway through the semester. Similar to the primary task, students worked in groups of four and were asked to investigate how they would design and construct the Ball of Fear ride. Students needed to design the investigation by using different surface types, such as bitumen, carpet or concrete, on the university campus and to identify how the angle of the tube affected the distance the marble rolled. Various tubes, measuring tapes and various sizes of marbles were provided for each group. In contrast to the primary inquiry-based task, the tertiary students did not have the same materials available (same length, width and material of the tube and same diameter of marble). Instead, students needed to choose the ‘best’ materials to ensure that they controlled their variables and designed a fair test investigation.Also, compared with the primary students, the tertiary students were provided with more opportunities for completing activities that developed their skills to design a fair test investigation. The tertiary students were meant to complete part of their investigation planner as homework before they came to the lab and had less time than the primary students to complete the two investigations (two hours instead of three hours).

Inquiry-based teaching and learning



Tertiary students planning the investigation

The Ball of Fear inquiry-based STEM activity was included as one part of a study to investigate the effect of an intervention on teacher education students’ affect in learning science and science knowledge (Woods-McConney,Wosnitza, & Delzepich, 2018). Two intervention components – weekly mini multiple-choice quizzes and explicit teaching of reasoning skills – were based on students’ need to know the content.The third intervention, video examples of effective group work with explicit


Amanda Woods-McConney et al.


Ball of Fear detailed task sheet

emphasis on the characteristics of effective group work (Barron, 2003; King, 2002), was based on the need for students to know how to work in groups, teacher guidance in the form of modelling and language for effective group work.This third component is described in further detail as an effective strategy that can be used in a teacher education unit or the primary classroom setting (see Figure 3.6).

Inquiry-based teaching and learning


Effective Group Learning ˜ All members are involved and engaged in active listening ˜ Members ask questions and look for understanding

˜ Members explain ideas in their own words

˜ Team members seek clarification and state when they don't know something

˜ Multiple alternative explanations are offered

˜ Ideas are valued, members are comfortable ˜ Ideas or explanations are presented tentatively (as opposed to imposed on others)

˜ Members feel safe (as opposed to intimidated) ˜ Members elaborate on ideas expressed by others ˜ Members feel that they belong to the group. They use we to indicate belonging to the team


Modelling effective group learning: a strategy for supporting cooperative inquiry-based STEM


Group 20 showing effective group learning

A list of characteristics for effective group learning was provided to students, and after students had a chance to read the list, a short videoclip of students working and interacting in their groups was shown (se Figure 3.7). After viewing the videoclip, the teacher led a student discussion about effective group learning characteristics and where they were located in the videoclip. Midway through the semester, the characteristics of effective group learning were revisited. The list of effective groups characteristics was shown again, and a videoclip of a different inquiry-based activity was shown (see Figure 3.8). Students


Amanda Woods-McConney et al.


S2 and S3 effective group learning

were asked to identify instances when there was an example of effective group learning while they viewed the short videoclip.After viewing the videoclip, explicit examples, such as presenting ideas or explanations tentatively or group members seeking clarifcation were discussed, along with instances in which group members explained their ideas or asked questions. In the research study, when the two groups were compared, the intervention group (pre-service teachers explicitly taught content and cooperative inquiry-based skills) had higher levels of self-effcacy teaching STEM than those not explicitly taught these skills (Woods-McConney et al., 2018).These results support the practice of ensuring that students (both pre-service teaching and primary) in inquirybased STEM have adequate content knowledge and have been explicitly taught how to work in cooperative groups, including knowing the language of effective group work. The fndings are also important because self-effcacy is essential for teachers teaching primary STEM (Brand & Wilkins, 2007; Mansfeld & WoodsMcConney, 2012) and can act as a ‘proxy for the larger issues of teacher knowledge and preparedness for teaching STEM content’ (Nadelson et al., 2013, p. 159).

Summary: the way forward As with much of teaching, there is no magic formula or foolproof instruction detailing exactly how to effectively enact cooperative inquiry-based teaching and

Inquiry-based teaching and learning


learning in the STEM classroom. However, having a clear understanding of what cooperative inquiry-based teaching and learning in primary STEM looks like in the classroom, guided by empirical evidence, can help in the development of your own pedagogy. There are few examples found in the literature (Asay & Orgill, 2009) that teachers can use as an explicit guide, and we do know that there is considerable variation in how effective inquiry is conceived and enacted. Sometimes STEM educators think that if their students are engaged in activities, this means they are engaged with inquiry activities (Marshall et al., 2010). Many times, hands-on, active learning and inquiry can be ‘confated, but they are not the same thing’ (Cobern et al., 2010, p. 82). You can be informed, however, and know what you mean by inquiry. Revisit the examples at the beginning of this chapter and identify whether they are inquiry-based teaching and learning in STEM. If there are no examples of inquiry, what would you do to make them inquiry-based activities in STEM? Do they have the essential features? What are they missing? Effectively implementing cooperative, inquiry-based pedagogy is an important pedagogical approach (or instructional strategy) in teaching and learning in primary STEM, and while teachers have a critical role, it ‘is a demanding role for many teachers to accomplish, due to the many facets involved’ (Dobber et al., 2017, p. 211).While there may be aspects that are challenging, it is helpful to know what they are and ways to overcome them. The following are some common challenges and ways to overcome them: •

Teachers’ need for STEM subject knowledge as well as knowledge of cooperative inquiry processes. • What can you do? Participate in professional learning and gain ongoing experience in inquiry (Zion, Cohen, & Amir, 2007). Students’ need for fundamental knowledge in STEM subjects. • What can you do? Identify and teach the necessary STEM concepts and skills that students need to meaningfully participate in inquiry. Students’ need to know the skills and language necessary for inquiry. • What can you do? Explicitly teach students the processes of conducting inquiry and how to work in cooperative groups. Gradually guide students through the continuum of inquiry, beginning with more teacher guidance (NRC, 2000).‘At each level, the student acquires new skills’ (Zion & Mendelovici, 2012, p. 386). The need for time and other resources necessary for inquiry. • What can you do? Recognise that it takes students’ effort and time to do the inquiry-based activity. Establish routines so that students know what is expected, because routines provide students with predictable ways to use resources and ‘move through activity structures’ (HmeloSilver, Duncan, & Chinn, 2007, p. 102). Recognise that routines can also decrease the cognitive load for students. Familiarise yourself with any STEM resources before using them in your classrooms (Nadelson et al., 2013).


Amanda Woods-McConney et al.

The need for a culture that supports cooperative inquiry-based teaching and learning. • What can you do? Ask genuine information-seeking questions, and teach students that tentative student responses are appropriate (Oliveira, 2010). Explicitly teach your students characteristics of effective group work. Understand that establishing a culture that genuinely supports inquiry can take many weeks, even months.

The list of challenges that is included here is a start but not everything that you will need. As a pre-service teacher, you will learn from your mentor teacher and other teachers at your school. As a practising teacher, you can also learn from your colleagues (Mansfeld & Woods-McConney, 2012).Whether you are starting out or have experience, fnd a colleague who is successfully enacting cooperative inquirybased teaching and learning in their lessons, and recognise the potential of learning from and with them. Ask if you can sit in, watch a lesson and offer to help. Find what is useful for you, and adapt it to meet the needs of your students and teaching, using your own pedagogical style. For more professional learning, you can monitor and evaluate your programme success by using a protocol that measures the quantity and quality of your inquiry-based teaching in STEM, the Electronic Quality of Inquiry Protocol (EQUIP) (Marshall et al., 2010, p. 300).The EQUIP was designed specifcally for ‘refective practitioners as they try to increase the quantity and quality of inquiry’ (Marshall et al., 2010, p. 303). Most of all, start small, practice often and enjoy the experience.

References Asay, L. D., & Orgill, M. (2009).Analysis of essential features of inquiry found in articles published in the science teacher, 1998–2007. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 21(1), 57–79. doi:10.1007/s10972-009-9152-9 Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2019). The three interrelated strands of science. Retrieved from au/f-10-curriculum/science/structure/ Banchi, H., & Bell, R. (2008).The many levels of inquiry. Science and Children, 46(2), 26–29. Barron, B. (2003).When smart groups fail. Journal of Learning Sciences, 12(3), 307–359. Bevins, S., & Price, G. (2016). Reconceptualising inquiry in science education. International Journal of Science Education, 38(1), 17–29. doi:10.1080/09500693.2015.1124300 Brand, B. R., & Wilkins, J. L. M. (2007). Using self-effcacy as a construct for evaluating science and mathematics methods courses. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18(2), 297–317. Cobern, W., Schuster, D., Adams, B., Applegate, B., Skjold, B., Undreiu, A., . . . Gobert, J. (2010). Experimental comparison of inquiry and direct instruction in science. Research in Science & Technological Education, 28(1), 81–96. doi:10.1080/02635140903513599 Cohen, E. G. (1994). Restructuring the classroom: Conditions for productive small groups. Review of Educational Research, 64(1), 1–35. doi:10.2307/1170744 Dobber, M., Zwart, R., Tanis, M., & van Oers, B. (2017). Literature review: The role of the teacher in inquiry-based education. Educational Research Review, 22, 194–214. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2017.09.002

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Duschl, R.A., Schweingruber, H.A., Shouse,A.W., National Research Council Board on Science, E., National Research Council, Committee on Science Learning, K.T. E. G., National Research, C., . . . Committee on Science Learning, K.T. E. G. (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-8.Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Ford, M. J., & Forman, E.A. (2015). Uncertainty and scientifc progress in classroom dialogue. In L. Resnick, C. Asterhan, & S. Clarke (Eds.), Socializing intelligence through academic talk and dialogue (pp. 143–155).Washington, DC:American Educational Research Association. Gillies, R. M., & Nichols, K. (2015). How to support primary teachers’ implementation of inquiry: Teachers’ refections on teaching cooperative inquiry-based science. Research in Science Education, 45(2), 171–191. doi:10.1007/s11165–014–9418-x Gillies, R. M., Nichols, K., Burgh, G., & Haynes, M. (2014). Primary students’ scientifc reasoning and discourse during cooperative inquiry-based science activities. International Journal of Educational Research, 63, 127–140. doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2013.01.001 Gresalf, M. S., Barnes, J., & Cross, D. (2012).When does an opportunity become an opportunity? Unpacking classroom practice through the lens of ecological psychology. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 80(1), 249–267. doi:10.1007/s10649-011-9367-5 Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A. (2007). Scaffolding and achievement in problem-based and inquiry learning: A response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006). Educational Psychologist, 42, 99e107. Kaiser, I., Mayer, J., & Malai, D. (2018). Self-generation in the context of inquiry-based learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2440. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02440 King, A. (2002). Structuring peer interaction to promote high-level cognitive processing. Theory Into Practice, 41(1), 33–39. Lazonder, A.W., & Harmsen, R. (2016). Meta-analysis of inquiry-based learning: Effects of guidance.Review of Educational Research,86(3), 681–718. doi:10.3102/0034654315627366 Linn, M. C., Gerard, L., Matuk, C., & McElhaney, K. W. (2016). Science education: From separation to integration. Review of Research in Education, 40(1), 529–587. doi:10.3102/0091732X16680788 Mansfeld, C., & Woods-McConney, A. (2012). I didn’t always perceive myself as a science person: Examining development of effcacy for primary science teaching. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(10), 37–52. doi:10.14221/ajte.2012v37n10.5 Marshall, J. C., Smart, J. B., & Alston, D. M. (2017). Inquiry-based instruction: A possible solution to improving student learning of both science concepts and scientifc practices. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15(5), 777–796. doi:10.1007/ s10763–016–9718-x Marshall, J. C., Smart, J. B., & Horton, R. M. (2010).The design and validation of EQUIP: An instrument to assess inquiry-based instruction. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 8(2), 299–321. McConney, A., Oliver, M. C., Woods-McConney, A., Schibeci, R., & Maor, D. (2014). Inquiry, engagement, and literacy in science:A retrospective, cross-national analysis using PISA 2006. Science Education, 98(6), 963–980. doi:10.1002/sce.21135 McNeill, K. L., González-Howard, M., Katsh-Singer, R., & Loper, S. (2016). Pedagogical content knowledge of argumentation: Using classroom contexts to assess high-quality PCK rather than pseudoargumentation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 53(2), 261– 290. doi:10.1002/tea.21252 Nadelson, L., Callahan, J., Pyke, P., Hay, A., Dance, M., & Pfester, J. (2013).Teacher STEM perception and preparation: Inquiry-based stem professional development for elementary teachers. The Journal of Educational Research, 106(2), 157–168. doi:10.1080/00220671.20 12.667014


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National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A guide for teaching and learning.Washington, DC: National Academies Press. NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Retrieved from Oliveira,A.W. (2010). Improving teacher questioning in science inquiry discussions through professional development. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(4), 422–453. Oliver, M., McConney,A., & Woods-McConney,A. (2019). The effcacy of inquiry-based instruction in science:A comparative analysis of six countries using PISA 2015. Manuscript submitted for publication. Sharan,Y. (2015). Meaningful learning in the cooperative classroom. Education 3–13, 43(1), 83–94. doi:10.1080/03004279.2015.961723 Sturrock, K. (2017). Science inquiry pedagogy in the Western Australian Classroom. Ph.D. Confrmation of Candidature Presentation. Perth,Western Australia. Teig, N., Scherer, R., & Nilsen,T. (2018). More isn’t always better:The curvilinear relationship between inquiry-based teaching and student achievement in science. Learning and Instruction, 56, 20–29. Teig, N., Scherer, R., & Nilsen, T. (2019). I know I can, but do I have the time? The role of teachers’ self-effcacy and perceived time constraints in implementing cognitiveactivation strategies in science. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1697 doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019. 01697 van Leeuwen, A., & Janssen, J. (2019). A systematic review of teacher guidance during collaborative learning in primary and secondary education. Educational Research Review, 27, 71–89. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2019.02.001 Webb, N. M., Franke, M. L., De,T., Chan,A. G., Freund, D., Shein, P.,& Melkonian, D. K. (2009). ‘Explain to your partner’:Teachers’ instructional practices and students’ dialogue in small groups. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(1), 49–70. doi:10.1080/03057640802701986 Woods-McConney,A.,Wosnitza, M., & Delzepich, R. (2018, June 27–29).Teacher education students’ self-effcacy for teaching primary science in Australia. Paper presented at Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA) Conference, Gold Coast,Australia. Woods-McConney, A.,Wosnitza, M., & Sturrock, K. L. (2016). Inquiry and groups: Student interactions in cooperative inquiry-based science. International Journal of Science Education, 38(5), 842–860. doi:10.1080/09500693.2016.1169454 Zion, M., Cohen, S., & Amir, R. (2007).The spectrum of dynamic inquiry teaching practices. Research in Science Education, 37, 423e447. Zion, M., & Mendelovici, R. (2012). Moving from structured to open inquiry: Challenges and limits. Science Education International, 23(4), 383–399.


Introduction In this chapter, we examine how productive mathematics learning can take place in a STEM context. The context was a kindergarten class of children aged three and four years, and it was of particular interest to explore how this STEM learning took place in an early-years classroom where the children were only three to four years old.The study investigated how STEM was able to develop the mathematical spatial reasoning skills of these children, which included the use of locational and directional language and the conceptual understanding of mass. Spatial reasoning skills have been identifed previously as a key STEM skill (Lowrie, Logan, & Larkin, 2017). As expected in current early-childhood classrooms, the teacher adopted a predominantly play-based pedagogy, so this chapter focuses particularly on how play-based approaches in the early years can be used to support the development of STEM skills.

Conceptions of STEM and STEM learning Because there are different conceptions of STEM (Ring, Dare, Crotty, & Roehrig, 2017), it is important to initially defne what we mean by STEM and STEM education. A contemporary and structured defnition of STEM has been adopted for this study: STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specifc disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. (Hom, 2014, p. 1)


Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff

Meeting the demands of integrated, inquiry-driven STEM education that develops in all children the necessary STEM capabilities and dispositions requires a highly skilled educator, and educators play a pivotal role in STEM education in providing a safe and supportive learning environment.We know that STEM education presents opportunities for developing 21st-century skills (Bybee, 2010; Husin et al., 2016; Brophy, Klein, Portsmore, & Rogers, 2008).Although this is important, managing the integrity of the respective disciplines and enhancing students’ understanding of the individual disciplines must also be part of the STEM education agenda (e.g. English & King, 2015; Shaughnessy, 2013). This chapter focuses on how STEM learning enhanced children’s understanding in the specifc subject of mathematics. Shaughnessy, a well-regarded mathematics educator, argues that If we are going to promote STEM education, as mathematics teachers we must make the mathematics transparent and explicit. (2013, p. 324) The perception of when children are ready to begin thinking mathematically has changed over the years (Newton & Alexander, 2013). Pre–Second World War approaches included teaching through a behaviourist lens and were concerned largely with the retrieval of rote facts and standardised testing (Thorndike, 2013). Through this lens, it was deemed pointless to introduce mathematics before the second grade (ages seven and eight).The assertion was that it was more benefcial to focus on general development in the early years rather than to focus on formal disciplines such as mathematics (Newton & Alexander, 2013). After the Second World War, a common view was that young children were not ready to learn formal numbers concepts but were able to develop mathematical skills such as sorting and noticing patterns (English, 2016).The current view is that young children are able to learn mathematics (Clements & Samara, 2011) and that high-quality earlyyears education in mathematics helps ensure future success in mathematics (Aubrey, Godfrey, & Dahl, 2006; Clements & Sarama, 2011; Wright, Martland, & Stafford, 2000). Research in STEM is emerging that signals that there are demonstrated benefts to STEM education in the early years (McClure et al., 2017) and hence that STEM education can provide students with the foundational STEM skills necessary for future success in this feld (Logan, Lowrie, & Bateup, 2017).

Play-based teaching Play-based teaching and learning is recommended for young children, including those aged under fve, which is the age range of the children in this study (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009). From the sociocultural approach that underpins this chapter, play includes more than socio-emotional development; it also enables the learning of new concepts, and it can therefore be an important teaching tool. Taking this view, teachers adopting a laissez-faire approach to free play is not enough (Wager, 2013). A productive

Learning mathematics through STEM


play-based classroom environment needs to be carefully assembled to include a variety of materials and resources. Educators need to be intentional, provide suitable scaffolding and present appropriate challenges (Gronlund & Stewart, 2011). Fleer (2013) explained that children’s play activities can be represented on a continuum: from activities that have no adult support to those that are totally adult directed, where children have little or no opportunities for free play. She argues that children beneft from a ‘balance of child-initiated play in the presence of engaged teachers and more focused experiential learning guided by teachers’ (2009, p. 12). In an enabling play environment, there is sensitive adult interaction. Miller and Almon (2009) assert that teachers need to understand how childinitiated play when combined with playful, focused learning leads to lifelong benefts.Wager (2013) states that learning mathematics in a play-based classroom suggests that children have regular opportunities to engage in mathematics throughout the day and throughout the classroom. Teaching children with an eye towards a mathematical future is not easy, teachers must do so in an integrated, culturally responsive way. (p. 165) This is important when considering how STEM education may be used to teach mathematics in a way that maintains its integrity. As with the effective teaching of mathematics generally, while intentional teaching is important in STEM activities, the advice tends to be that activities are child centred and that teachers design environments around a learning goal that sparks children’s curiosity and exploration and includes a variety of materials and resources for them to play with (Logan et al., 2017). This chapter describes a research study of a play-based extended learning sequence created as part of a larger project designed to enhance the teaching and learning of STEM.The STEM Learning Project (SLP) was funded by the Western Australian Department of Education and is a unique collaboration composed of the Educational Computing Association of Western Australia (WA), the Mathematical Association of WA, the Science Teachers Association of WA and Scitech. Curriculum resources were created in the form of teacher modules. The modules were designed so that they would be open-ended and would include real-world problems that would engage students in the processes of the various STEM disciplines. The Animal Rescue module is described in this chapter, and it was created around the following problem: how can we design and make a model of a structure that animals can use to cross the road safely? It includes four activities, as follows: Activity 1 – Creating a safe passage (research). Activity 2 – Investigating bridges (investigate). Activity 3 – Improving initial designs (imagine and create). Activity 4 – Sharing our journey (evaluate and communicate).


Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff

Only Activity 1,Activity 2 and Activity 3 were completed by Melanie and her class. Melanie taught the module as an extended learning sequence in a two-hour session per week for eight weeks. Activity 4 was commenced but not completed, due to inclement weather and time constraints (the end of the term). Students had many opportunities over the course of the frst three activities to create and refne their bridge designs with the class. The activities in the module address understandings and skills across the STEM learning areas.

Mathematics Mathematics is addressed in Activity 1,Activity 2 and Activity 3 as students explore the problem and experiment with shapes and their position to create sound structures and to measure and compare the structure’s strength (Animal Rescue,V1, 2019, p. 3).The module teaching suggestions specifcally include positions and positional language – above, below, at the side, crossing over, towards and away – in data.The module also suggests calculating how much weight their bridges could hold, and in constructing their bridges, students develop the mathematical understanding of shape.

Science Science is addressed in Activity 1: students think about why animals move to new places to fnd food, water and mates and in Activity 2 and Activity 3 as students experiment with different materials to build and test the stability of a prototype structure (Animal Rescue,V1, 2019, p. 3).

Technology Technology is addressed in Activity 1, Activity 2, Activity 3 and Activity 4 as students analyse digital images, analyse needs of animals, share ideas for a solution to the problem of crossing roads safely and design, construct, test and evaluate their solutions (Animal Rescue,V1, 2019, p. 3).

Engineering Students design (draw a plan), construct, test, evaluate and improve a model of a bridge that can carry animals safely over a road.They also investigate the strength of bridges and how much weight they can carry, and they share observations from testing their bridges about what made them strong. In this chapter, to provide a rich description of how the play-based approach supported the learning of STEM and particularly mathematics, a case study was selected (Yin, 2009). The case study involved a classroom teacher, Melanie (a pseudonym), and her kindergarten class from a school in metropolitan Perth.

Learning mathematics through STEM


Pre-compulsory education, named kindergarten in Western Australia, is suitable for children who reach the age of four years and six months from the commencing year. Age-eligible children are entitled to attend kindergarten for 600 hours in a year, which is an average of 15 hours per week. Melanie, the kindergarten teacher, attended an SLP professional learning workshop and at the conclusion of the workshop agreed to trial the Animal Rescue module in her classroom. On the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA), the school rating was 988 (the average is 1000), suggesting that its students were not educationally advantaged. For this study, video was the predominant data collection tool, which enabled detailed explanations of how the learning sequence unfolded. To further enrich the data collection, student work samples and photographs were also collected. The teaching and learning took place in the children’s normal kindergarten classroom.The video camera was situated on a tripod at times, and at other times, the researcher held the camera to record interactions.The video footage was central to the analysis that follows, because it enabled the intricacies of the teaching interactions to be analysed in detail (O’Halloran, 2004). The footage was analysed by using Erickson’s (2006) iterative model of video analysis.The researchers kept the following research question at the forefront when conducting the analysis: how did a play-based teaching approach enable children’s STEM, specifcally children’s mathematics, learning?

Findings The fndings, detailed later on, illustrate how the teacher, Melanie, used a childcentred approach that provided a balance of teacher- and child-initiated practices that combined explicit discussions and a rich play environment. The SLP model used in the Animal Rescue module suggested that students engage in some research in Activity 1, so Melanie facilitated an initial brainstorm to set the context and introduce the problem; students were encouraged to think and to give reasons for why animals might need to get across the road. Melanie asked the children to think about whether they had seen dead kangaroos on the road, kangaroos that had been killed by cars when trying to cross. The teacher scaffolded students’ thinking by using open questioning, as illustrated next: What could they use to help them get from one side to . . . I know, I know. TEACHER: Oh, hang on. Zac has got an idea; you need to wait and listen. ZAC: Um, the farmer can get a big box and put all the animals in it and put it on his trailer and drive them along. MELANIE:


Then the students viewed a number of YouTube clips of bridges and tunnels that had been built around the world to help animals cross the road. This guided the children’s thinking towards the idea that bridges could be used to help animals cross the road. In showing clips from Australia and around the world, including Germany


Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff

and Canada, Melanie helped the children appreciate that the problem and the solution were global issues.The frst bridge was a crab bridge on Christmas Island.The teacher explained how the crabs had been given their own bridge to cross a busy road as part of their migration so that they could release billions of larvae into the sea. Other bridges shown included a wildlife crossing in Belgium, a green wildlife bridge over an autobahn in Germany and a rope bridge for Cockatoos over the Hume Freeway in Victoria,Australia.

Intentional mathematics teaching through guided play to plan and draw a bridge The teaching at this stage was teacher directed and structured. After they viewed the clips, Melanie provided a physical model so that the children could view a concrete version of the problem. She placed a toy road with miniature plastic animals on the mat to so that they could work concretely as they started investigating the problem. Her teaching approach of using guided questioning supported the children’s thinking about why the bridge was necessary. What animals do you think might want to cross the road? I think maybe. . . KAREN: I want to do the horsey. TEACHER: Let’s start with a rabbit. So the little rabbit wants to try and cross the road. How is he going to get across the road? KAREN: I don’t know. MELANIE: Without getting squashed. HOPE: A bridge, a bridge. MELANIE:

She picked up a toy plastic rabbit and wombat and placed them on the side of the road in the model. She then asked the children to draw the road and a plan of ‘what the bridge should look like to help them get across the road’. She explained that this would be their animal bridge plan.As the students were drawing a plan for an animal bridge, Melanie used mathematical locational and directional language to scaffold students’ thinking, including above, below, at the side, crossing over, towards and away.Through this more structured activity, Melanie intentionally taught and reinforced these mathematical terms by using questioning. For example, she asked Harry, ‘Oh, so that’s your road Harry.Where’s your bridge? How are the animals going to get up on the bridge?’The dialogue below shows how the children, although only three and four years old, were able to use locational and directional language: Oh, they just walk across and they get to the other side. TEACHER: So is this the ground down here? How are they going to get up to there? HARRY: Oh, I’ll just draw a ladder. HARRY:

Learning mathematics through STEM


A ladder, that’s a good idea. That’s going to be a ladder. MELANIE: OK, so the animals are going to climb up the ladder to get up onto the bridge. Because we’ve got a ladder for the animals to get up and they’re going to go along and how are they going to get down again? HARRY: Oh, they’re going to climb back down the ladder. MELANIE: Do you think they will be able to climb? HARRY: Err . . . MELANIE: What if it was a horse? Can a horse climb up a ladder? HARRY: Do you know some animals can climb. . . . MELANIE: OK, so what if it wasn’t a horse or something that couldn’t climb how could they could get up on your bridge? Is there another way they could get up on your bridge and get down? HARRY: That’s a grassy bridge. MELANIE: A grassy bridge. So how are they going to get up onto the grassy bridge? HARRY: Well they just climb up the ladder. MELANIE: OK, and what if they can’t climb a ladder? HARRY: Then they have to not go on the bridge. MELANIE: They can’t go on the bridge? HARRY: Then they cross the road and then they get squashed. MELANIE: Oh dear, but we don’t want them to get squashed do we so maybe you can think of another way they could get up if they can’t climb. HARRY: I just . . . MELANIE: Can they walk up do you think? Up something? HARRY: They can. Um. MELANIE: What about going down? MELANIE: repeated this process with another child, Emily, and again encouraged her to use positional and directional language. MELANIE: Tell me about your bridge. EMILY: So the animals have to, that one climbs down and then the turtles have to climb and get on their back, so the rabbit had to take the turtle on her back. MELANIE: What happens if a turtle was trying to cross the bridge and there were no rabbits there to help it, what could it do? EMILY: They could follow the mummies and the mummies could let the babies on their back. MELANIE: Oh, wow, so they can still climb your bridge even if they haven’t got a rabbit there to help them? MELANIE: HARRY:

These transcripts show that even though these children were three to four years old and at a school that is not educationally advantaged, some of them were able to work at a pre-primary level, as stipulated by the Australian curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.). This was possibly supported by Melanie’s thoughtful intentional teaching that enhanced individual


Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff

children’s thinking. One possible consequence of their young age is that the transcripts show that although this problem was set in the real world, at times the responses moved into make-believe.This type of response is to be expected and can be seen as positive and adding to the creative possibilities of the learning project.

Intentional mathematics teaching using guided play to explore characteristics of bridges As part of Activity 1, the children were encouraged by Melanie to undertake guided play with items available in the classroom to make a strong bridge. They were encouraged to test their bridge with the miniature toy animals to see if it was strong and stable.This section of the learning sequence had been designed for pre-primary students (aged four to fve) in alignment with the Australian curriculum requirement: ‘Use direct and indirect comparisons to decide which is longer, heavier or holds more, and explain reasoning in everyday language’ (ACMMG006) (Australian Curriculum,Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.). One of the children, Zac, worked with Melanie, in a guided-play activity using construction materials. He used the plastic animals as non-standard and non-uniform units to test the strength of his bridge. Despite the teacher stating that she thought it looked strong, the fact that it couldn’t hold any weight did not appear to concern Zac because his initial bridge kept collapsing in the middle (Figure 4.1). Melanie


Initially Zac’s bridge was weak

Learning mathematics through STEM


interacted verbally with Zac to help him think about the design to encourage one that is strong and become more precise in his language.When she asked him why the bridge needed to be bigger, Zac explained that it needed to be bigger to be strong. I’m going to make the bridge more bigger. More bigger, OK.And why does it need to be bigger? ZAC: Well big, quite bigger. MELANIE: Why does it need to be bigger Zac? ZAC: Because that’s what I need to be strong. MELANIE: Oh, to make it stronger, OK.What if you built the bridge out of these pieces would they be stronger? Maybe . . . I don’t know do you think they will be stronger for your tiger? ZAC:


Intentional mathematics teaching through guided play to improve children’s bridge constructions In Activity 2, the SLP booklet (Animal Rescue,V1, 2019) explains that the teacher needs to Present the materials and tools available for students to construct their models. Before beginning construction, discuss what students could do to improve their model if it collapses during testing. Explain that encountering problems, testing and trying again is a normal part of the design process. (Animal Rescue,V1, 2019, p. 33) Melanie used this teaching suggestion and worked with groups of four children at a time in a ‘trade assistant’ role to assist the children to improve their bridge designs and in particular make them stronger. Melanie ask about the children’s model bridges. For example, once Harry was able to reason about his bridge design, she asked whether it would be important to have a feature that would allow the animals to stay dry. He explained that he created his bridge to have a plastic roof (Figure 4.2). Melanie asked him,‘Why did you put this bit on – what does this help the animals do?’ Harry reasoned that he had done this ‘so they [the animals] don’t get wet’. In the post-lesson interview, Melanie described that the children were problemsolving as they conducted this activity. As an example of this problem-solving, she described the interaction with Harry that was noted earlier: she explained how they could solve the problem of some of the animals of actually getting stuck and not being able to ft under the roof then so lifting up the structure so that the waterproof roof was high enough for the animals to get underneath when they actually tested it. At this stage, the children were given plenty of time to explore and make their own bridges and to test them. It became evident that the strategy of giving students time to play and explore with less teacher direction was valuable in that it provided


Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff


Harry’s group working at improving their bridge through reasoning with 3D shapes

time for the children to think, design, construct and learn from their constructions.This learning sequence helped develop children’s spatial reasoning skills.What looked like unfocused play was, for some children at least, a productive learning experience. For example, Lucy (pseudonym), who did not appear to be specifcally thinking about building her bridge, was able to explain to Melanie the rationale for its construction (Figure 4.3). Lucy identifed and demonstrated that the method that the animals would use to get onto and off her bridge was an elevator. The post-lesson review of the video of playing in an apparently ad hoc way revealed that she had been constructing and trialling an elevator that she had made from a cardboard tube with a smaller diameter tube inside it (Figure 4.4). In our view, this is evidence of sophisticated thinking for a child of four years old. Lucy was able to spatially visualise how the 3D shape of differently sized cylinders would ft inside each other so that the smaller one could be used to push the animal up and solve the problem of navigating the bridge. Right so how could she get to that side.You show me, what did she do? LUCY: She climbed up the elevator, then she jumped then goes down with that. [She shows how the animal would go up the tube cylinder elevator and then on to the bridge] MELANIE: Oh OK, what about a wombat that can’t jump, how can a wombat get across your bridge? MELANIE: Oh dear, quick pick it up. [the end post of the bridge fall off so Lucy picks it up] LUCY: I think the wombat can go . . . [Lucy moves the animal from the top of the tube cylinder elevator onto the bridge] MELANIE: . . . over the bridge. LUCY: There, and then she’s going to use, she’s going to climb down the elevator. [Lucy shows how the wombat will go down the tube elevator] MELANIE: Sounds like a great idea Lucy MELANIE:

Learning mathematics through STEM


Lucy’s bridge


Lucy designing an elevator in a guided-play activity


This guided-play sequence supported children’s development of spatial reasoning skills. The children used the 3D junk materials and card to playfully problem-solve during the construction of their bridge (Figure 4.3).This guidedplay approach has been found by other researchers to successfully develop spatial reasoning skills (Casey et al., 2008). When introducing Activity 3, the teacher used a video on bridges, and the children watched and discussed this video on different types of bridge designs – beam, truss and suspension. The children and Melanie then made the different types of bridges out of card. This was a structured teaching activity, with Melanie leading


Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff

the discussion. She encouraged the children to join in – for example, having all the children count how many toy animals the different bridges would hold.Together, the class tested how strong each bridge design was, by using the plastic miniature animals (Figure 4.5). Melanie focused the children on the question ‘How strong is your bridge?’ Melanie directed the children’s attention to the triangles that were part of the truss bridge and were used to strengthen the bridge. The children then used the same materials that Melanie had used, including the card, and started making their own bridges. Some of the children worked alone, and others worked in pairs in an enabling play environment.They were able to use the information from the video that had been shown to them earlier about what makes bridges strong and also incorporate the information that Melanie had taught them. The children were highly engaged and focused on creating their respective bridges. The dialogue among the children was mostly concerned with practical construction matters such as the children asking Melanie ‘can I have another piece [of card]?’ or ‘Maxine isn’t sharing!’ An analysis of the video footage appeared to indicate that the activity of the children was productive as they constructed their bridges. Because they used the same materials as Melanie, it did appear that this factor infuenced their designs; that is, they incorporated some of Melanie’s suggestions, such as using triangle shapes, but they also created some new and different designs (Figure 4.6). At the conclusion of the activity, the teacher reviewed and summarised what the children had learned. She reviewed the bridge types, and as she did this, she reinforced specifc mathematical concepts by including references to the spatial terms and descriptions that described the bridge shapes. As an example of this, she explained ‘the wavy bridge was quite a wobbly bridge’. Lastly, she explained that they were going to create a role play the following week to consolidate what


Testing of different bridge designs

Learning mathematics through STEM



Samples of student bridges that were tested for strength

they had learned in this STEM learning sequence. Unfortunately, due to the poor weather, they were unable to do this activity.

Teacher refections after the SLP module implementation Melanie commented that children’s experience with the module spilled over into the children’s free play.The children were now building bridges and vertical structures by using the ideas and problem-solving strategies through the module task. In their normal play activities, they were actually building lots of bridges and structures ...whereas before they tended to just lay all the construction toys along the foor and not actually make anything that went up . . .They were building bridges with the blocks, . . . the Lego, . . . saying,‘Oh, look, I’ve built a bridge.This one would be good for the animals, this one would be good for the road’. So it’s now spilled over into all the other learning and they’re thinking about it all the time and thinking and trying to solve problems all the time; in their normal play. (Post-lesson teacher interview) While the class was not able, due to the weather, to build a bridge in the outside play area as a means to revise, consolidate and transfer what they had learned to a real-world situation, Melanie did discuss this task with the children: We talked about structures and equipment outside and discussed what we could use to build a bridge across our bike track. It took a lot of discussion and I had to name some of the items that we use for our obstacle course. Then they decided we could use the boxes, planks and supports. They also said they could use our animal dress ups to try using the bridges. Some offered to ride bikes and be the traffc on the road. (Post-lesson teacher interview)


Paula Mildenhall and Barbara Sherriff

Here we can see that the children were able to translate the idea they had used to construct their model bridges to consider how to construct an actual bridge.They also translated the idea of role playing being animals to test their bridge. The children’s interest in construction was sustained over the school-term break. Melanie reported that children had applied their mathematical spatial knowledge to a problem with their play area when they returned and found their bike path had disappeared, replaced by a pit flled with sand: The week we came back after the holidays the bike path had disappeared . . . and there was a big pit of sand and the children were saying,‘What can we do, how can we get across this sand?’ So straight away they were building structures, putting planks and things across to try and stop the wheels of the bikes going into the sand. . . .They were trying to get all the other equipment that we had just so they could build something. . . . So the role play was changing as well and they were thinking about structures and things that they could use to help them get across that piece of sand. (Post-lesson teacher interview) In Melanie’s view, the Animal Rescue problem and activities had facilitated deep engagement with curriculum ideas.Through creating a learning environment with a balance of teacher-directed learning and guided enabling play, there had been ‘far more open-ended learning, therefore catering for a wider selection of learning styles. More children were engaged’.

Conclusion Supporting the argument to introduce STEM education so that 21st-century skills are developed, this learning sequence suggests that, particularly in the early years, integrated STEM learning sequences can be a vehicle for introducing specifc mathematical concepts. Despite many early-childhood classrooms not providing the opportunities for children under the age of fve to learn mathematics (Clements & Samara, 2011), in this study, the teacher was able to intentionally support the learning of mathematics in the learning sequence. In Melanie’s kindergarten classroom, the mathematical learning was set in an authentic STEM context so that the learning was engaging for the children.This allowed the children to use their imagination and make meaning as they completed the task.These research fndings concur with research conducted by Lowrie, Larkin and Lewis (2017), who found that spatial reasoning, which is an essential STEM skill, can be successfully developed in the early years. Melanie carefully choreographed the learning so that through the use of a variety of teaching approaches, the children were able to actively engage in learning about STEM. At times, particularly near the beginning of the learning sequence, the teaching was more structured and teacher directed. This allowed Melanie to guide the students’ thinking as they started designing the bridges. As the learning

Learning mathematics through STEM


sequenced unfolded, Melanie created a learning environment that was less structured and where the play was enabled only by her. This allowed the students the freedom to think creatively while still engaging in learning about STEM. Melanie was able to develop specifc mathematical content, and although this was only one small study, the fndings suggest that if the teacher has the pedagogical content knowledge regarding how to teach mathematics, they should be able to use integrated STEM activities to teach children important and specifc mathematical concepts. In this study, the variety of teaching approaches appeared to greatly enhance the effectiveness of the children’s learning.While it appeared that the structured teacher discussion was important, its potential as a teaching approach was realised because it was combined with more child-centred enabling play. This allowed the young children to become fully engaged and make meaning from the learning experience.

References Aubrey, C., Godfrey, R., & Dahl, S. (2006). Early mathematics development and later achievement: Further evidence. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 18(1), 27–46. Brophy, S., Klein, S., Portsmore, M., & Rogers, C. (2008). Advancing engineering education in P-12 classrooms. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(3), 369–387. Bybee, R.W. (2010). Advancing STEM education: A 2020 vision. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 70(1), 30. Casey, B. M., Andrews, N., Schindler, H., Kersh, J. E., Samper, A., & Copley, J. (2008). The development of spatial skills through interventions involving block building activities. Cognition and Instruction, 26(3), 269–309. Clements, D., & Sarama, J. (2011). Early childhood mathematics intervention. Science, 333(6045), 968–970. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. English, L. D. (2016). STEM education K-12: Perspectives on integration. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(1), 3. English, L. D., & King, D.T. (2015). STEM learning through engineering design: Fourthgrade students’ investigations in aerospace. International Journal of STEM Education, 2(1), 14. Erickson, F. (2006). Defnition and analysis of data from videotape: Some research procedures and their rationales. In J. Green, G. Camilli, & P. Elmore (Eds.), Handbook of complementary methods in education research (pp. 177–191). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Associates. Fleer, M. (2013). Play in the early years. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gronlund, G., & Stewart, K. (2011). Intentionality in action: A strategy that benefts preschoolers and teachers. YC Young Children, 66(6), 28. Hom, E. J. (2014).What is STEM education? LiveScience Contributor. Retrieved August 2019 from Husin,W.,Arsad, N. M., Othman, O., Halim, L., Rasul, M. S., Osman, K., & Iksan, Z. (2016). Fostering students’ 21st-century skills through Project Oriented Problem Based Learning (POPBL) in integrated STEM education program. In Asia-Pacifc forum on science learning and teaching (Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 1–18). Hong Kong: The Education University of Hong Kong, Department of Science and Environmental Studies.


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Logan,T., Lowrie,T., & Bateup, C. (2017). Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA): Developing a learning program to inspire curiosity and engagement in STEM concepts in preschool children. In A. Downton, S. Livy, & J. Hall (Eds.), 40Years on:We are still learning! Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. Melbourne,Victoria: MERGA Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. Lowrie,T., Logan,T., & Larkin, K. (2017).The ‘Math’ in STEM practices:The role of spatial reasoning in the early years. In A. Downton, S. Livy, & J. Hall (Eds.), 40 Years on:We are still learning! Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (p. 616). Melbourne,Victoria: MERGA Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. McClure, E. R., Guernsey, L., Clements, D. H., Bales, S. N., Nichols, J., Kendall-Taylor, N., & Levine, M. H. (2017). STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood. Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. New York, NY. Miller, E., & Almon, J. (2009). Crisis in the kindergarten:Why children need to play in school. College Park, MD:Alliance for Childhood (NJ3a). Newton, K. J., & Alexander, P. A. (2013). Early mathematics learning in perspective: Eras and forces of change. In Reconceptualizing early mathematics learning (pp. 5–28). Dordrecht: Springer. O’Halloran, K. (ed.). (2004). Multimodal discourse analysis: Systemic functional perspectives. London: A&C Black. Ring, E.A., Dare, E.A., Crotty, E.A., & Roehrig, G. H. (2017).The evolution of teacher conceptions of STEM education throughout an intensive professional development experience. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 28(5), 444–467. Shaughnessy, J. (2013). Mathematics in a STEM context. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 18(6), 324–324. Thorndike, E. (2013). Educational psychology:Vol. 1:The original nature of man. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Wager, A. (2013). Practices that support mathematics learning in a play-based classroom. In L. English & J. Mulligan (Eds.), Reconceptualizing early mathematics learning (Advances in mathematics education). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-6440-8 Wright, R., Martland, J., & Stafford, A. (2000). Children, numeracy and mathematics recovery. Primary Practice, 4–9. Yin, R. (2009). Case study research design and methods.Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.


Introduction The education sector is being inundated with STEM education programmes, projects and opportunities. This is due mainly to education being recognised as the cornerstone to bringing about change in STEM engagement, knowledge and workforce participation (Education Council, 2015). As part of this, teachers play a pivotal role in the implementation of the STEM agenda, but they cannot do this alone. Relationships and partnerships with relevant industries are essential in addressing the national STEM crisis (Education Council, 2018).While schools are continuously encouraged to engage and network with their community and industry, networking events involving industry partners, the community and education partners are key to successful engagement and innovation, to ensure that current and future STEM needs are met. Networking is one aspect of building relationships, but there are several key factors essential to successful partnerships. It’s one thing to have the contacts, but it is a totally different story to be able to consistently deliver quality projects with tangible outcomes for all involved. Turning contacts and networks into successful partnerships and projects with common goals and visions addressing the STEM skills shortage is a clear goal of government and industry (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014). Throughout this chapter, we will be discussing the Australia Pacifc LNG STEM Central Project (STEM Central Project), which is a partnership between Australia Pacifc LNG and Central Queensland University (CQUniversity). The STEM Central Project established a contemporary STEM facility in Gladstone, Queensland, Australia, to address the national (and international) STEM crisis at the local level for the beneft of the Gladstone community. The STEM Central Project included the development of a physical space and associated educational programmes aimed at upskilling teachers, inspiring school students and engaging


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the Gladstone community in a future fuelled by STEM knowledge and skills. The overall goal of the STEM Central Project was to provide local teachers with the necessary support to effectively engage students with STEM opportunities in a hands-on, problem-based learning environment. The STEM Central Project brought together university academics, teachers, school children, industry and the wider community to enhance the understanding of STEM. This chapter looks at how the partnership between the Gladstone Marina campus of CQUniversity and Australia Pacifc LNG developed, focusing on the elements that made this partnership successful. It details the three critical aspects of a productive partnership – building capacity, shared visions and sustainability – and provides examples of how these have developed over time through the STEM Central Project.The learnings from our project can assist educators and schools in developing successful and mutually benefcial partnerships with industry to promote STEM engagement and learning. Before unpacking these three aspects, the chapter presents relevant literature; the context in which the project took place, including background about the city of Gladstone; and an overview of the industry partner,Australia Pacifc LNG.The chapter then concludes by identifying how these three key success factors may assist teachers, schools, leaders, industry, education institutions and universities to make decisions about genuine partnerships and projects in STEM education.

Context There were several important developments occurring at the time the STEM Central Project was taking shape (2014–2019), which may have contributed to the success of the partnership and project. There was an increasing focus on STEM nationally and an increasing focus on partnerships with education and industry to address the STEM skills shortage. Further, the location of the STEM Central Project, Gladstone, which is in the state of Queensland, in the northeastern corner of Australia, was going through an industry boom, and STEM was frmly on the radar for local industry and the university.These contextual factors will be explored next.

National STEM priority The STEM Central Project was initiated at a time when investment into STEM education and research was being recognised as critical to the future success and growth of Australia.The chief scientist at the time, Ian Chubb, noted ‘international research indicates that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge’ (Offce of the Chief Scientist, 2014, p. 2). Investment into STEM and STEM education was and continues to be a priority for all levels of government, industry and community.There were also several key changes occurring at the Queensland state and Australian federal government levels that further enhanced the momentum around STEM: •

Australian National STEM Agenda pushing for STEM to be taught and understood in schools (Education Council, 2015).

A university-industry STEM partnership

• •


A focus on upskilling teachers’ understanding and knowledge of STEM inquiry-based learning (Education Council, 2015). A focus on innovation and STEM careers across the globe.

While STEM workforce participation was a priority for many, we believe that the STEM crisis involves a shortage of students – the next generation, who will be responsible for our futures – studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Further, we believe that schools and teachers play integral roles in the encouragement of students to engage with STEM at school and in the community. At the same time as the state and federal governments in Australia were focusing on STEM, CQUniversity was acutely aware of the need for a new approach to engagement in STEM education and the need to work in partnership with our local industry to meet local gaps in the STEM workforce. Equally, Australia Pacifc LNG was also aware of the STEM crises at the local level because they were experiencing some diffculties in recruiting in STEM areas.Australia Pacifc LNG also recognised the importance to fostering generational change through education and to improve the STEM skills of the future generations.The combination of government STEM priorities, regional STEM workforce shortages, the industry focus on STEM and the understanding of CQUniversity of the need to enhance teacher capacity in STEM engagement led to a common STEM engagement focus, and in turn, the partnership between the university and industry was created.

STEM partnerships Industry has been working in partnership with education for a long time (Department of Education, 2012). Partnerships between industry, the education sector and the community are crucial in the development of healthy, robust and engaged communities (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006). Industry and the education sector have both recognised the importance of developing partnerships and shared visions to ensure that Australia continues to prosper (Education Council, 2018). Industry recognises that partnerships are the key because they are not experts in education and do not aspire to be. Further, the education sector recognises that STEM education should cater to real-world problems in order to inspire students and that industry is well placed to identify such problems. However, partnerships and projects do not always run smoothly.There is signifcant literature (see Dowling, Powell, & Glendinning, 2004; Hardy, Hudson, & Waddington, 2000; Horton, Prain, & Thiele, 2009) on the components that comprise good partnerships. The Education Council (2018) recognise the signifcance of industry and education partnerships in STEM, which has informed several reports around STEM industry partnerships. Consequently, many industry-education partnerships have developed over the past decade, with some hugely successful and others not necessarily as successful. Inequitable partnerships that are simply tick-thebox exercises where industry throws money at good causes need to be recognised as


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being rarely successful. Likewise, educational institutions that accept funding without having the capacity to deliver quality outcomes with long-standing impacts do little to tackle the issues. For example, our experience with Australia Pacifc LNG took place over a number of years and is based on a real-world problem of wanting to grow a strong workforce and recognising that there were not enough local skilled workers to achieve this goal. Various studies identify different key factors that are important when creating effective partnerships. For example, the Education Council (2018, p. 63) identifes the following factors as being necessary for optimising STEM industry-school partnerships: • • • • • •

Has clear objective and goals. Is well planned. Is sustainable. Is fexible. Is inclusive, with high commitment from participants. Includes arrangements for monitoring and evaluation.

In a similar vein, the Department of Education (2012, p. 1) in Australia identifes seven guiding principles for successful school and business partnerships: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Enhance student learning and outcomes. Beneft both schools and business. Are built on strong foundations (including shared goals, accountability and evaluation). Have the support of the school community. Are embedded in school and business cultures. Have the support of school and business leadership. Are adequately resourced by both schools and business.

Furthermore, research-based studies have generated key elements for the development of successful partnerships. For example, Cordeiro and Kolek (1996, as cited in Merrill & Daugherty, 2010) identify emergent leaders, trust, stability, readiness, common purpose and common agenda as contributing to productive partnerships. Watters and Diezmann (2013) refer to similar factors, such as identifying local leadership, capacity, common interests and purpose. Selkrig and Keamy (2009) adeptly summarise that educational partnerships as opposed to business models rely on trust, respect and collaboration. In drawing on this literature and identifed through our experiences (as expressed through three vignettes presented next), the key elements defning the partnership formed for the STEM Central Project were building capacity, shared vision and sustainability.

Project location The Gladstone region is home to more than 63,000 people and accommodates 21 schools.The regional city of Gladstone itself is located in Central Queensland and

A university-industry STEM partnership


is situated approximately 550 kilometres north of Brisbane, the nearest capital city. The region is diverse, containing seaside, rural and urban communities.The town is home to a range of industries, including the world’s largest alumina refneries, an alumina smelter, a power station, cement and chemical manufacturers and, most recently, liquefed natural gas (LNG) plants on nearby Curtis Island.The gross regional product (GDP) of the area covered by the Gladstone Regional Council is estimated at AU$4.77 billion, which represents 1.5% of the state’s gross state product (NIEIR, 2018). As this background would suggest, the Gladstone region has a strong industrial base, well-developed infrastructure and services where much of the subsequent employment opportunities are based on STEM careers. An analysis of the jobs held by the full-time equivalent local workers in Gladstone Regional Council area in 2017/2018 shows the three largest felds of qualifcation: • • •

Engineering and related technologies (5919 people, or 22.3% of the workforce). Management and commerce (2763 people, or 10.4% of the workforce). Education (1617 people, or 6.1% of the workforce).

In combination, these three felds accounted for 10,299 people in total, or 38.7% of the total working population in the region. In comparison, state-wide, Queensland employed 11.4% in engineering and related technologies, 13.6% in management and commerce and 5.6% in education within a similar time period (ABS, 2016). The Port of Gladstone has eight main centres comprising 20 wharves. These wharf centres service several large business enterprises: • • • • • • •

RG Tanna Coal Terminal, identifed as the world’s ffth largest coal export terminal. Queensland Aluminium, the third largest alumina refnery in the world. NRG Power Station, Queensland’s largest power station. Boyne Smelters Limited,Australia’s largest aluminium smelter. Cement Australia, which has Australia’s largest cement kiln. Orica, one of the world’s largest producers of explosives. Rio Tinto Yarwun, constructed in 1985 and which is the frst green feld alumina refnery constructed worldwide (Cameron, Lewis, & Pfeiffer, 2014).

Against this backdrop of industry, there coexists many important coastal habitats, such as mangroves, saltmarshes, sand and mud banks, coastal reefs, sand dunes and seagrass. For example, as you fy into Gladstone, the viewed landscape is amazing with the shapes and patterns of a World Heritage reef site seen in proximity to the ffth largest alumina refnery in the world, Queensland Alumina Limited (Holden, Pfeiffer, & Jackson, 2017). Gladstone’s history is unique and differentiated from the typical story of the traditional inland mining town due to its coastal location and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. Gladstone has experienced the construction of not one large resource project but many, in a short period of time.As an industrial hub for alumina, coal and a variety of mixed commodity shipping, Gladstone does struggle with its ecological


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credentials given that its shipping industry foats precariously near one of the world’s natural wonders (Holden et al., 2017). The Port of Gladstone, in addition to being Queensland’s largest multi-commodity port and the ffth largest multi-commodity port in Australia, is considered the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, which brings a strong focus on the environmental sciences to the region. Gladstone has experienced these industrial development cycles over many years and has managed to weather them relatively well (Cameron et al., 2014).This unique combination of large resource industries and the World Heritage–listed Great Barrier Reef provide a niche context for local STEM-related issues.

Australia Pacifc LNG Australia Pacifc LNG is Australia’s largest producer of coal seam gas (CSG), supplying Queensland’s domestic gas market and processing CSG into LNG to meet growing export demand.Australia Pacifc LNG has a strong community investment programme that has several key target areas that target both short-term and longterm objectives in the region.The positive impacts on the community of the three LNG plants that were constructed concurrently include the sponsorship of local organisations through their respective social impact management plans.

Central Queensland University CQUniversity delivers over 300 vocational and higher-education courses from the certifcate to the doctorate level. CQUniversity has over 26 delivery sites across fve of the eight Australian states and territories. Standing out from the other Australian universities, CQUniversity is proud to have one of the highest ratios of students who might not have traditionally accessed higher education, such as those from regional communities, low socioeconomic status, mature age, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity and frst-in-family backgrounds. CQUniversity places a strong emphasis on social innovation and global outreach and fosters a number of key partnerships with communities, industry and government, both in Australia and overseas.This commitment to engagement and social advancement has led to CQUniversity being recognised as Australia’s frst and only changemaker campus by Ashoka U, an exclusive global social innovation group made up of only 40 education institutions in the world (CQUni, n.d.). CQUniversity Gladstone Marina campus has a strong focus on engineering, environmental sciences and STEM education. Over the years, CQUniversity Gladstone Marina campus has developed local relationships and many partnerships with industries, government and community organisations, the case study presented in this chapter (with Australia Pacifc LNG) being one of those many partnerships.

Partnerships The following section of this chapter draws on the development and implementation of the STEM Central Project as a case study of a successful partnership

A university-industry STEM partnership


between the education sector (in this case, a university) and industry to address STEM education and engagement at a local level.Throughout the process of developing the STEM Central Project and the partnership with Australia Pacifc LNG, we identifed three key critical factors that we believe led to the success and longevity of the partnership and the project 1 2 3

Building capacity. A shared vision. Sustainability.

Using narrative accounts in the form of vignettes, these three considerations will be explored in detail through the remainder of this chapter.

Consideration 1: building capacity From our experience, the notion of capacity captures expertise, reliability and reputation.To both build and communicate that capacity requires action, not just discussions. It involves problem-solving to fnd relevant links in the local area to enable connections with other consistently reliable people in organisations, industries and schools.We have observed and learned frst-hand that it is important to consistently deliver good-quality outcomes.When considering entering into a partnership, signifcant refection is needed to determine whether you have the capacity to deliver and the expertise required for the project because your reputation grows (or not) from this. The following vignette describes some of the ways that the frst author intentionally built capacity as a precursor to the development of the STEM Central Project and subsequent partnership with Australia Pacifc LNG.

VIGNETTE 1: BUILDING CAPACITY (2014–2016) From Linda’s perspective My background is as a secondary science teacher in regional New South Wales, one of Australia’s eastern states. I have experience teaching and leading in primary and secondary schools in public (government-operated), Catholic and independent school systems. I grew up in a regional location, so I am aware of the challenges faced by science teachers in this context. After studying my masters’ degree and then doctorate in science education, I started working at CQUniversity. I was fortunate to be selected for the early-career researcher (ECR) programme. This programme sparked interest in me and gave me the understanding of what to do, how to put myself out there and how to achieve awards and recognition for my expertise.


Linda Pfeiffer and Kathryn Tabone

From my experience as a science educator and from speaking with and working with local teachers in Gladstone, I realised there were many primary school teachers who were seeking assistance with teaching science. At the time, I also came to understand the challenges faced by these primary science teachers in gaining access to resources, quality professional development opportunities, confdence and support to teach science using inquiry and hands-on, student-centred approaches. I knew that the problem was not going to be addressed by one-off projects and interventions. I frmly believed that there needed to be a local solution with the help of other, local organisations. I knew that research had to be a part of the solution to identify what was working, what impacts it was making and the outcomes of the projects. I started discussing my ideas and thoughts on how to address teachers’ confdence, STEM engagement and the local STEM skills crises. I spoke about it every chance I could get; I wrote about it; I did interviews with media about it. I decided that to change the system, I had to lead and bring people along with my vision. I knew I had the knowledge from my experience, that I was highly motivated and that I had the capacity to achieve results. I entered FameLab (which is a science communication competition aimed at young science and engineering communicators) in 2014 to try to tell the story of the issues facing primary science teachers and the need for investment into science education, particularly in primary schools in regional Australia. I was one of the Queensland state fnalists. I went on to apply for and win awards and intentionally engaged with media coverage as much as possible. I began to develop a reputation for delivering quality outcomes for teachers (and students) and for developing and conducting many events with funding from a variety of sources, including industries and local organisations. In 2016, I won the Women in STEM Research Prize. It was Australia Pacifc LNG who approached me with a question: ‘What is your vision for STEM education in Gladstone?’ The willingness of this particular industry partner to take a role and invest in the future was crucial to the success of the STEM Central Project. They were willing to invest in STEM education through me because I had built capacity through my reputation of expertise and of reliability in achieving quality results.

Given the nature of successful university-industry partnerships and this vignette, we will next provide three insights that are based on our experiences in this context and relevant to the notion of building capacity.

Expertise The ability to attract funding and partnerships for the STEM Central Project has been largely due to the knowledge and experience of the team, which includes

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subject-specifc expertise, qualifcations, experience in STEM education and a willingness to put ourselves out in the public. As detailed in the vignette, the experience and expertise came, for Linda, from actually working and researching in the education feld, including being the institutional team leader on a large regional university consortium project titled It’s part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education (Woolcott et al., 2017). Completing a doctorate in STEM education ultimately provided the team with expertise and understanding of factors impacting on STEM education. Further, CQUniversity’s connection with local schools and networking with teachers and industry enabled us to understand the complexity in teacher’s confdence in the STEM curriculum and the STEM skills shortage. When we advocated for the need to develop and support teachers to develop a STEM-based curriculum in an engaging and innovative way, industry listened. We identifed the resources required to assist teachers understand STEM education, develop curriculum and evaluate outcomes.We designed a project with the purpose of enhancing educators’ confdence and skills in teaching STEM subjects using inquiry-based teaching through intensive and refective professional development. Our collective expertise and understanding of STEM education gave industry the confdence to believe in both the proposal and the delivery of a quality project. With all of this in mind, when we indicated that a STEMbased facility was required in the local area for teachers to attend, learn and use, industry agreed.

Reliability In all likelihood, readers of this chapter would have been part of many good conversations about STEM and ways to improve the education system. In these conversations, usually ideas are brainstormed, questions are posed and required actions are discussed. However, anecdotally, we know that without a reliable leader who has the capacity to deliver, these discussions typically don’t progress any further. CQUniversity Gladstone Marina campus has participated in and lead STEM projects over several years. Smaller projects lead to bigger projects and funding opportunities. Successfully implementing projects has contributed to our status as being reliable and able to develop and deliver quality STEM education projects and programmes with tangible outcomes in the local community. By intentionally setting out to build capacity, what started with discussions ended up with the development of further partnerships that resulted in larger successful projects.The development of the STEM Central Project came from the planning, developing and delivering of many STEM engagement activities in the local area.We worked hard to be reliable and be able to deliver on projects and programmes in STEM. Over a number of years, we consistently developed productive relationships with local industry and delivered STEM engagement projects well.These projects enabled us to build relationships, build our capacity and be recognised as an organisation that could deliver quality STEM engagement programmes locally.


Linda Pfeiffer and Kathryn Tabone

Reputation Reputation is a core component considered by people when determining whom to partner with. A strong reputation was important to the development of the STEM Central Project both within the university and from Australia Pacifc LNG.The university was looking for a reputable partner who had a commitment to the local community.Australia Pacifc LNG were looking for a project lead who knew the issues and was committed to local STEM education. As mentioned in the vignette, the project lead had understood the importance of reputation and of building a track record. In the university context, this involves not only publishing journal articles and book chapters but also presenting at conferences to share the expert knowledge and skills with relevant audiences.To reach the target audience of this project – teachers, parents, community and industry – the reach needs to go even further, and this is where awards nominations and media appearances are also critical components of building capacity and reputation. Critical to the success of the partnership was the reputation of each partner’s organisation and a genuine commitment to STEM education and learning. In summary, both partners have built capacity through expertise, reliability and reputation collectively leading to an effective and sustainable partnership. Building capacity involves building a strong reputation for expertise and reliability, which are important factors in this successful partnership.Through the tools provided during the ECR programme, we were able to intentionally build capacity.When attending networking events or generally being present in the community discussing STEM education and our visions, it was important that we had the confdence in our expertise and capacity so that we could develop relationships leading to effective partnerships.

Consideration 2: a shared vision A productive and positive shared vision focuses on creating a culture and ecosystem where both parties work together to ensure mutual success based on their trust and respect for each other and the partnership. It also involves developing guiding principles together that provide a common ground from which to develop the goals of the partnership. From our experience, having a shared vision is the second key factor that we believe contributed to the successful partnership between CQUniversity and Australia Pacifc LNG in the STEM Central Project.The following vignette describes a critical moment in the relationship with Australia Pacifc LNG and how having a shared vision and being able to communicate that vision were important in enacting the STEM Central Project in a way that met the needs and goals of both parties.

VIGNETTE 2: A SHARED VISION (2016–2018) From Linda’s perspective Australia Pacifc LNG was invested in both the local area and STEM expertise. They knew the solution had to be local and sustainable and as such were not

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looking at one-off projects and events when it came to STEM education. They believed in innovation and were willing to support new methods to achieve results, especially when they were based on expertise in the feld of STEM education and engagement. Australia Pacifc LNG believed in the vision of the STEM Central Project, to undertake professional development with local primary school teachers in a purpose-built facility, and they also recognised the importance of research to infuence the ways we embed STEM in learning and teaching and identify ways to improve STEM engagement. When Australia Pacifc LNG asked me what my vision for STEM education in Gladstone was, I thought for a minute and then described a room consisting of six booths where teachers could conduct lessons using inquiry-based approaches and student-centred hands-on pedagogies. I explained that to increase the number of people in STEM careers, we would have to start with the children. Teachers and parents are the main infuencers of children, so the room would need to be targeted at teachers and the whole of the community. For every primary school teacher that is impacted by a workshop in the STEM Central Project facility, there is a potential direct impact on at least 25 children per year as opposed to investing in one scholarship for one female engineer. Over time, we worked together to make the vision a reality. The six booths became seven zones; the university allocated space on the campus in Gladstone; and designers were brought on board to develop a plan. A critical moment in the relationship was when the designer provided the design and quote, which came to the total agreed initial funding amount. My response was to cut back on the design to allow funds for staffng the project. Australia Pacifc LNG recognised the state-of-the-art design and that there was no use in having a facility without support to implement the programmes. Further funding was negotiated to allow the design to be maintained as well as resources allocated to implement the project to a high-quality standard. These discussions required mutual respect, honesty and transparency. In 2018, the STEM Central Project facility was opened.

Three insights from our experience that are relevant to this context are provided next.

Shared vision In determining the shared vision, the goals of both Australia Pacifc LNG and CQUniversity needed to be considered. It was not an easy task to ensure both parties were on the same page. The development of shared goals involved many meetings, listening to each other and having the confdence to talk about the vision. There would have been more than 40 meetings over a three-year period. In the end, the STEM Central Project facility became seven brightly coloured zones and


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resources that are used for research into embedding STEM into the Australian curriculum: science (ACARA, 2019) and the community engagement events.The alignment of the industry vision and our vision at the local level was crucial to the success of the project.

Communication Communication needs to be clear. In developing the shared vision, each partner needed to be able to communicate clearly what was required. We had to be able to communicate clearly what the project was, who was to be involved and the resources required. Again, it was not easy to communicate, particularly when the discussions involved funding. However, being able to have conversations in a relaxed atmosphere of mutual respect that evolved over time by meeting regularly allowed for open talk regarding what we both wanted from the vision and what the vision could look like.

Transparency Transparency in this context refers to honesty in the relationship.When developing the shared goals and ensuring that our visions aligned, we both had to be able to trust each other.This came from having the capacity to deliver over time and being open and frank in discussions.There was a mutual respect in the relationship so that we could recognise the importance of the project to the industry, and likewise, they could respect our strengths and capacity for the success of the project and what we were hoping to achieve. Transparency was evident in the critical point described in the vignette when the delicate matter of funding required for the state-of-theart facility had to be approached. By communicating truthfully about what was required for the shared vision to become a reality, the mutual goals were achieved. This vignette touches on some key aspects of having a shared vision, such as listening to the needs of the partner and clearly communicating the vision and goals of the educational institution.A shared vision in this context was an important component of the successful partnership because if both parties were not on the same page or did not have mutual respect and trust then the investment into the project would not have taken place.

Consideration 3: sustainability We think about sustainability as maintaining the motivation and drive to ensure the success of a project and as building and adapting the project to guarantee its ongoing success. Building momentum with the schools about the research project was important for viability and the implementation of the STEM Central Project. Remaining focused and building connections was a key target for the second and third year of the project. It was during this time, through the conversations and engagement, that the scope of the project broadened and the project grew beyond

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the sole aim of a teacher professional development research project.The development of this planned approach with a central facility, core partners and funding has led to the success of the project and the ongoing sustainability of the project. Further, this engagement element has contributed to the motivation and sustainability of the project due to the impact that the STEM Central Project has had on the local community.This broadening of the project and its impact on the motivation and ongoing project sustainability is discussed in this section. The following vignette provides an overview of the evolution of the STEM Central Project and some of the lessons about motivation, adaptability and sustainability.

VIGNETTE 3: SUSTAINABILITY (2018–2019) From Kathryn’s perspective The construction of the STEM Central Project facility was a huge achievement. There were many challenges along the way in the design and construction of the facility. There were budget constraints, design issues and timing concerns; however, the motivation and commitment of the project team to design and construct a facility that would enable the STEM Central Project to be a fresh approach to science teaching held frm. The STEM Central Project facility offcially opened on 23 August 2018, and a whirlwind of activities followed. Although the STEM Central Project was focused on the teacher’s professional development research, it also presented an opportunity to further enhance STEM engagement in the Gladstone region. We knew our industry partner had invested a signifcant amount of funding into the project, and it was the project team’s responsibility to ensure the success of the project. We wanted the project to have an impact, and we knew there was a wide interest in STEM education and engagement. We believed that the STEM Central Project presented a great opportunity for community engagement in STEM, and it was critical to ensure that the room was used to ensure the industry partner saw the impact of their investment both on the teachers and students and in the wider community. Our industry partner wanted the facility to be used and stipulated that there was to be no charge for the use of the facility or the equipment. It was up to us as a project team to make sure that the facility was highly used and that the community was engaged in STEM education. In the design and construction phase, we developed an engagement plan and set about talking to schools, the community and businesses about the STEM Central Project. We held workshops, attended community meetings, gave presentations for industry and business groups and spoke to the local media about the STEM Central Project. The aim of this engagement was to


Linda Pfeiffer and Kathryn Tabone

ensure that the Gladstone community knew about this fantastic new resource and in turn used the facility. A key learning from this stage of the project was to ensure that all the engagement work that was occurring, sometimes four events in one week, was documented. To do to this, we created a reader-friendly book of all our events and activities with key statistics regarding outcomes, numbers and agencies involved. About six months after the opening of the facility, we hosted a number of international dignitaries from our industry partner. We knew that we had been busy with events and the research project over the past six months, but at this meeting, we presented the number of events, activities, STEM national programmes and professional development activities that had been held at the STEM Central Project facility in the frst six months and what was already booked in for next 12 months. At this meeting, the reach and breadth of STEM learning opportunities really dawned on the team and our industry partner. The impact of this project was conveyed in an honest and meaningful way. The team was recognised for their drive, vision and achievements. At this time, we started our discussion with our industry partner about developing the facility and project further over the next three years and about the sustainability of the project. We have recently been successful in gaining a further three years of funding (2020 to 2022) to continue to implement the project, take the subsequent research into the wider community engagement area and continue the schools-based research.

In light of this vignette, three insights relevant to continuing motivation and creating sustainability in STEM partnerships are provided next.

Driver For the partnership to be successful, there needs to be a driver of the project and champion for the project, both internally and externally. In this instance, this person was the project lead on the STEM Central Project. As described, there were many occasions when the project lead went out to speak about the project with schools, businesses and the community to ensure the success of the project. Internally, there were obstacles to overcome with the design and construction, but the project lead’s continued drive and passion for the project ensured the timely construction and launch of the facility and research project.There were many barriers and obstacles to overcome in the development of the funding contract, but the project lead was determined to create change in the local area in STEM education.The success of the STEM Central Project can be attributed to the entire community’s engagement in STEM education.Throughout the short time when the STEM Central Project

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facility has been open, there have been many activities and events held at the facility that were not anticipated.Through the promotion of the facility, we have garnered national and international interest in the research programme and activities.

Adaptability The project team’s adaptability to change and to seek opportunities to ensure the success of the project and partnership was crucial to the sustainability of the project. As the third vignette illustrates, the original scope of the project has broadened to include more community engagement in STEM and also to attract other national and international STEM programmes. Being adaptable and fexible in our approach to STEM education has seen the project be recognised by industry and government. In the short time it has been open, several government bodies, politicians, industry representatives and STEM leaders, such as the Queensland chief scientist, have visited the STEM Central Project and were highly impressed by the range and impact of the programmes and the activities at the facility.Without the adaptability of the project team to enhance the scope of the project, the sustainability of the project would not have been as secured.The activities and programmes held as part of the STEM Central Project and the research component have been successful.The number of people who have been to the STEM Central Project facility since its opening was not anticipated but has been fully supported and well received by our industry partner.The success of the teacher’s professional development research project and the STEM engagement has contributed to the sustainability of the project, which has now been aided by the recent funding announcement from our industry partner.

Determination and persistence A core component of a successful and sustainable partnership is determination and persistence. From the original discussions, it was two years until the opening of the facility.This passing of time is highlighted across the three narratives provided in this chapter. As the third vignette illustrates, there was an additional component added into the scope of the project that added a signifcant amount of new work in the development of programmes and activities for the community. The project team worked through the barriers and obstacles in undertaking community engagement activities in the STEM Central Project facility and were determined to ensure that all the community could engage with STEM in a fun and interesting way. STEM education and engagement was the objective and the team worked hard to facilitate this.There is often a lag time in projects, between securing funding and project design, construction and implementation. We know that during this time, some of the initial enthusiasm often wanes. Aware of this, the CQUniversity project team concentrated on building interest in the project and the new facility, during the design and construction phase. The team worked hard to continue to foster connections with schools and the community, to ensure the successful delivery of the research project


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In summary, motivation and drive are key to keeping partnerships on track. As described, it was two years between the initial discussion and the completion of the STEM Central Project facility, and the project team needed to stay motivated and driven to ensure that when the facility opened the project would be set to go and to keep moving forward. Project sustainability is the objective of most projects and partnerships, and being able to adapt and innovate often enables the ongoing sustainability of programmes. In the development of this planned approach, while being fexible and adaptable with a central facility, core partner and funding has led to the success of the project and ongoing sustainability.

Conclusion This chapter has presented three key factors that should be considered when forming and maintaining successful STEM partnerships. From our experience, the partnership between CQUniversity and Australia Pacifc LNG provides a case study to describe and understand these three factors in practice. While the Education Council (2018) provides a list of existing frameworks and guides for successful partnerships, including the schools-industry partnership framework and the guiding principles for school–business relationships, from our experience, having the capacity and expertise, being reliable and being able to communicate clear objectives are some of the keys to successful industry partnerships. If we were to summarise this learning into actions, they would be the following: • • •

Listen to what your partner wants. Be clear on the outputs from both parties. Deliver success and celebrate each other’s successes.

Following on from the success of this project, multiple opportunities have presented themselves to the STEM Central Project team.These include projects and partnerships with state and federal governments and organisations, research institutes, education institutions, industry and the community. Building capacity and having honesty and trust in relationships has resulted in more opportunities to meet and listen to stakeholders in the community. Invitations to events, celebrations, guest speakers, panellists and award nominations are all important ways to increase respect in relationships. This case study started with building capacity and how this could be achieved and then went on to identify how the partners worked together to create a shared vision. Finally, the chapter described the motivations to sustain a partnership. Partnering with universities, business and industry is important to make sure our teachers and students are connected to cutting-edge developments in STEM felds and disciplines. Strengthening these relationships will see students engaged with the rich world of the STEM community and inspired to be the creators of Queensland’s future (Department of Education, 2016).

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By sharing these three key success factors of capacity, a shared vision and sustainability, teachers, schools, leaders, industry, education institutions and universities will hopefully be more informed in the decision-making around genuine partnerships and projects in STEM education. Partnerships are important in STEM education because they can enable the development of real-world contexts for STEM projects for the classroom by using experts in their felds and allowing authentic learning to take place. Partnerships are not just about obtaining funding but about collaborating with the entire community to address the STEM skills shortages and enable children to think critically, problem-solve and inquire for a sustainable future for society.

References Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016).Theme: Field of qualifcation. Retrieved from www.abs. Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2019). F-10 curriculum science. Retrieved from Cameron, R., Lewis, J., & Pfeiffer, L. (2014).The FIFO experience: A Gladstone case study. Australian Bulletin of Labour, 40(2), 221–241. Commonwealth of Australia. (2006). Community engagement and development. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Commonwealth of Australia. (2014). Industry innovation and competitiveness agenda. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. CQUni. (n.d.). About Central Queensland university. Retrieved from about-us/about-cquniversity Department of Education. (2012). Guiding principles for schools-business relationships. Retrieved from Department of Education. (2016). Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland. Retrieved from Dowling, B., Powell, M., & Glendinning, C. (2004). Conceptualising successful partnerships. Health & Social Care in the Community, 12, 309–317. Education Council. (2015). National STEM school strategy: A comprehensive plan for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Australia. Melbourne,Victoria: Education Services Australia. Education Council. (2018). Optimising STEM industry-school partnership: Inspiring Australia’s next generation fnal report. Melbourne,Victoria: Education Services Australia. Hardy, B., Hudson, B., & Waddington, E. (2000). What makes a good partnership? A partnership assessment tool. Leeds: Nuffeld Institute for Health, Community Care Division. Holden, H., Pfeiffer, L., & Jackson, E. (2017, June 8–10). Seagrass and aluminium are strange bedfellows:A science-art collaboration via the power of STEAM. Paper presented at the STEM/STEAM Education Conference, Hawaii University International Conferences, Honolulu, Hawaii. Horton, D., Prain, G., & Thiele, G. (2009). Perspectives on partnership: A literature review. International Potato Center (CIP),Working Paper, Lima, Peru. Merrill, C., & Daugherty, J. (2010). STEM education and leadership:A mathematics and science partnership approach. Journal of Technology Education, 21(2), 21–34.


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National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR). (2018). Gladstone economic profle. Retrieved from Offce of the Chief Scientist. (2014). Science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Australia’s future. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government. Selkrig, M., & Keamy, R. (2009). Beyond borderlines: Universities extending their role in fostering creative partnerships within communities. The International Journal of Learning, 16(3), 186–196. Watters, J., & Diezmann, C. (2013). Community partnerships for fostering student interest and engagement in STEM. Journal of STEM Education, 14(2), 47–55. Woolcott, G., Scott,A., Norton, M.,Whannell, R., Galligan, L., Marshman, M., . . .Wines, C. (2017). It’s part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education: Final report. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

6 ONLINE CITIZEN SCIENCE IN THE CLASSROOM Engaging with real science and STEM to develop capabilities for citizenship Dayle Anderson, Markus Luczak-Roesch, Cathal Doyle, Yevgeniya (Jane) Li, Brigitte Glasson, Cameron Pierson, Dianne Christenson, Carol Brieseman, Melissa Coton and Matt Boucher Background and context Globally, volunteers have been actively engaging with professional scientists in scientifc work since the 1700s (Raddick et al., 2009). Such participation by members of the public is termed citizen science and has become a common phenomenon, including in Australia and New Zealand, in recent years. Depending on the nature of the project, volunteers assist with data collection, data processing, data analysis and interpretation, or the dissemination of results, following a protocol developed by the professional scientist (Doyle et al., 2018). Many schools are now using citizen science as a means of engaging students in STEM subjects, often through participation in local environmental projects. Citizen science has also moved onto online platforms, which means that more volunteers from further afeld have opportunities to participate in scientifc investigations.This is called online citizen science (OCS), and it occurs where the tasks to be completed are aided, or completely mediated, through the Internet (Doyle et al., 2018). In many such projects, the citizen scientists have to acquire specifc skills such as distinguishing between complex patterns or identifying and classifying objects in a series of images.Through this approach, volunteers contribute their time to assisting scientists in analysing large quantities of data. Participants in OCS projects learn about scientifc challenges and develop scientifc skills (Hassman, Mugar, Østerlund, & Jackson, 2013;Tinati, Luczak-Roesch, Simperl, & Hall, 2016). Participation also fosters the public’s understanding of science (Hassman et al., 2013; Nov,Arazy, & Anderson, 2011; Raddick et al., 2009). In New Zealand, rather than having an explicit focus on STEM education as in Australia, the government’s Nation of Curious Minds initiative has focused on improving engagement in science and technology. Recently, the position of digital technologies in the technology area of the New Zealand curriculum has also been


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strengthened to ensure opportunities for all to become digitally capable and ‘innovative creators of digital solutions’ (Ministry of Education, 2017, p. 1).The Nation of Curious Minds has the following intended outcomes: • • •

More science and technology-competent learners and more choosing STEMrelated career pathways. A more scientifcally and technologically engaged public and a more publicly engaged science sector. A more skilled workforce and more-responsive science and technology. (MBIE), 2014, p. 7)

To help meet these aims, substantial targeted funding has supported the generation of many collaborations between the public, scientists and technologists investigating locally important problems (Curious Minds, n.d.). A key focus of the initiative has also been to develop the scientifc literacy of young New Zealanders (MBIE, 2014). This aligns with the stated purpose for science in the New Zealand curriculum (NZC), which is to enable students to ‘participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a signifcant role’ (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 17).To address this aim, the science capabilities for citizenship were developed to help teachers build students’ functional understanding of the nature of science, which is a compulsory and overarching strand of the science learning area of the NZC (Bull, 2015; Ministry of Education, 2007).There are fve science capabilities: 1 2 3 4 5

Gathering and interpreting data. Using evidence. Critiquing evidence. Interpreting representations. Engaging with science.

The lattermost involves using the other four capabilities as students take an interest in science-related issues and make decisions about possible responses and actions (Ministry of Education, n.d.). In the Australian curriculum (AC), these science capabilities would be captured under the strands of science as a human endeavour and science inquiry skills.The intent of school science, from the AC perspective, is for students to understand and appreciate science as a way of knowing and being (ACARA, 2014). STEM education in New Zealand therefore involves developing innovation and capabilities for citizenship while building digital capacity.The NZC specifes aims and objectives for each learning area but also expects that ‘all learning should make use of the natural connections that exist between learning areas’ (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 16). Holmlund, Lesseig and Slavit (2018) identifed a set of attributes commonly associated with STEM education that ft the way it is implemented in New Zealand, and it is used as the basis for this chapter.These STEM-focused

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attributes include learning experiences that incorporate multiple disciplines, usually within a real-world problem-based context, with an emphasis on students’ use of relevant innovative technologies. STEM professionals are often involved in connecting school learning with problem-solving and careers. These features are attributes of the stories that we share about how OCS enhanced STEM learning and teaching in primary classrooms in ways that supported the development of capabilities for citizenship. As a team, we wondered about the potential of OCS to support such learning. Our team, comprising information systems and science education researchers and four primary teachers, had developed because Markus, one of the researchers, had previous experience with OCS and wanted to explore its potential in formal learning (Tinati et al., 2016). OCS appeared to hold much potential for meeting curriculum aims, and the range of OCS projects available could also enable learning about contexts not usually accessible in classrooms. Additionally, New Zealand primary education, as in Australia, frequently occurs within fexible and digitally focused learning environments that provide for individual student choice. So we developed a research project, funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative, to explore the use and impact of OCS in New Zealand primary classrooms (see Luczak-Roesch et al. (2019) for the fnal report). In this chapter, we describe the opportunities for STEM learning and teaching that teachers developed from the incorporation of OCS projects, with a focus on developing science capabilities for citizenship.

Using OCS in primary classrooms: teacher stories The four primary teachers were collaborators in the project. They were generalist teachers that had participated in the Science Teaching Leadership Programme (Royal Society – Te Apārangi, n.d.), spending six months working in a science organisation alongside scientists while undertaking professional development in science education and leadership.They were therefore familiar with the intentions of the NZC in relation to science education. As part of our project, we had identifed a list of OCS projects that would relate to NZC. Each teacher chose a different OCS project from this list that related to a unit that they were planning to teach. They independently planned how they would include the OCS and identifed the learning that could be developed from it and then implemented the unit, which typically ran over six weeks.The stories are drawn from an analysis of the teachers’ written refections before, during and after the implementation of the OCS-related unit, their planning documents, researchers’ observations of the lessons where the OCS was introduced and used by students and student questionnaires and focus group interviews following the unit. The stories of the four teachers are shared next and provide insights into the educational context, engagement with the OCS project, what the children learned, and the other STEM opportunities that may have been evident in these learning and teaching sequences.


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Story 1: Identify New Zealand Animals Carol’s year fve and six class (students aged nine to 11 years) had been working with a local conservation group to reduce predators threatening native species in their area. They had been using tracking tunnels to identify predators around the school and were considering where to best set traps to catch them. The focus of the unit, which ran for six weeks, was on local animal identifcation and behaviour. Carol wanted her 25 students to learn how to make observations and collect data about animal pests. She also wanted them to understand how scientists collect data and make observations and appreciate how technology can assist in making these observations. In particular, she hoped her students would develop an understanding of Kaitiakitanga, which is a Maori concept of guardianship for the land and living things. She selected an OCS project called Identify New Zealand Animals (Anton, Hartley, & Wittmer, n.d.). This project aims to understand the impact that introduced mammalian predators, such as rats and stoats, have on New Zealand urban environments. The scientist who instigated the project had amassed thousands of photos taken by motion-activated cameras in wooded areas around different cities. Citizen scientists assisted by detecting and classifying animals in the photos. Carol thought this OCS related strongly to what the students were doing in their pest unit and would provide them with opportunities to develop several of the science capabilities for citizenship, as outlined in Table 6.1.

Engaging in OCS Table 6.1 summarises how the OCS supported capability development. Carol’s actions supported this learning. Because the scientist running the project happened to live locally, Carol invited him into class. He showed the students the motiondetecting camera and took them through the website tutorial and the process of classifying the animals in photos, including diffcult identifcations where he explicitly helped students to consider scale. The class did several classifcations together, before working independently in small teacher-selected groups on the website. Meeting the scientist proved to be a key aspect because it provided a strong personal connection to the OCS project for the children, leading to them wanting to help him. Personal connection with scientists has been considered important in sustaining engagement in citizen science projects (Gallo & Waitt, 2011). Students were observed on the frst day jotting down the website so that they could work on it at home. As Carol noted in a mid-project refection, ‘When we started this (six weeks ago) the project was just over 50% complete.A couple of boys raced up to me this morning, telling me that today it is on 99%!’ She observed that ‘healthy competition between peers, siblings, and friends’ developed, with discussions each morning on what they had observed out of class time. The students also wanted to get it right for the scientist because accuracy mattered. Carol noticed this early on and highlighted how to record on the website the degree of certainty in the classifcation. She also used this opportunity to ask students to think about why it was important for scientists to make reliable identifcations, thus linking this practice explicitly to science. She added to their

Online citizen science in the classroom 83 TABLE 6.1 Learning from Identify New Zealand Animals

Science capability

Carol’s intended student learning

How the OCS project supported learning

Gather and interpret data

Students other online citizen scientists will be making observations and recording data to gather evidence about pests in the local area.

Critique evidence

Students will see how others’ observations are also considered and used in making accurate evaluations.

Engage with science

Students will understand the importance of what they are doing as online citizen scientists and how they are contributing to a real-life data-gathering project.

The animals in the photos were often indistinct, requiring careful observation. The degree of certainty of the identifcation also needed to be recorded. The OCS required participants to state the degree of reliability in their identifcations. Groups discussed their decisions as they worked on the task. Carol highlighted the reliability choices on the OCS and their signifcance. The scientist described how volunteers’ decisions were processed depending on the range of identifcations for an image. Carol connected the students with the scientist who designed the OCS and explained their contribution. She referred to students as citizen scientists. The completion bar indicating the percentage of images identifed incentivised student participation.

understanding by connecting it with integrity, which was a school value familiar to students. She often referred to students as citizen scientists, making a clear connection between their behaviours, practices and the discipline of science.

What the children learned Working with the OCS meant that children had frst-hand experience at interpreting scientifc data. Images were often indistinct or blurred, and issues of scale were commonly debated. A notable proportion of the children (9/25) responded that as a result of their participation, they became better at observing carefully. Carol noted that ‘much care was taken with observations’. The children were thoughtful about


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their decisions and when to use the ‘uncertain’ option when entering their identifcation.The use of the OCS fostered important discussions about reliability.The students talked positively about their experience but highlighted the repetition involved in this process. Regardless, they believed that they needed to persevere to help the scientist.This in itself is an important understanding about the nature of scientifc work. Appreciating that scientists strive for accuracy while coping with uncertainty is useful as a citizen engaging with scientifc information.This learning addresses aspects of understanding about science, part of the nature of science strand of NZC. Some children (8/25) also said that by using the OCS, they learned about animals and their identifcation, which addresses curriculum expectations regarding classifcation in the living world strand of NZC. The students were also developing their capability as citizens to engage with science, using evidence to take action on an issue.They were using ‘their growing science knowledge when considering issues of concern to them’ and making ‘decisions about possible actions’ (Ministry of Education, 2007).

Other STEM opportunities As well as the science learning and authentic mathematics opportunities to learn about scale emerging from the use of the OCS, students were developing their technological awareness and capability. The students had to navigate their way to and around the website with the accurate use of a URL, which was a challenge for some initially.They also learned about the use of motion-triggered cameras as tools for data collection, and there were several questions for the scientist about how the cameras worked. Carol also created opportunities for STEM learning as part of the wider unit. Students gathered statistical data about the number, type and location of animal pests that were observed in the tracking tunnels that they had made and placed around the school.They were required to interpret these data to decide where to place traps. She used Designed for Good (Cleaver, 2017) from the School Journal, a Ministry of Education reading resource provided free to schools in NZ, as preparation for a technology trap design task. The article described the design stages, starting with the frst idea through to choosing materials, planning, developing prototypes, struggles and failures and the fnal, successful, trap.This article promoted highly productive discussion about the design process and stimulated children to develop and justify their own designs for humane traps for the pests prevalent in their locality.This STEM activity was authentic and integrated knowledges to inform students’ understanding about and actions towards a local issue that was part of a national problem: the conservation of native species through the identifcation and eradication of introduced predators.They worked alongside other members of the local and scientifc community to help address this problem.

Story 2: The Plastic Tide Dianne worked with a vertical grouping of 62 students from across years three to six (students aged six to ten years).Their school has a strong focus on Kaitiakitanga,

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especially caring for their local environment. In the 20-week unit, which included the use of the OCS, the children were studying the health of the stream that ran past their school and fowed to a local beach and identifying ways to help protect it. Dianne identifed the OCS project The Plastic Tide (Kohler, n.d.) as having strong potential in helping her students consider the impact of plastic waste in their stream. People contributing to this OCS identifed and classifed plastic items in photos of beaches from across the world (not just in New Zealand) taken by drones. The purpose of this project, now closed, was to assist engineers in designing and refning machine learning algorithms that will aid in detecting and monitoring plastics washed up on beaches. The actions of the volunteers in identifying and classifying the plastics helped to train the algorithm. Dianne anticipated that participating in the OCS would address the understanding about science sub-strand of the nature of science strand of the NZC by helping students understand how scientists use observations to help answer questions about the world. She intended to also address the living world strand by developing their understanding about how humans have changed the stream habitat and water quality.This understanding would then support students to address the participating and contributing aspect of the nature of science strand by identifying and refecting on actions to help protect waterways. She identifed the following science capabilities for citizenship as a focus for development, as depicted in Table 6.2.

Engaging in OCS Again, teacher actions were important in developing learning in connection with the OCS.To introduce the OCS, Dianne showed photos of different plastic items, discussed their properties and passed around a jar containing tiny pieces of plastic of the kind that might be washed up on beaches or ingested by marine animals. She also brought in bags of sand collected from the local beach.The children worked in groups, sorting and sifting through the sand, grouping and counting the plastics and other items they found. Dianne roved and modelled careful sifting and observation, TABLE 6.2 Learning from The Plastic Tide

Science capability

Dianne’s intended student learning

How the OCS project supported learning

Gather and interpret data

Children are using photographs to identify plastic waste.

Engage with science

The Plastic Tide OCS project will help them link local issues with the global problems that plastic waste is creating.

Images needed careful observation to frst fnd an object and then to identify whether it was plastic. Children were identifying plastic waste in images from beaches worldwide.


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emphasising differences between the natural and unnatural materials that the children were fnding in their samples. The OCS project was then introduced. Students moved to a computer room and worked in small groups on computers with large screens. Although they were keen to start, some students, especially younger ones, had trouble accessing the site and locating the plastics in the images. Dianne quickly recognised the trouble students were having: The younger (year 3) children had diffculty identifying some plastics and accurately mapping them.To remedy this, we used a tuakana/teina1 model of support with our senior students helping younger students. . . .We repeated the exercise and they gained both confdence and control. The initial diffculty highlights opportunities for connecting with other aspects of STEM through OCS use, in this case developing basic digital skills such using URLs and manipulating the mouse. Contributing to the OCS was only one small part of the inquiry unit, which had a much broader focus and purpose, as in the previous story, indicating that while OCS provides valuable opportunities for learning, it is best embedded as part of a range of experiences to maximise learning. In this case, it was other activities that followed on from the OCS that provided further opportunities for STEM, as described next.

What the children learned Most of the children’s responses about their learning from the OCS were value or action related – for example,‘there is too much rubbish on the beach’ and ‘we need to put rubbish in bins’.This learning relates particularly to the participating and contributing strand of science in NZC at level 1/2:‘Explore and act on issues and questions that link their science learning to their daily living’ (Ministry of Education, 2007). Dianne believed that the OCS contributed strongly to students’ development of the related capability: engage with science. ‘This was huge. It gave the children a global appreciation of a local problem and has encouraged them to pursue their local study and present their fndings to our local community’. Some students (9/62) recognised that they had improved their observational capability through interpreting data, saying they had learned to ‘look more carefully’.As in the frst story, some acknowledged the care needed in ‘searching thoroughly’ and that interpretation of data in images can be diffcult because ‘some things look like a thing, but it is not’. Dianne identifed that the OCS project provided a ‘context to discuss scientifc thinking, accuracy and repetition’ echoing Carol’s experience in Story 1.

Other STEM opportunities As in the frst story, there were opportunities to build students’ digital competence through using the OCS. Their OCS participation also provided opportunity for

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the children to learn about drone use in a scientifc context, rather than as toys, and also to consider the idea of machine learning and how their actions could inform this.The OCS formed an introduction to other experiences that supported STEM learning.The items found in the sand were sorted and used to form a physical bar graph. The class also carried out a lunchbox survey, where they grouped and counted the waste from their lunchboxes, presenting the data as a large colourful strip graph on the wall of their classroom. Dianne had planned that students would test the health of the water in their stream by using numbers and species of macroinvertebrates as an indicator. She organised litter traps to be placed in the stormwater drain outside their school and at the local shopping centre.The students collected, sorted and counted the litter from these traps each week (see Figure 6.1).They presented the data that they gathered to the community and designed posters to be put up around the local shopping centre, to remind people not to let litter enter waterways. The posters were created using green screen technologies during an externally provided digital technology workshop (see example provided in Figure 6.2). These opportunities typically do not ft in just one STEM area but rather illustrate an integrated approach to STEM learning and teaching. For instance, the lunchbox activity was both a science activity, involving sorting and grouping on the basis of properties, and a statistics activity, involving gathering, interpreting and presenting data. It also provided data and evidence that informed students about actions to take regarding the use of plastics, developing their engaging with science capability. Similarly, the design and the placement of posters were part of students’ learning to take action, addressing the participating and contributing science strand of NZC, but it involved digital technology learning as well. As with Story 1, the OCS use was only one part of the teacher’s innovative and holistic approach to STEM learning and teaching, which again took place in a range of authentic contexts, to help children understand and address a local problem.


Creating a physical bar graph of items found in beach sand


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A poster created by a student using green screen technology

Story 3: Globe at Night An integrated approach to inquiring into a local issue was also adopted by Melissa with her class of 21 year fve and six students (students aged eight to ten years). Because a large retirement village was planned for development next to their school, she believed that studying the effects of light pollution and its impact on people and animals might be an engaging topic for her students since a large amount of light would be added to the local skyscape by their new neighbour. She identifed the long-standing OCS project Globe at Night (National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 2019) as being of particular use for her students.This project aims to raise public awareness about light pollution and its effects. Volunteers measure and submit the brightness of their local night sky using a web-based app. She thought that this project would help her students apply learning that they would do about light and build on their interest in astronomy, because to contribute data to the project, they had to be able to identify local constellations. She aimed to address all four of the nature of science sub-strand objectives through the seven-week unit and to develop learning about the phenomenon of light to address the physical world strand, together with aspects of the planet Earth and beyond strand and the living world strand of science in NZC. Melissa identifed the following science capabilities for citizenship as being a possible a focus for development, as described in Table 6.3.

Engaging in OCS To begin the unit, the students frst considered what they knew about light, by exploring key questions, such as ‘Why is light important to us?’ They then spent time exploring some of the properties of light through a series of practical science activities. Students

Students will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the citizen science data collection method, asking questions such as the following: How reliable is the data collected? What factors affect the reliability of data? How reliable are our own data collection methods? Students will create a map of light pollution in their local area.They will contribute our data to the global set and will discuss and explore how it is represented on the OCS website, thinking about how it is represented, how they read it, what it tells us and whether there are other ways that they could represent data. Students will take action in our community – identifying light pollution in our neighbourhoods.They will write letters to businesses (e.g. retirement village development) outlining our concerns and what those businesses can do to reduce light pollution.They will brainstorm ways to reduce light pollution in our own homes and at school.

Critique evidence

Engage with science

Interpreting representations

Students used information about the effects of light pollution provided by the OCS to inform their actions.

The website provided a protocol using a specifc galaxy and also criteria for determining the brightness of the night sky. Students would have entered their own data but for bad weather.They applied the criteria to images of the local night sky. The evidence they were to gather for the OCS would have informed them about light pollution levels in their neighbourhood. The OCS provided data entered by participants for each year during 2006–2018. Students examined these data for patterns and trends and considered the quality of this evidence. Students disagreed over the outcome of the application of criteria for night sky brightness provided by OCS.They also noted issues with the annual data summaries presented on the OCS. Discussions arose about the reliability of data, fostered by comparisons with satellite data of light pollution. Annual summaries of the data entered by participants presented on the OCS were analysed by students, looking for patterns, trends and omissions.

Students will make their own observations of the night sky and of light pollution in their local neighbourhood.They will use these data to interpret the level of light pollution in different parts of our locality. They will use our evidence to discuss the level of light pollution in our locality and use the data gathered on the OCS site to draw conclusions about global levels of light pollution.

Gather and interpret data

Using evidence

How the OCS project supported learning

Melissa’s intended student learning

Science capability

TABLE 6.3 Learning from Globe at Night


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read various articles about light during their reading programme and watched videos about light.Together they considered biological responses to light and light pollution through questions such as ‘Do all animals sleep at night?’ and ‘What do you think might happen to animals when it’s suddenly lighter at night?’They explored a range of websites about the effects of light pollution. Globe at Night provided useful interactives and weblinks. Melissa invited a scientist to talk with the class about his group’s work to reduce light pollution and improve the night sky quality in a nearby rural region.As in Carol’s story (Story 1), this personal connection was important to students. To introduce the OCS project, Melissa used an introductory video provided by Globe at Night. She created her own treasure hunt about the OCS website to familiarise students with the site.The students in this class had little experience with digital technology, so Melissa used this opportunity to build basic skills, such as cutting and pasting text. She had anticipated that students would contribute to the project by measuring the brightness of a given constellation, as directed by the website. She spent considerable time preparing them for this task, helping them identify local constellations and learning to use the OCS protocols and charts. However, night after night of cloudy weather during the allocated time period made it impossible. Undaunted, Melissa got up in the middle of the night, when it was clear, to take some pictures of the local night sky.The students used magnitude charts provided on the website to categorise the degree of light pollution in these images. Interpreting the images in this way provided a valuable learning opportunity. Considerable disagreement arose in deciding the magnitude of brightness in these images. Melissa capitalised on their disagreement by encouraging students to discuss the reliability of data and claims that relied on such a means of classifcation.These opportunities promoted students’ critical thinking about the data reported on the website. Melissa made use of the large data sets collected since 2006 that were available through Globe at Night.The degree of reported light pollution was represented by the size of a dot on a world map. Students worked in pairs to look for patterns in the data and then to suggest possible explanations for them. Observations showed the importance of her questioning and focus:‘I’ve seen some great observations, now I’d like you to think about what’s missing’. She highlighted a child’s comment about China having lots of people but that there were no reports of light pollution from there. Children suggested that it might be happening, but people were not reporting it.Another child suggested that people spoke different languages in different countries but that the site is in English, which might explain some missing data. One child stated that in 2006 Wellington had no light pollution. Melissa asked, ‘Does that mean Wellington didn’t have light pollution then?’ Another child responded ‘No, just that no one reported it’. Students were then asked to compare the Globe at Night data with data taken from a satellite and discussed the reliability of each method of collecting and representing data.

What the children learned In a post-unit assessment, students identifed that ‘fake data’,‘weather’,‘poor countries’ and ‘no equipment’ could affect the reliability of the OCS data, with ‘people

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being silly’ or ‘making mistakes’ the most common responses. Students showed developing capability to critically consider scientifc data, but they largely identifed their learning from the OCS project as being about light pollution and its effects on animals and people.This is understandable since many used the website for this purpose. However, critiquing evidence was the capability least recognised by students right across the project, where students were more likely to identify improvement in their ability to observe carefully. Melissa noted in the post-unit assessment activity that many needed support to apply their learning to a different context.This unit was these students’ frst experience of developing this capability, and she believed that her students would need further opportunities to consolidate their ability to critique evidence.

Other STEM opportunities Engaging with the OCS provided useful opportunities for developing digital skills for these students. However, this story illustrates again the integrated nature of STEM learning and highlights the rich authentic contexts that OCS projects can provide to support it.To critique evidence, students need not only scientifc methodological understanding but also statistical knowledge (Ministry of Education, n.d.). A focus of the NZC mathematics and statistics learning area is developing statistical literacy.The summaries of annual data represented on the OCS provided authentic opportunities to critique the evidence from a science perspective while developing their critical statistical literacy. Students were working with real data sets of which they had practical experience.The range and nature of the data presented on the OCS enabled students to develop statistical skills, such as decoding the way data were represented, looking for and explaining patterns and gaps in data and evaluating the effectiveness of data displays. Melissa’s role in identifying and facilitating these opportunities through her task design and questioning was critical. The unit culminated in the students drawing all of these STEM experiences together, along with their own inquiries into the effects of light pollution, by writing letters to the developers of the retirement village or to the local council about the nature of street lighting and the value of dark skies projects. Like the preceding stories, these students also had the opportunity to learn ways to respond to a local issue in an informed way.

Story 4: Planet Hunters and Agent Exoplanet In our fnal story, Matt, a specialist science teacher in a local intermediate school,2 worked with two classes of year seven and eight students (44 students aged 11 to 13 years) on a ten-week unit about light and sound addressing the physical world strand of the NZC. He selected two OCS projects: Planet Hunters (Eisner, n.d.) and Agent Exoplanet (Las Cumbres Observatory, n.d.). The frst stage of his unit involved practical activities illustrating the properties of light and sound and developing science capabilities such as gathering data and using evidence. A keen


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amateur astronomer, he thought these OCS projects would show students how scientists apply the properties of light that they were learning about to fnd out about the universe beyond our solar system. Both of these OCS projects use data from telescopes to detect the presence of an exoplanet by identifying a transit, which is the dip in light intensity caused by the exoplanet passing between its star and Earth.Volunteers’ responses help develop computer programmes that will be able to perform these identifcation tasks. In Agent Exoplanet, citizen scientists calibrate star images taken by ground-based telescopes to develop light-intensity curves for a given star. The calibration informs tasks that the computer needs to learn, by breaking down the identifcation into individual steps. It helps inform algorithms that will assist computers in detecting the difference between what makes a star image as opposed to the background sky, or an artefact in the image taken by the telescope, which is, by its nature, a distant and therefore blurry picture. Human input is required for this task because human senses and reasoning are better at these calibration tasks than existing computer algorithms are. Measurements of the stars are compared to background brightness and to measurements of other stars so that variables that may affect readings from ground-based telescopes are accounted for.These may include weather conditions that would affect the brightness of all stars or variability in brightness intrinsic to the properties of an individual star, which would affect only one. Planet Hunters provides graphs of stars’ light curves from the Keppler telescope for volunteers to classify, again using their actions to train machine learning algorithms for exoplanet detection. Different patterns in star light curves can be produced by different interactions – for example, if two stars are in orbit with each other or there are multiple planets orbiting one star. Humans can detect such nuances in light-intensity data that computers miss.The tasks for each OCS were different, and Matt thought that they would provide variety and choice for students. Matt anticipated students would have the opportunity to develop science capabilities for citizenship, as detailed in Table 6.4. He believed that students would be engaged and excited by the fact that they were using ‘real data, and that their interpretations are used by real scientists for a real purpose’.

Engaging in OCS To help students understand what they would be looking for in the OCS projects, Matt used a variety of models to demonstrate the nature of a transit of a star by a planet and how and why it produced a dip in light intensity. Most powerfully, he created a model of a star by using a light inside a ball in a makeshift darkroom in his classroom, and students used an app on tablets to measure changes in light intensity as he tracked the planet/ball through its orbit around the ‘star’. They calculated and plotted measurements as percentages of full ‘star’ intensity to produce graphs similar to those that they would be using in the OCS projects. Students then spent a session using Agent Exoplanet, learning from its material how readings are taken

Online citizen science in the classroom 93 TABLE 6.4 Learning from Planet Hunters and Agent Exoplanet

Science capability

Matt’s intended student learning

How the OCS projects supported learning

Gather and interpret data

These OCS projects allow the students to understand how these graphs (star light curves) are created, and then skip the painstaking, laborious and, in the case of exoplanets, sometimes impossible process of gathering the data.

Interpreting representations

They will be interpreting representations as they use a model, create graphs and interpret graphs as part of the OCS.

Agent Exoplanet: calibrating star images against background sky and other stars to help develop accurate star light curves supported students’ learning about scientifc processes that enable data comparison. They also learned about the accuracy and persistence that scientifc data interpretation requires. Planet Hunters: students had to carefully examine complex star light curves to identify whether the specifc pattern that indicates the presence of an exoplanet was present.

from telescope data and analysed to form a graph. They then contributed to the project by calibrating images of stars by using the detailed protocol as directed by the OCS and then entering the results onto the website.They spent another session using Planet Hunters, viewing series of graphs and interpreting them looking for exoplanets (as shown in Figure 6.3). To conclude the unit, students researched some of the exoplanets that have been found by this method of detection and created a poster showing their properties, having had experience of the kind of evidence underpinning such knowledge. Matt noted that having two different OCS projects allowed students who began to lose focus with one to switch to the other while remaining engaged in OCS and the learning focus. Because the tasks were related but slightly different, different students found one project more engaging than the other, which is something to bear in mind if there are several OCS projects relating to a topic available.

What the children learned Some students (11/44) indicated that they had developed their understanding about light, transits and exoplanets from using the OCS projects. Many (17/44) indicated they had learned to interpret this type of data, as evidenced by the following quotes: ‘how to spot transits and what they look like’; ‘about analysing the


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Student examining light-intensity graphs from Planet Hunters

pictures’; and ‘observation of light graphs.’ By participating in these OCS tasks, students also learned important lessons about science itself:‘scientists need more than one person’s opinion’ and ‘science is very time-consuming’.The calibration tasks on Agent Exoplanet in particular helped students to recognise the precise and repetitive nature of gathering data in science. Where modern technology makes many tasks for students simple and seamless, this meticulous repetition of highly precise tasks helped teach students the true nature of scientifc data gathering through their own participation. The precision, complexity and number of these calibrations contrast strongly with the controlling of variables in the often-simplistic fair tests offered in classrooms as an experience of science. Rather than being frustrated or bored by their experience, many students revelled in the challenge, bragging to each other about who had successfully performed the most calibrations. However, others preferred to look for exoplanets among the data on Planet Hunters, which required careful observation but was less exacting.

Other STEM opportunities The use of these OCS projects provided an introduction to the nature of computer learning and how human actions are used to improve algorithms while also identifying the currently superior capabilities that humans have in identifying these

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complex patterns among data. As in the previous story, the main value for other aspects of STEM lies in the overlap of the nature of the OCS tasks that the students were involved in and statistics-focused learning opportunities.The data and graphs that the students were interpreting and examining on the websites for patterns were not simple. Students needed to look carefully for patterns, similarities and differences within and between graphs and data. Matt supported their understanding of how transits affect light intensity by asking them to plot simplifed data from the model. This required calculation from the Lux measurement recorded using the tablet light meter app to a percentage of brightness.The use of the OCS created a need and authentic reason to convert a fraction to a decimal and then percentage, a practice task often carried out without context or meaning in mathematics lessons.The use of Lux as a measurement unit and light intensity as an attribute also extended students’ experience of what can be measured and how. Matt designed a worksheet to support their calculations and graphing.The graphing itself involved creating a time-series display, and the graphs that students were interpreting in the OCS were complex. Again, participation in the OCS provided authentic and integrated science and statistics learning opportunities. Being unafraid and able to engage with complex graphs and representations is important for future citizens as critical consumers of STEM-related information.

What can we learn from these stories? What is evident from these four stories is that OCS can make readily accessible in the classroom rich and real experiences of the complexity and messiness that is science. OCS also extends the range of science contexts that students can investigate practically, as Matt’s story in particular showed. The learning was not limited to science, however.These stories highlight the integrated and overlapping nature of much STEM learning that occurred as a result of students’ participation in OCS, including aspects of digital technology, mathematics and statistics. Also demonstrated is the kind of teacher facilitation that enables primary students to develop capabilities to engage with STEM and use it to inform decision-making and taking action.While this learning could be seen as rehearsal for future citizenship as advocated by Allchin (2014), in the frst three stories, the students were acting as citizens in situations that were affecting them right then and there. In considering these stories, we want to highlight the following four points as key learnings. These learnings form a set of considerations that may be useful for other educators when integrating OCS projects into classroom activities as a way to enrich STEM learning and teaching.

OCS participation provides rich opportunities for developing science capabilities for citizenship All four teachers identifed their students’ development of science capabilities for citizenship as an important outcome of their participation in the OCS.At the time of the study, little was known about the nature of students’ progress in developing the capabilities. However, it was a major focus on national monitoring studies for


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primary science in 2017 (EARU & NZCER, 2017), and an analysis of that data has recently resulted in a provisional set of progress indicators to support teachers to identify learner progress in relation to the capabilities (Ministry of Education, 2019).A comparison of students’ actions in the study against these progress indicators suggests that the rich opportunities provided by OCS participation for learning and teaching focused on science capabilities have a positive impact on their development. Many students appeared to be working well above indicators for their year level. For instance, students in Carol’s class made ‘detailed observations’ covering ‘multiple salient features’, which is an indicator for students two years above them (Ministry of Education, 2019, p. 7). Several students in Melissa’s class also met the indicators two years above their level, by checking ‘data and explanations to identify possible sources of error’. A possible explanation is that participation in the OCS meant students undertook more-exacting and more-complex scientifc practices than would perhaps be offered in most primary classrooms.This suggests that more challenging tasks may support improved achievement. However, the teachers also intentionally planned for capability development and identifed ways to use the OCS for this. Question types suggested on the support website for the capabilities were also part of their classroom discourse (Ministry of Education, n.d.), suggesting that focused teaching may be a contributing factor.

OCS participation deepened students’ understanding of science By participating in OCS projects and working with real and messy data, the students gained valuable insights into the realities of science, such as about the number of data that scientists gather and the diffculties of interpretation as balanced against the need to provide reliable evidence for projects. Carol’s students and Dianne’s students talked about the need to observe carefully in science, for instance. Their experiences helped them identify the practices and values that they were learning to enact as ‘scientifc’ because they knew they were doing real science.This participation led to realisations that science involved perseverance, human sense-making, uncertainty and consensus. Such an understanding of science is critical for citizens because they engage with scientifc evidence and claims. Again, what the teachers did supported student understanding.They talked openly about citizen science and identifed practices and values as scientifc.

OCS can provide authentic opportunities for learning in other STEM areas There were many opportunities for STEM learning, many of which grew directly out of OCS use, including learning the digital skills needed to participate actively in the projects.What initially seemed to be science learning opportunities were also, by their nature, opportunities for more-integrated STEM learning. For instance, developing scientifc capability through critiquing evidence was also an opportunity

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to develop statistical literacy, as demonstrated in Melissa’s story. OCS provided authentic data and data representations that enabled this integrated STEM learning without students having to collect the data themselves, an unachievable task in these cases. Some STEM learning was part of the wider unit planned by teachers who, as NZC suggests, made ‘use of the natural connections that exist between learning areas’ (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 16) to provide learning experiences in other STEM areas that would build students’ understanding of issues, help them identify possible solutions and help them take action as citizens in their own right on local and national problems.

Teachers understanding the curriculum was critical These teachers’ understanding of NZC’s aim to develop science understanding and capabilities useful in citizenship underpinned the opportunities for learning that they identifed and designed using the OCS and were therefore critical in fostering the learning that is described in these stories.These teachers had been involved in professional development focused on the intentions of the curriculum and the science capabilities for citizenship.They were able to identify and use relevant opportunities within their chosen OCS projects to develop a specifc capability and used questions that guided student thinking appropriately (Ministry of Education, n.d.). This knowledge of curriculum seems key to the integrated nature of STEM learning.To avoid missed opportunities and to maximise learning, teachers need to recognise the key purposes and goals for learning for the different disciplines in a STEM activity and where they intersect with each other. There also seems to be something in these stories that highlights the connection of disciplinary practices and values with the discipline itself. These teachers often talked explicitly about what was important in science. In this age of ‘de-siloing’ and integration, so important for the deep and rich learning opportunities it can provide, we wonder also about the importance of students recognising the signature practices and values of different disciplines – knowing what it means to think like an engineer or a technologist – and how these different ways of thinking can contribute to investigating and taking action on an issue. To conclude, OCS provides rich opportunities for integrated STEM learning by engaging students in real and purposeful science, providing authentic tasks and data. The valuable learning for citizenship that can result does not happen simply through participation, though it requires planned facilitation by curriculumconfdent teachers.

Acknowledgement We would like to acknowledge both the TLRI fund for supporting the original project and the Science Learning Hub ( for developing teacher support material from the project and continuing the work of identifying school-relevant OCS projects.


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Notes 1 Literally ‘older sibling/younger sibling’, this is a Māori teaching and learning strategy where a more experienced student works alongside a less experienced one to support them in learning and completing a task. 2 In New Zealand, intermediate schools cater exclusively to year seven and eight students in an area where several contributing primary schools cater to year one to six students only. Full primary schools cater to students from year one to eight. Secondary schooling begins at year nine (age 13) and progresses through to year 13 (age 17).

References Allchin, D. (2014). From science studies to scientifc literacy:A view from the classroom. Science & Education, 23(9), 1911–1932. Anton,V., Hartley, S., & Wittmer, H. (n.d.). Identify New Zealand animals. Retrieved from Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2014). Foundation to year 10 curriculum: Science. Retrieved from au/f-10-curriculum/science/rationale/ Bull, A. (2015). Capabilities for living and lifelong learning: What’s science got to do with it? Retrieved from Cleaver, P. (2017). Designed for good. School Journal Level 3, May 2017. Retrieved from Curious Minds. (n.d.). Participatory science platform. Retrieved from www.curiousminds. nz/funding/participatory-science-platform/ Doyle, C., Li, J., Luczak-Roesch, M.,Anderson, D., Glasson, B., Boucher, M., . . . Christenson, D. (2018). What is online citizen science anyway? An educational perspective. https:// EARU & NZCER. (2017). Wānangatia te Putanga Tauira national monitoring study of student achievement science 2017. Retrieved from reports/2017/2017_NMSSA_SCIENCE.pdf Eisner, N. (n.d.).Agent exoplanet. Retrieved from Gallo,T., & Waitt, D. (2011). Creating a successful citizen science model to detect and report invasive species. BioScience, 61(6), 459–465. Hassman, K., Mugar, G., Østerlund, C., & Jackson, C. (2013). Learning at the seafoor, looking at the sky:The relationship between individual tasks and collaborative engagement in two citizen science projects. In N. Rummel, M. Kapur, M. J. Nathan, & S. Puntambekar (Eds.), Proceedings for 10th international conference on computer supported collaborative learning (pp. 265–266). Madison,WI: International Society of the Learning Sciences. Holmlund, T., Lesseig, K., & Slavit, D. (2018). Making sense of ‘STEM Education’ in K-12 contexts. International Journal of STEM Education, 5(32). doi:10.1186/s40594-018-0127-2 Kohler, P. (n.d.).The plastic tide. Retrieved from the-plastic-tide/about/research Las Cumbres Observatory. (n.d.) Agent exoplanet. Retrieved from https://agentexoplanet. Luczak-Roesch, M., Anderson, D., Glasson, B., Doyle, C., Li, Y., Pierson, C., & David, R. (2019). Citizen scientists in the classroom: Investigating the role of online citizen science

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in primary school science education. Retrieved from projects/Final%20Summary%20Report_Lukacz%20for%20web.pdf Ministry of Business and Innovation. (2014). A nation of curious minds/He whenua hihiri i te mahara: A national strategic plan for science in society. Retrieved from www. Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum.Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media. Ministry of Education. (2017).Technology in the New Zealand curriculum. Retrieved from Ministry of Education. (2019). Science in the New Zealand curriculum: Understanding progress from levels 2 to 4. Retrieved from Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Science capabilities for citizenship. Retrieved from https:// National Optical Astronomy Observatory. (2019). The globe at night. Retrieved from www. Nov, O.,Arazy, O., & Anderson, D. (2011). Dusting for science: Motivation and participation of digital citizen science volunteers. In Proceedings of the association for computing machinery 2011 iConference. New York, NY:ACM. Raddick, M., Bracey, G., Carney, K., Gyuk, G., Borne, K., Wallin, J., & Jacoby, S. (2009). Citizen science: Status and research directions for the coming decade. The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, Position Papers No. 46. Retrieved from http://adsabs.harvard. edu/abs/2009astro2010P.46R Royal Society- Te Apārangi. (n.d.). Science teaching leadership programme. Retrieved from Tinati, R., Luczak-Roesch, M., Simperl, E., & Hall,W. (2016). Because science is awesome: Studying participation in a citizen science game. In W. Nejdl & W. Hall (Eds.), Proceedings of the association for computing machinery 8th conference on web science (pp. 45–54). New York, NY: Special Interest Group on Hypertext, Hypermedia, and Web.


Introduction Partnerships between schools and universities can offer unique opportunities in addressing the challenge of devising and delivering innovative primary STEM education programmes. In this chapter, we focus on two collaborative projects that promoted STEM learning for primary students and provided professional learning contexts for pre-service teachers (PSTs). The frst project centred on a wholeschool Design and Make Day, which was embedded in the primary students’ science and technology unit of work for the term (over 10 weeks).The second project was a weekly lunchtime Maths Club that emphasised collaborative problem-solving and creative thinking (over fve weeks). In each case, small teams of three or four PSTs designed, implemented and evaluated tasks for primary students. By focusing on maximising active engagement, PSTs saw frst-hand the impact of rich tasks on student learning.Tasks were designed with the support of in-service teachers at the respective schools and teacher educators from the university. The PSTs’ involvement in the projects contributed to assessment tasks in their respective science and mathematics teacher education subjects. In terms of STEM, both projects enabled the PSTs and students to participate in activities involving combinations of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In this chapter, we draw on evaluative data gathered from primary students, pre- and in-service teachers and teacher educators who were involved in each of the projects. Data are drawn on to highlight and discuss some of the key emergent themes relating to possibilities for primary students’ STEM learning in collaborative partnership projects. The overall intent of these innovative projects was to individually and collectively enhance PSTs’ understandings of how they can teach STEM in primary school and classroombased contexts while providing engaging learning experiences for primary school students.

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Challenges in devising and delivering innovative primary pre-service STEM teacher education New developments, reforms and initiatives in education have subsequent impacts on teacher education and teacher educators (Lunenberg, 2010). With STEM, the latest educational ‘hot topic’, a tension is created in teacher education programmes when considering how best to incorporate STEM approaches.The Australian curriculum is structured around discrete disciplinary subject areas (Timms, Moyle, Weldon, & Mitchell, 2018), which has led to siloed syllabus documents in states and territories and is refected in course design and delivery in most Australian initial teacher education (ITE) degrees.The situation seems somewhat similar in the New Zealand context. In such degrees, teacher educators bring disciplinary expertise to the teaching of discrete subjects. STEM education initiatives therefore present new challenges to collaborative design and delivery across disciplines, requiring teacher educators to work in new ways. While contemporary syllabus documents may address only discrete STEM disciplines, curriculum integration has a long tradition (Jacobs, 1989; Fogarty, 1991). Integrative approaches are common practice in teaching and learning programme design and delivery in many Australian primary schools across a range of disciplines, including STEM.This is also the case for New Zealand primary school education. Three approaches to teaching STEM are identifed by Roberts and Cantu (2012): •

In the silo approach, each subject is taught independently of the others. Lessons may be more teacher driven, where the students learn content focused on developing disciplinary knowledge and skills. In the embedded approach, real-world situations and problem-solving techniques are emphasised. Content from other subjects is emphasised, and the ‘teacher uses embedding to strengthen a lesson, which benefts the learner through understanding and application’ (p. 113). Interdisciplinary thinking is encouraged. In the integrated approach, STEM content areas can be taught all at once or in different combinations, which tends to be the case in project-based or problem-based learning. Such an approach promotes interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary thinking.

Given these approaches and their impacts, how ITE best prepares future primary teachers to devise and deliver a range of STEM approaches is a contemporary challenge in course design. A further challenge that primary STEM teacher education needs to address is PST confdence in mathematics (Norton, 2017) and science teaching (Avraamidou, 2013). Previous research has shown that some primary PSTs are anxious about, or may have low self-effcacy in, teaching mathematics (Mizala, Martinez, & Martinez, 2015) and/or science (Menon & Sadler, 2016). Menon and Sadler (2016) found, however, that positive experiences with hands-on science learning for


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primary PSTs could boost both levels of confdence and their ideas for future science teaching. Perhaps not surprisingly, a positive relationship was found between the development of self-effcacy beliefs and the development of conceptual understanding in science (Menon & Sadler, 2016). Implications for pre-service teacher education drawn by Menon and Sadler (2016) include the need for ongoing support and mentoring throughout the degree to provide encouragement to build positive perceptions of themselves as science teachers.We can therefore extrapolate that these well-documented confdence concerns in relation to mathematics and science pre-service teaching can be applied to STEM. One way of addressing such challenges in STEM initial teacher education is through partnership activities between universities and primary schools that fall outside traditional block ‘practicum’ or professional experience periods. ‘University–school partnerships appear to offer the authentic and valuable space in which pre-service teachers can develop their knowledge, skills and identity as effective teachers’ (Jones et al., 2016, p. 119). Furthermore, research conducted by Mettas and Constantinou (2007) found that participation in design and technology partnership activities with primary students positively enhanced PSTs’ confdence and enthusiasm in teaching. The potential of such school–university partnerships for enhancing STEM learning for all motivated our design of two initiatives, which we now describe.

Our contexts: A STEM focus through the lenses of science and technology, and mathematics education The STEM initiatives that are the focus of our chapter were designed and implemented by PSTs in two public (government-funded) primary schools in Sydney, Australia.We initially anticipated each of these initiatives to be more siloed, owing to the disciplinary nature of the associated ITE subjects being studied by the PSTs. The richness of the tasks designed and implemented by the PSTs for the primary school students, however, resulted in a more embedded STEM approach being actualised. One initiative was an extracurricular club (Prescott & Pressick-Kilborn, 2015), while the other was linked to and embedded in the regular curriculum (Pressick-Kilborn & Prescott, 2017). Working in small teams, the PSTs were responsible for the design and delivery of the initiatives, with support from teacher educators and in-service teachers.

Design and Make Day The Design and Make Day was a whole-school event at an inner-city primary school. The initiative involved third-year bachelor of education PSTs working in teaching teams of three to plan and implement a dedicated day of science and technology learning for a small group of six to eight primary students (see Figure 7.1). The PSTs worked with the same group of students for the whole day.The purpose was to engage these students in a design and make (or design and produce, design

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Primary students working in small groups with PSTs on Design and Make Day

and create) task related to the class’s science topic for the term, which was guided by a Primary Connections unit (Australian Academy of Science, n.d.).1 Topics included garden mini-beasts, Earth in space and how things move. Each PST team planned the day to include an engaging introduction to their design brief, opportunities for fair testing to inform the design and time for collaborative designing and making.The day culminated in students presenting their products or solutions to their classmates, PSTs, teachers and teacher educators.The day was planned by the school as an incursion. In preparation for the day itself, the PST teams were allocated a particular class from kindergarten2 through to year six (around 12 years of age) and given details of the Primary Connections unit that was guiding the class’s science and technology programme for that term.The PSTs used their tutorial/workshop time on-campus at university to develop their own understandings of the particular science topic and familiarising themselves with the specifc primary connections unit through engaging in some of the activities themselves.The PSTs then developed some ideas for a design brief related to the science topic. Next, there was a video conference facilitated by a teacher and a teacher educator between representative students from classes at the school and PSTs.The video conference provided an opportunity for the students to share their learning in their science and technology unit to date and for PSTs to ask questions to gain some feedback on their design brief ideas. The PSTs fnalised their design briefs and their plans for the Design and Make Day, and


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they shared these to get feedback from their lecturer in a professional conversation that simulated a discussion with an instructional leader. PST teams collaboratively refected on and refned their plans for the day on the basis of the feedback. Following the day, all PSTs individually submitted a written refection for assessment, which engaged them in analysing and evaluating their planning and implementation of the activities and in refecting on their experiences of team teaching. The total time for planning, implementation and refection was six weeks.

Lunchtime Maths Club The Maths Club was an assessment task for fourth-year PSTs in the third, and last, mathematics subject in the bachelor of education programme. In groups of four, the PSTs were invited to run a Maths Club for grade fve and six students (aged ten to 12 years) at an inner-city primary school near the university (not the same school used for the Design and Make Day). Each session was 45 minutes long because the Maths Club ran during the students’ lunchtime. Usually, 15–20 students attended, but the numbers varied depending on the other school activities at the time.The focus of the Maths Club was to show the PSTs how the syllabus could be enhanced, and at the same time, the students saw that mathematics could be fun and interesting. Each week, one of the four PSTs would take leadership of the Maths Club, working with the others in the group to design the week-by-week programme and plan the activities. The three others would assist by supporting the weekly leader, helping students during the Maths Club and afterwards refecting on the activities. Because the PSTs could not be left unsupervised with the students, because of government regulations, the class teachers and a teacher educator also attended the Maths Club.Topics included fractals, which involved students looking at patterns in nature and creating a fractal; Bee-Bots, which focused on students exploring concepts of direction and coding; a design challenge in which students designed and created a device to safely drop a raw egg to the ground foor from the frst foor; and capacity, where students engaged in activities to explore lung capacity.

Gathering and analysing data to inform an evaluation of these initiatives In each of the three years that the Design and Make Day was held, an average of 75 PSTs participated with 11 primary school classes and teachers at the partner school. In refecting on the event, in-service teachers and PSTs responded to three evaluation questions: 1 2 3

What do you consider the most successful aspects of the day? Did anything surprise you? What would you change if we partnered to have a similar activity in the future?

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Refective evaluations from PSTs and in-service teachers gave insights into the primary school students’ experiences. In addition, two focus groups were held with PSTs from one year, which provided additional data.Written notes were recorded from refective conversations among teacher educators. Photographs were taken that documented the day. Over the fve years of the Maths Club, between four and eight PSTs participated each year at the partner school.As part of the assessment task, the pre-service teachers were asked to develop a written refection on the benefts for the participants in being a part of the Maths Club.The pre-service teachers spoke each week with the teacher educator who accompanied the students.The same refective evaluation questions (as earlier) were asked of the in-service teachers and PSTs.The students were surveyed about their favourite activities and what they did not like at Maths Club. At the end of their time in the school, as part of their assessment, each PST teaching team submitted a refective report about their experience of running a Maths Club. The approach taken to analysing the data gathered for both of these initiatives was qualitative in nature. Multiple, repeated readings of the teachers’ refective evaluations were undertaken, with codes generated and agreed on between the researchers (O’Toole & Beckett, 2010). We then systematically looked for similar themes in the focus group transcripts (Design and Make Day), student survey responses (Maths Club) and notes from teacher educator conversations (Design and Make Day).We also interrogated these additional data sources for divergent themes. From these analyses, we identifed three features that characterised both of the STEM initiatives, which are now presented and discussed.

Distinctive STEM education features across our contexts One of the characteristics of STEM education is the focus on developing general capabilities that enhance future employability (Timms et al., 2018). Sometimes referred to as 21st-century skills, such capabilities have become crucial across the globe, and can be considered as the essence of many contemporary curricula, transcending disciplines, linking subjects and enabling students to engage more deeply with content. For example, in the Australian curriculum,3 capability encompasses knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions. Students develop capability when they apply knowledge and skills confdently, effectively and appropriately in complex and changing circumstances, in their learning at school and in their lives outside school. (ACARA, n.d.) In linking to the New Zealand curriculum,4 these skills are referred to as key competencies and are ‘the capabilities people have, and need to develop, to live and learn today and in the future’ (Ministry of Education, 2014).


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Three features are refective of such general capabilities that characterised the STEM activities in both the Design and Make Day and the Maths Club: 1

2 3

The inclusion of rich tasks that could be completed successfully and with a sense of challenge by students who brought various background knowledge and skills. The promotion of critical and creative thinking. The availability of opportunities for collaborative planning, problem-solving and refection.

Each of these features is now discussed with illustrative examples from our two primary STEM initiatives.

Inclusion of rich tasks Rich tasks can create relevant, interesting and engaging contexts that support the development of scientifc and mathematical literacies and of 21st-century skills. At the basis of any rich task is a need to pose and solve ill-defned problems, through collaboration and discussion. Rich tasks comprise several levels of complexity and approaches to possible solutions (Butler Wolf, 2015; Foster, 2018). Rich tasks are particularly important when we, as educators, consider differentiation and demands on higher-order thinking in the context of solving problems. Accessibility is considered in task design, so that less-confdent students have a meaningful entry point to the activity and can meet with success (low threshold), while more-confdent or more-advanced students are given the chance to engage in challenging science or mathematics (high ceiling) (Butler Wolf, 2015). In our two initiatives, rich tasks were designed for two stakeholder groups: frst, by the teacher educators for the PSTs and, second, by the PSTs for the primary school students.The PSTs were engaged in rich tasks that involved them collaboratively planning, implementing and evaluating STEM activities in authentic primary school learning contexts.Their assessment tasks for their mathematics and science subjects were embedded in these authentic activities. For the primary students, the tasks were rich because of the multiple solutions that were possible and because of the varied pathways to arriving at a meaningful solution through collaboration and discussion (for descriptions of specifc tasks, see Prescott & Pressick-Kilborn, 2015; Pressick-Kilborn & Prescott, 2017). Working mathematically, working scientifcally and working technologically underpin the Australian curriculum for mathematics, science and technology (ACARA, n.d.) and were at the core of the tasks for both stakeholder groups initiated in both the Design and Make Day and the Maths Club. While the initial teacher education subjects that were the context for these initiatives explicitly focused on one (Maths Club) or a combination (Design and Make Day) of the STEM disciplines, the other STEM elements were embedded as a result of the rich-task approach.While the tasks designed by the PSTs for the Design and Make Day and Maths Club integrated STEM disciplines, ‘fuzzy boundaries’ were noted,

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with concern for task authenticity valued more highly than maintaining disciplinary distinctiveness. Disciplinary processes and ways of thinking were emphasised, however, such as fair testing leading to design solutions (Design and Make Day). We now focus on three aspects of rich tasks that were particularly apparent in our two initiatives: 1 2 3

Collaborating to communicate ideas. Designing possibilities for surprise through novelty. Creating opportunities for wonder and fun.

1 Collaborating to communicate ideas In both the Design and Make Day and the Maths Club, students were keen to discuss their ideas, exploring possibilities and creating solutions in response to task briefs and problems posed.The learning spaces were noisy, refective of the students’ absorption in the tasks, with a great deal of on-task conversation. In both initiatives, the students presented their solutions to peers, PSTs, teachers and teacher educators, which allowed them to develop their communication skills and confdence in clearly explaining processes and products of learning in STEM.

2 Designing possibilities for surprise through novelty An example of surprise through novelty for the students who attended the Maths Club was when they worked with tessellations.The students were used to making tessellations with rectangles, triangles and hexagons.Then the PSTs showed the students some possibilities for designing their own shapes by starting with a rectangle and then taking bits from one side and putting them on the opposite side. Realising that their new shape would still tessellate opened up a whole new experience.The students were keen to see who had the most complicated shape and used colour to indicate the uniqueness of their tessellation.

3 Creating opportunities for wonder and fun While novelty is a recognised trigger for ‘catching’ students’ interest in science learning, so are positive emotions such as enjoyment and more cognitively oriented dispositions such as wonder (Dohn, 2013; Pressick-Kilborn, 2015). In both initiatives were examples of wonder and fun. One PST observed in refecting on her involvement in the Design and Make Day that In the same way that the children were passionately engaged by our scenarios, I really felt that this project was so exciting and captivating. It was easy to be engaged and interested. I found myself so motivated to put something exciting on for the kids. Love, love, loved it. (PST)


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Many students did not realise that mathematics can be fun, interesting and exciting. For example, it was lunchtime on the day the Maths Club dropped their wrapped eggs from the frst-foor balcony, so the rest of the school watched with great excitement and curiosity, and there were many ooohs, aahs and cheers as the eggs survived or broke.The next week, the number of students at Maths Club doubled because the students saw that it was fun and wanted to join in. The PSTs in the Maths Club had to ensure that all the students ate their lunch. Sometimes, they were so involved in the activities that they forgot to eat. In summary, the tasks that the PSTs designed for the primary students promoted the relevance of STEM learning and created possibilities for collaboration and emotional engagement through activities with multiple pathways to arrive at a variety of successful solutions.The tasks that we as teacher educators set for our PSTs were rich in their professional authenticity and relevance and similarly open-ended in relation to the possibilities for reaching a successful, collaborative outcome.

Promoting critical and creative thinking In our contexts, the general capability of critical and creative thinking (ACARA, n.d.) was promoted through the choice and design of activities. This would be captured under the key competency of thinking in the New Zealand curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2014).The focus on this particular capability was important in fostering PST and student engagement in learning. The Australian curriculum (ACARA, n.d.) distinguishes between the two types of thinking as follows: 1


‘Critical thinking is at the core of most intellectual activity that involves students learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems’. ‘Creative thinking involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specifc contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome’.

Both the Design and Make Day and the Maths Club created learning contexts, and more specifcally included inquiry tasks, that involved students in decision-making and argumentation by using information to solve problems. Students were encouraged to generate a range of ideas to arrive at original and imaginative solutions when PSTs provided them with rich tasks that had multiple possibilities for them to be successfully completed. Here, we provide specifc examples of students engaging in activities that promoted critical and creative thinking.

Examples of critical and creative thinking in our initiatives On the Design and Make Day, students were frequently engaged in critical and creative thinking as they generated and then applied fndings from fair testing as

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evidence to support decision-making when designing and moving towards a positive outcome. For example, a small group of kindergarten students were given a design challenge by a team of PSTs: to create a vertical race track to race a marble through (see Figure 7.2).The track needed to include a textured surface, a tunnel and a minimum of fve slopes. Students worked in pairs or trios, frst changing the gradient of a slope to observe the effects on the marble speed and then testing textured surfaces at the bottom of a ramp to see which surface slowed the marble the fastest. When students applied the knowledge and understandings gained through observations made during the fair testing process in the design of their marble runs results, they demonstrated their level of critical thinking. The students drew on evidence from their fair testing to argue for design features to be included in their group’s marble run. Guided by a PST, designs were refned and agreed on, and then the marble tracks were built.A number of PSTs commented in refective evaluations that they were surprised by ‘how creative and excited the children were’ (PST refection). Also, the in-service teachers commented on the creativity of the PSTs, including their use of educational drama strategies to engage the students and the thoughtful selection of resources provided by PSTs to foster student creativity (Pressick-Kilborn & Prescott, 2017). An example of critical and creative thinking being promoted through a Maths Club activity occurred when students were presented with a number of items, including, but not limited to, balloons, a measuring jug, a tray and a bucket. The PSTs then asked students to design an experiment that could measure the capacity of their lungs.The students easily flled the balloon. It then took much discussion among the groups to work out a way of measuring the contents of the balloon, until the students flled the bucket with water and then measured the overfow after they pushed the balloon into the water.The students recognised that this was a diffcult problem for them, and they were extremely pleased about the way they worked together to design an experiment that achieved the goal. Problem-solving can be considered the result of critical thinking: fnding the best possible solution to a problem after engaging in the ‘mental process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analysing, synthesizing and evaluating’ (Adams, Brigandi, & Sandin, 2012).

Opportunities for collaborative planning, problem-solving and refection Opportunities for collaborative planning, problem-solving and refection were evident in the primary students’ experiences of STEM learning in both the Design and Make Day and the Maths Club, as illustrated earlier in the chapter.These features also were evident to the PSTs in their professional learning in STEM education, as afforded through these initiatives. For the Design and Make Day, it was apparent from PST refective evaluations that they had not previously had opportunities during their ITE degree to engage in team teaching. There was collective responsibility for professional problemsolving in situ, as PSTs supported one another in their teaching team. Class teachers


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Kindergarten student testing marble run materials

and teacher educators provided guidance and feedback on each group’s plans in advance of the day, but they also were available to provide ‘just-in-time’ assistance on the day if needed. In concert, these factors greatly increased the likelihood of success, which in turn promoted the PSTs’ sense of effcacy in teaching STEM (Mansfeld & Woods-McConney, 2012). In the Maths Club, PSTs also collaborated to design each session. While one member of the team was responsible for running the session, they all worked

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together to produce ideas and activities so that they gained from each other’s knowledge and experience. The PSTs also wrote collaborative, refective evaluations of the sessions that they designed and implemented and discussed these evaluations with the in-service teachers and teacher educators, so that each session became an improvement on the last.These activity evaluations were more effective as they got to know the students and their knowledge of mathematics, and the PSTs were thus able to anticipate changes they might make in light of the feedback they received from previous sessions.

Chapter summary In this chapter, we have described and discussed two STEM education initiatives – a Design and Make Day and a lunchtime Maths Club – that were designed and implemented in the context of school–university partnerships (Jones et al., 2016). Participation in the Design and Make Day and the Maths Club created positive learning opportunities for both primary students and PSTs. In concluding this chapter, we refect on the nature of the learning for primary students and PSTs.

Who was learning what and how? Primary students The Design and Make Day engaged students in a special full day programme, guided by a design brief linked to their science and technology topic for the term. The day was a culminating activity in which the primary students refected on and applied their conceptual understanding developed in regular science lessons before the day. The students experienced one-to-one, individualised attention from the PSTs when learning in small groups, with a dedicated teaching team to support their learning. There was a sense of a ‘special festival’ about the day, with students able to recall specifc details about the previous year, such as the names of peers and the PSTs with whom they worked and the task they completed. The purpose of the Maths Club was to provide an opportunity for primary students to join their peers in enjoying and having fun with mathematics. In this context, the importance of students ‘playing’ with mathematics during their lunch break was paramount, and many students were surprised when they did not have to do ‘sums’. One Maths Club school teacher said,‘I can see how engaged students are with hands-on activities and it reminds me about how important they are’. As previously discussed, the Maths Club raised the profle and visibility of mathematics in the school.The students were disappointed when the Maths Club ended.

Pre-service teachers The Design and Make Day created opportunities for the PSTs to focus on individual students and their learning needs as they worked with them in small groups for the day.The PSTs did not know in advance the particular learning needs of the


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students in their allocated group, only the grade level of the class to which they were allocated. As such, they needed to make on-the-spot, informal assessments early in the day in a similar way to a new class teacher at the beginning of the year or a casual teacher working with a class for the frst time. Not all of the PSTs were comfortable with this situation, and some made comments in their refective evaluations that knowledge of students’ special needs before the day would have assisted their planning. Being in a teaching team, however, provided a higher teacher–student ratio than the PSTs were used to, and they were able to adapt and modify their plans to suit student needs. One in-service teacher commented in a refective evaluation that ‘my class benefted greatly from the small group environment so that all students were guaranteed success’, which is refective of the PSTs successfully supporting student learning and tailoring their plans as necessary. The Maths Club enabled the PSTs to develop deeper, broader content knowledge in specifc topics in mathematics, sometimes taking them outside the syllabus documents that they usually used to plan their classroom-based mathematics lessons. Their confdence increased in designing, teaching and evaluating the handson activities, with the main aim of experimenting with mathematics. As one PST refected, ‘Gaining real-life mathematical teaching to engage students in a supportive environment, provided us with experience no written assignment could ever do’. The PSTs believed they were now equipped with the critical skills and understandings that would enable them to implement innovative programmes in the schools they taught in once they had completed their degrees. They gained new insights into the possibilities of hands-on activities for mathematics learning, especially in the context of a maths club. They also experienced being a member of an authentic professional learning community as they interacted with the teachers at the school and the mathematics teacher educators and therefore learned the benefts of such collaboration. Key to the success of both initiatives was collaboration: 1 2 3

Planning between the school and university, among the PSTs and teacher educators, and by the students as they participated in tasks. Team teaching by the PSTs to primary students and small group learning for the students. Refection within and among stakeholder groups.

For the PSTs, in particular, the tasks were ‘real’ in that they actually implemented and evaluated their planned activities, and the assessment tasks for their respective ITE science and technology and mathematics subjects were embedded in the initiatives. Participation by PSTs encouraged their refecting on the nature of mathematics and science learning and promoted their skills in designing rich tasks, encouraged creativity and provided support and ideas for delivering STEM education in a primary school. Such successful, authentic experiences of STEM teaching in initial teacher education are considered vital professional learning that PSTs carry positively into their teaching careers.

School–university partnerships


Notes 1 Primary Connections is a comprehensive science and literacy program based on the 5Es and aligned to the Australian curriculum. 2 In NSW, kindergarten (K) is the frst year of formal schooling, referred to as foundation in the Australian curriculum. Children in K would be around fve years of age. 3 In the Australian curriculum, there are seven general capabilities: literacy; numeracy; information and communication technology; critical and creative thinking; personal and social capability; ethical understanding; and intercultural understanding. 4 In the New Zealand curriculum, there are fve key competencies: thinking; using language, symbols and text; managing self; relating to others; and participating and contributing.

References Adams, J., Brigandi, A., & Sandin, E. (2012). 21st-Century Skills. Retrieved from https:// Australian Academy of Science. (n.d.). Primary connections: Linking science with literacy. Retrieved from Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.). Australian curriculum. Retrieved from Avraamidou, L. (2013). Prospective elementary teachers’ science teaching orientations and experiences that impacted their development. International Journal of Science Education, 35(10), 1698–1724. Butler Wolf, N. (2015). Modeling with mathematics: Authentic problem-solving in middle school. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann. Dohn, N. B. (2013). Situational interest in engineering design activities. International Journal of Science Education, 35(12), 2057–2078. Fogarty, R. (1991). The mindful school: How to integrate the curricula. Palatine, IL: Skylight. Foster, C. (2018). Developing mathematical fuency: Comparing exercises and rich tasks. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 97(2), 121–141. Jacobs, H. H. (1989). Interdisciplinary curriculum: Design and implementation. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Jones, M., Hobbs, L., Kenny, J., Campbell, C., Chittleborough, G., Gilbert,A., . . . Redman, C. (2016). Successful university-school partnerships: An interpretive framework to inform partnership practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 60(1), 108–120. Lunenberg, M. (2010). Characteristics, scholarship and research of teacher educators. In P. Peterson, E. Baker, & B. McGaw (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (3rd ed., pp. 676–680). Oxford: Elsevier Science. Mansfeld, C. F., & Woods-McConney,A. (2012).‘I didn’t always perceive myself as a science person’: Examining effcacy for primary science teaching. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(10), 37–52. Menon, D., & Sadler,T. D. (2016). Preservice elementary teachers’ science self-effcacy beliefs and science content knowledge. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 27(6), 649–673. Mettas, A. C., & Constantinou, C. C. (2007).The technology fair: A project-based learning approach for enhancing problem-solving skills and interest in design and technology education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 18(1), 79–100. Ministry of Education. (2014). The New Zealand curriculum online: Key competencies. Retrieved from Mizala, A., Martinez, F., & Martinez, S. (2015). Pre-service elementary school teachers’ expectations about student performance: How their beliefs are affected by their mathematics anxiety and student’s gender. Teaching and Teacher Education, 50(1), 70–78.


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Norton, S. (2017). Primary mathematics trainee teacher confdence and its relationship to mathematical knowledge. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42(2), 47–61. O’Toole, J., & Beckett, D. (2010). Educational research: Creative thinking and doing. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. Prescott, A., & Pressick-Kilborn, K. (2015). It’s great to be doing maths! Engaging primary students in a lunchtime club. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 20(3), 34–39. Pressick-Kilborn, K. (2015). Canalization and connectedness in the development of science interest. In K.A. Renninger, M. Nieswandt, & S. Hidi (Eds.), Interest in mathematics and science learning (pp. 353–367).Washington, DC:American Educational Research Association. Pressick-Kilborn, K., & Prescott,A. (2017). Engaging primary children and preservice teachers in a whole school design and make day: The evaluation of a creative science and technology collaboration. Teaching Science, 63(1), 18–26. Roberts,A., & Cantu, D. (2012, June).Applying STEM instructional strategies to design and technology curriculum. In T. Ginner, J. Hallström, & M. Hultén (Eds.), Technology education in the 21st century (pp. 111–118). Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press; Linköpings universitet. Timms, M., Moyle, K., Weldon, P., & Mitchell, P. (2018). Challenges in STEM learning in Australian schools: Literature and policy review. Melbourne,Victoria: Australian Council for Education Research.

8 WHAT DO PRIMARY TEACHERS THINK ABOUT STEM EDUCATION? Exploring cross-cultural perspectives Kathy Smith, Sindu George and Jennifer Mansfeld

Introduction STEM education has been positioned as a global priority (Panizzon, Corrigan, Forgasz, & Hopkins, 2015; Marginson,Tytler, Freeman, & Roberts, 2013), yet the associated demands of such aspirations are confronting education systems worldwide. Much has been written about the challenges of enacting effective STEM education, particularly when the acronym is characterised by vague defnitions (Panizzon et al., 2015). For educators, tensions often begin to emerge when education and economic agendas become confated, placing stronger emphases on schools as part of the STEM pipeline for future workforces rather than a place that nurtures and inspires the academic achievement and personal development of every student (Lyon, Jafri, & St Louis, 2012). STEM disciplines have long been seen as diffcult and disengaging areas of study for many students and challenging for primary teachers, who may hold limited background knowledge in these areas. Concern has been raised about the capacity of teachers, particularly primary teachers, to assist students in developing the required conceptual knowledge, skills and capabilities associated with effective STEM education (Lottero-Perdue & Parry, 2017).There is also concern about the capacity of teachers to fnd more effective ways to meet the learning needs of a diverse range of learners, ensuring that each student is highly engaged and develops a positive sense of achievement and self-effcacy in STEM education (Lyon et al., 2012; Milesi, Perez-Felkner, Brown, & Schneider, 2017). At a time when schools and teachers are grappling with the place of STEM education within existing educational demands and priorities, it is important to consider the infuences at play that determine how teachers defne student achievement and how they attend to student learning.This chapter discusses the fndings of a small cross-cultural study exploring STEM education with primary teachers from


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Australia and from India. The study set out to determine what primary teachers think about STEM education and the support that they feel they need to enhance their practice and student learning. However, the fndings also revealed that culture and social norms infuence how these teachers think and work in STEM education, ultimately shaping the learning opportunities they create for their students.

STEM education – why does it matter? STEM education has been positioned as a global priority, particularly for all countries seeking to consolidate a competitive place in the world’s future economy (English, 2016; Marginson et al., 2013; NAE & NRC, 2014).The STEM acronym has developed ‘wide currency’ (NAE & NRC, 2014, p.VII) among governments and education policy developers worldwide. In Australia, the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016–2026 (Education Council, 2015) was agreed to by all Australian education ministers. In the United Kingdom, a 2016 report entitled UK STEM education landscape (Morgan, Kirby, & Stamenkovic, 2016) highlighted the need for better coordinated STEM education for the young. In September 2017, the US president signed a presidential memorandum to expand access to high-quality STEM education for young people, aiming to devote US$200 million annually in grant funds towards this area. New Zealand has been encouraging schools to promote STEM education, with the Ministry of Education supporting teacher training programmes such as Teach First and the Manaiakalani Digital Teachers Academy Program.These initiatives are often driven by the need to enhance a national capacity for innovation.There is also an aspiration to sustain employment, not only in the STEM felds but more widely, to ensure that economic, environmental and social initiatives are developed and implemented effectively. While there is a strong emphasis in the literature on an economic imperative to position schools as part of a ‘pipeline’ (Watt, 2016; Tytler, Osborne, Williams, Tytler, & Clark, 2008) to future workforces, STEM initiatives are also beginning to highlight the importance of engaging educators in the STEM agenda.This engagement ensures that an emphasis is maintained on student learning and well-being, which are critical to the work of education.

Enacting STEM education Concerns have been raised about the challenges associated with enacting effective STEM education which moves beyond content knowledge and also develops, for each student, a strong sense of self by providing opportunities to develop a sense of achievement and positive self-effcacy (Lyon et al., 2012; Milesi et al., 2017). This requires teachers to be aware of the many events and expectations that infuence student motivation for learning, including interactions taking place both at home and at school which infuence how students think about STEM education. The infuence of these interactions may differ depending on cultural norms. Since culture affects many aspects of social systems, including the psychological, sociological,

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political and economic functioning of these systems (Hofstede & Bond, 1984), any attempts to support the development of STEM education must consider the infuence of the cultural context on schools, teachers and students.To date, little is known about the relationship between culture and STEM education, particularly in terms of how culture infuences the ways teachers enact STEM education and the support they seek to enhance their teaching.

STEM education in India and Australia – differences and similarities Primary teachers from India and from Australia were invited to discuss their understandings, their teaching practices and their aspirations for STEM education. The fndings revealed some key differences in the ways primary teachers working in each country think about STEM education; their role as educators; the role of the student; and the nature of the professional development that they were seeking to support their work in STEM education. The ‘inherently shared motives, values beliefs and identities and interpretations’ (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004, p. 15) were different for each, defning each group as a cultural collective.To further understand STEM education in each country, the following sections discuss India’s and Australia’s respective national investments in STEM education, the respective education systems and curriculum and the expectations of teachers in each country.

Investment In Australia and India, STEM education has been highly promoted through signifcant fnancial investment. India has a population over 1.3 billion, and the Indian government in the fnancial period from 2018 to 2019 committed 536.2 billion rupees (US$8.4 billion) to STEM education (Padmar, 2018). For the same period, the Australian government invested $5.1 million (US$3.46 million) for a signifcantly smaller population of 23.2 million people (Australian Government, Department of Education). Although, in each country, STEM education is a political and economic imperative, it is still diffcult to ensure that STEM education is meaningful for students. In India, the complexity of the education system and high-stakes testing adds further layers of complexity to this situation.

Education systems The Indian education system is one of the largest and most complex systems in the world (British Council, 2014). Approximately 260 million children are enrolled in classes of ages one to 12, in 15.1 million schools all over India (Sharma & Yarlagadda, 2018). According to the recommendations of the Indian Education Commission, the country follows a 7 + 3 + 2 system: seven years of primary, three years of secondary and two years of higher secondary education (Kothari, 1966). On


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completing year ten (public examination conducted by the state government, Ministry of Education) students are eligible for the Secondary School Leaving Certifcate (SSLC). Based on their scores, they can either continue with higher secondary school studies or join vocational higher secondary school, similar to the Victorian Certifcate of Applied Learning (VCAL) in Australia, or join poly technique, similar to technical and further education (TAFE) in Australia. In contrast to India, school education is similar across all areas of Australia, with only minor variations between the six states and two territories. School education (primary and secondary) is compulsory between the ages of six and 16. In Australia, school education comprises 13 years and is divided into the following: primary school – seven or eight years, starting at the foundation level through to year six or seven; secondary school – three or four years, from years seven to ten or eight to ten; and senior secondary school – two years, years 11 and 12. Students who complete their secondary school programme at year 12 or equivalent are awarded the Senior Secondary Certifcate of Education. Students then leave school to undertake vocational or higher-education courses and/or start work. Australia has a national curriculum, the Australian curriculum, which provides a clear understanding of what students should learn, regardless of where they live or the school system that they are in.The states and territories in Australia and non-government education authorities are responsible for delivering the Australian curriculum, including decisions about implementation timeframes, classroom practices and complimentary resources.

Curriculum and STEM In the Australian curriculum, science, technology and mathematics sit within the eight key learning areas (ACARA, 2019). Note that engineering is not listed as a key learning area, but design technologies, an aspect of the technologies learning area, outlines learning most closely aligned with the design process that is inherently a part of engineering. The Australian curriculum also outlines seven general capabilities – literacy; numeracy; information and communication technology capability; critical and creative thinking; personal and social capability; intercultural understanding; and ethical understanding. These capabilities are important contributors to STEM learning.There is no explicit STEM curriculum. Because India is such a diverse country, with 29 states and seven union territories (World Population Review, n.d.), which are diverse in cultures, traditions, languages and practices, there is no standardised curriculum in India such as that in Australia. Instead, each state has the autonomy to design the curriculum for schools affliated to the respective state government. There are schools affliated with one of two national boards: the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or the Council for the Indian School Certifcate Examination (CISCE). Schools follow CBSE and CICSE curricula respectively, which are different from state curricula. These CBSE and ICSE curricula are the same throughout the country (British Council, 2014). Because of the different curricula, the country lacks clear guidelines regarding STEM education (Sharma & Yarlagadda, 2018). Similar to Australia,

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science and mathematics are taught as separate subjects in schools. Recently, ICT has been included as a subject of study in many schools, although it is not a mandatory subject. Engineering is not mentioned in any of India’s school curricula. Regular, standardised testing is integral to the Indian education system. Each term, students are required to take standardised exams for each subject. The academic promotions of students to the subsequent year level and students future career pathways depend on the numerical scores they earn on their end-of-year exams. In Australia, standardised testing occurs but to a lesser extent.The National Assessment Program in Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment for all students in years three, fve, seven and nine. It tests the types of skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life.The tests cover skills in grammar and punctuation, reading, writing, spelling and numeracy.

Cultural expectations of primary teachers In India and in Australia, the work of primary teachers is defned by their generalist role.While working to develop their own understandings about the STEM disciplines, they must also fnd effective ways to teach all STEM areas with young students. Cultural expectations also defne the work of these teachers. Hofstede (1986) identifed four cultural dimensions that contribute to such cultural variation. One of these, individualism versus collectivism, concerns an individual’s dependence on the group.The construct of collectivism refects a culture where ‘people’s behavior is a consequence of norms, duties, and obligations’ (Triandis, 2018, p. XIII). In a collectivist culture, people frequently subordinate their personal goals to those of their collectives. In this case, teachers are driven by the goals of the education system as a whole. In an individualistic culture, there is more of a tendency for people to feel detached and more autonomous, where social behaviour is determined by personal goals, which take precedence; teachers make decisions driven by personal beliefs and aspirations. While there is danger of loss of clarity from overuse of such constructs (Triandis, 2018), when teachers in a particular country make repeated comments that align with either of these constructs, causing social patterns to emerge, this information may provide some insights into the infuence of culture on teacher thinking, in this case in relation to STEM education.

Primary STEM education – exploring cross-cultural perspectives To learn more about how primary teachers think about STEM education, and why they think and work in particular ways, this research was guided by the following questions: Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4

How do primary teachers understand STEM education? How do primary teachers enact STEM education? What infuences shape primary teacher practice in STEM education? What learning needs emerge as primary teachers discuss STEM education?


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Focus group approach A focus group approach was chosen as part of the methodology. This format was important since research suggests teachers lack confdence in STEM education (Nadelson, Callahan, Pyke, Hay, & Schrader, 2009) and since working in a group provided a sense of support for participants. This approach was seen as the most appropriate way to support teacher interactions and draw on a range of views while acknowledging the contextual differences in each school setting. The focus group format offered a way for teachers to develop their own questions and responses after listening to, or bouncing ideas off, each other, voicing their specifc needs and concerns in their own words and on their own terms (Liamputtong, 2016). The focus group format facilitated the type of interaction and discussion that was likely to expose a wide range of views about STEM education.The format also offered a forum for teachers from the same school context to engage in discussion to cocreate meanings and interpretations through a collective conversation (Liamputtong, 2016). The following key questions were used in the focus groups to invite discussion: • • • • •

What does STEM education mean to you? What is your understanding of the relationship between the STEM areas? What opportunities/constraints do you associate with STEM education? How does/might your teaching situation infuence STEM education? What learning do/might you focus on in STEM education?

Participants Teachers were recruited after relevant ethics approval was obtained. Because the project aimed to interview only a few schools from each country, participation was restricted to commutable locations in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia, and Karela, India. In the Australian context, teachers were recruited by using connections with Catholic Education Melbourne.Twelve teachers from three catholic schools chose to participate.Three focus groups were conducted, one at each school. In the Indian context, participants were drawn from government, Catholic and private school sectors.Thirty-two teachers from fve schools participated. Focus groups were conducted at each school. Participant details are outlined in Figure 8.1.

Data analysis Focus group interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Four researchers independently analysed transcripts for conceptual themes (Creswell, 2013). Researchers then came together to compare and discuss emerging themes. This collaborative analysis approach brought a diversity of perspectives to the data analysis (Cornish, Gillespie, & Zittoun, 2014).Themes were accepted if repeatedly evident across transcripts and agreed on by the majority of researchers. Furthermore, subthemes were

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Australian context (N =12)

Indian context (N = 32)

Metropolitan Melbourne,

Kerala, India


Victoria, Australia Sector

Catholic Schools

Government, Catholic, and


11 female, 1 male

25 female, 7 male

Leadership roles

Classroom teacher = 4

Classroom teacher = 14

Leadership position = 8

Leadership position = 18

Private Schools

Career stage (Huberman, 1989) Early (0–6 years)



Mid (7–18 years)



Late (19– 40 years)




Participant Group Demographics

identifed by the repeated use of language and alignment of particular examples. Themes in each cultural data set were compared to identify similarities and differences within and across the cultural contexts.

Primary teachers – socially constructing perspectives about STEM education The focus group format enabled teachers to discuss shared meanings (Crang & Cook, 2007), seeking validation.Through discussion, primary teachers in each cultural setting found common ground in shared everyday experiences, concerns or needs. The interaction enabled a ‘mirroring’ of ideas, which became essential to enable teachers to notice and own a position. The interactions in the focus groups enabled teachers in each cultural setting, to articulate shared frameworks of understanding about STEM, and through dialogue, their ideas progressively increased in clarity.This process was also benefcial in that it offered participants different perspectives, which they may or may not agree with. When teachers disagreed, it revealed something about their underlying beliefs and values. Other teachers were able to use this as an opportunity to review their own perspectives and consider their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing, possibly uncovering why there might be differences in viewpoints (Liamputtong, 2016).

Findings Across the focus groups conducted in Australia and India, similar perspectives were expressed about the intentions and aspirations associated with STEM education. Data analysis also revealed that teachers agreed that connections existed between the STEM disciplines. Yet the analysis also revealed that the primary teachers in


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each country talked about STEM teaching and learning in different ways. These perspectives defned each group as a cultural collective.

How do primary teachers understand STEM education? Primary teachers working in Australia and those working in India agreed that STEM education requires an integrated, holistic approach to learning that aims to improve the knowledge, skills and competencies required for future jobs.The similarity of ideas across the groups is captured in the following quotes: STEM to me is a way of, a different way of educating or providing an education for students; it’s looking at science, technology, engineering and mathematics and so combining those as a curriculum to drive the teaching and to get students ready for future, future jobs that are probably not even developed yet. (T1; FG1, Australia) STEM is Science,Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Learning these areas through an integrated approach is helpful in developing an understanding of these area from a future perspective. . . . I think STEM education will be helpful in building the problem-solving capacities of our students and make them more effcient to identify solutions to the problems that we may face in future. I am very positive about the scope of STEM education in a country like India. (T7; FG1, India) When prompted through focus group questions, teachers from both countries attempted to explain their understanding of each of the STEM disciplines.As generalists, primary teachers revealed interesting perspectives about ways of characterising each discipline. Science was often positioned as a context for STEM learning with an emphasis on conceptual knowledge and skills development. Mathematics, defned by number and measurement, appeared to be framed largely as applied mathematics.Teachers worked to differentiate technology between digital and the process applied to production – for example, plugged and unplugged.

How do primary teachers enact STEM education? Some shared understandings emerged from teachers in both countries, particularly about the emphasis on an integrated approach to STEM teaching and learning. Teachers in both groups considered that a ‘natural’ relationship existed between the four areas of STEM, but teachers in each cultural group explained this in quite different ways, revealing different teaching considerations and emphases. The primary teachers working in India identifed a need for teachers to make connections clearly visible to students by explicitly linking content within and across

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discipline areas.These primary teachers illustrated their thinking by providing examples, which emphasised the type of content links that they had recognised in recent teaching. When we teach health science in primary classes, we always talk about the need of water. Regular intake of water, need to keep our body hydrated. . . .All these points are repeatedly discussed in health science classes throughout the primary years. To make it clearer to students, we can say that they need to drink minimum 2 L water daily. We can show them how much is 2 L.They can compare the sizes of their drink bottles and see how much is their water intake [sic].We can further discuss what is a Litre, how to convert it to mL, and also introduce the concept of volume, which is mathematics. Now, when we say the measure in litres, we can ask them to consider making a container which accommodate 1 L of water.Volume of the container must be 1 L or 1000 mL. If we want such a container, what should be the measurements. . . .We need to make a container which is 10 cm in length, 10 cm in height, and 10 cm in breadth.They can make it with cardboard. Thus, we are bringing in the engineering aspects here, i.e., application of mathematics principles.When we make such containers, defnitely we can talk about technology, different containers that we see in our daily life and its manufacture, technology behind it all which can be discussed in the class. (T14; FG3, India) The primary teachers working in India used the content of each STEM discipline – that is, conceptual ideas and associated skills – to identify opportunities for integrating learning and highlighting a natural relationship which defned STEM learning. The primary teachers working in Australia emphasised using context as a way to connect the four disciplines. STEM was described as a mutually complementary approach to problem-solving, in particular a way to fnd a plausible solution: When you’re thinking about maths and sciences, that natural correlation, there’s lots of things that crossover in terms of measurement, posing a question or a problem and then having the students come to it with multiple answers and using different strategies. I think also then when you bring in the engineering side which is, you’re looking at using measurement skills, you’re looking at, probably looking at calculations of velocity and things like that; so you’ve got that crossover there in all those three subjects. (T5; FG2, Australia)

What infuences shape primary teacher practice in STEM education? The primary teachers working in India continued to emphasise content throughout their discussions, more specifcally when they explained the demands of curriculum and how this infuenced their role as primary teachers. In the fve focus groups conducted in India, the teachers emphasised the delivery of content as the


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main objective of their STEM teaching. All raised concerns regarding the ‘heavy curriculum’ in Indian schools and how hard it was for primary teachers to effectively teach these content areas to help students to learn and achieve the best learning outcomes, in line with the expectations of authorities. Many participants noted that they were ‘literally rushing to cover the curriculum within the allocated time’ (e.g.T6; FG1, India).While Australian primary teachers were also concerned about a ‘crowded curriculum’, their comments demonstrated that they believed that they had some control in choosing the content to be taught at each year level, to enable the students to meet the set achievement standards in the curriculum. It was evident that the primary teachers working in India believed the demands and expectations of the societal context in which they worked required them to clearly demonstrate that they were teaching what was required in terms of the curriculum and guidelines. Being accountable to authority and parents for teaching the required content was a high priority.This emphasis on content was accompanied by many practical constraints: • •

Class size – ‘there are 61 students in my class, those sitting in the last rows, they are not getting anything from the teacher’ (T20; FG3, India). The lack of opportunity for teachers to make decisions about planning and teaching – ‘when we teach a topic, we just follow what the teachers’ manual says . . . never think of connecting this with practical life; students may make these connections’ (T32; FG5, India). The high value placed on the testing regime – ‘we have got a heavy curriculum to be covered in a specifc period each term. If we can’t cover the curriculum within that time, it is going to negatively affect the examination scores of students for which we stand accountable in front of leadership and parents. Nobody cares whether we have provided a meaningful learning experience to the students.What they need is outstanding achievement scores’ (T32; FG5, India).

The primary teachers working in India believed that the conditions and expectations which defned their teaching reality did not always allow them to ensure that STEM learning was a personally meaningful experience for each student in their classroom. An inherent tension existed between the heavy curriculum requirements and STEM aspirations for the development of capabilities such as critical and creative thinking. ‘There is no option for effective teaching, what we do is just racing to cover the curriculum’ (T4; FG1, India);‘Even though we argue for life-centred education . . . there is no consideration for students’ aptitude or creative thinking skills’ (T24; FG4, India). The teachers working in Australia placed a high priority on ensuring that learning was meaningful for their students: Looking at supermarkets and that’s something that they can all access and something they’ve all experienced . . . and so they were able to connect with it and understand that this can impact on them if we don’t do something and come up with solutions. (T6; FG2, Australia)

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Primary teachers working in Australia highlighted that curriculum demands sometimes meant their schools made decisions about planning that caused them to teach with a different emphasis each term. This often presented challenges for ongoing learning – for example,‘if the direction of the school is very much to plan an isolated unit or have a history term or a science term and you don’t have that opportunity to do that on an ongoing basis’ (T5; FG3,Australia).This had implications for STEM education, and this raised concerns for many of the teachers. However, while the Indian teachers felt constrained by such challenges, the Australian primary teachers’ comments indicated that the crowded curriculum required them to be more strategic in planning lessons and exploring opportunities: I would argue that STEM could be embedded into probably every inquiry that we facilitate, but you need to be like strategic around the thinking and make it purposeful so that the children actually are in a different place in their understandings by the experience that we give them. So, it might be performing arts, but you could also build in STEM because I might have a whiz bang set stage that has got hydraulics in it or something like that. So use your imagination but be strategic. (T3; FG1, Australia) Primary teachers in India were highly concerned about the regime of testing and how this produced a practice of ‘teaching for examination’ or ‘examination-focused teaching’ rather than a student-centred or life-centred teaching practice.‘Nowadays teaching can be considered as preparation for exams. Children and parents are only concerned about scoring 90 or 95 above in the exams so that they can get into the courses of their choice’ (T11; FG2, India).They stated that the practice of emphasising the learning of theoretical concepts and then testing how well the students were able to reproduce these concepts had restricted both teachers and students from making learning a meaningful experience.‘Each school is striving to achieve something unique that other schools can’t. So, teachers are under pressure . . . and students too I would say, to showcase what they can achieve. . . . It could be the prizes won in competitive examinations’ (T20; FG3, India). Primary teachers working in India were worried about the faws in this system, especially the lack of methods to assess those 21st-century skills including creative and critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Some of their comments included: ‘Assessment tasks should not be just reproducing what students have learned in the classroom. Anyone who can memorise the defnitions or other key points can recite these and score good marks, which is happening in our current system’ (T6; FG1, India). Even though we say life-oriented education, what we practise is examoriented teaching.We need to focus on results.We need to highlight overall performance level of school, it is a kind of competition between schools . . . I think this attitude is a big concern. (T24; FG4, India)


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Although teachers working in both cultural contexts experienced the demands of external standardised testing, the impact of the Indian assessment regime greatly infuenced how primary teachers working in India thought about teaching and learning in STEM. Although differences emerged across the cultural groups, all teachers agreed that an individual teacher’s positive attitude, their skills and knowledge and, most importantly, a willingness to learn and improve were the key factors for successful implementation of STEM education. All agreed that they needed professional support to enhance STEM education, but the nature of the support that teachers valued differed depending on their cultural context.

What learning needs emerge as primary teachers discuss STEM education? There was a notable difference in the ways primary teachers working in both cultural contexts thought about the professional support they needed to enhance STEM education.The primary teachers working in Australia expressed a desire to experience professional learning opportunities which enabled personal growth:‘it’s about us demonstrating a growth mindset and being prepared to commit to perhaps resourcing a little bit more or doing a little bit of professional learning to ensure that we maintain the integrity of the STEM’ (T3; FG1,Australia).There was a clear appreciation among these teachers of the expertise that other teachers held.The primary teachers working in Australia wanted to learn more about STEM through collaborative work with other teachers.This type of experience was seen as an opportunity for professional learning: because we encourage already at planning time to have lots of talk among your colleagues you feel more supported and then you build on each other’s ideas and you end up coming up with a much better idea than you even started. And I think that stems from leadership that’s how we plan already and doing something like STEM I think needs the teachers to collaborate as much as you expect your students to. (T9; FG2, Australia) The need of support from leadership was further evident in a comment by a teacher who was in a leadership position: ‘I think for me in my role in the school, it’s also about helping teachers to see the connections across the curriculum areas’ (T10; FG3, Australia). The primary teachers in India valued and were seeking a different type of professional support.They used the terms professional training and in-service training. Unlike their Australian counterparts, the Indian teachers did not express an interest to learn from other teachers and were instead seeking more-specifc and more-effective training by those outside of schools, whom they referred to as experts in the feld. I think we need further opportunities to build our own capacities . . . the current formats of cluster training are not going to be of much help, we

Primary teachers on STEM education


need better and effective training opportunities. If we are to practise STEM education in its complete meaning, we need to consider more intensive and comprehensive training modules by experts in this feld. (T4; FG1, India) Expertise was seen as external to the school environment, and there was no recognition that colleagues may hold the expertise they desired. This attitude was refected in their comments:‘it would be really good if we could get some modules which clearly show what a STEM lesson looks like and some guidelines regarding what opportunities can we explore within the current teaching context’ (T8; FG2, India).This was further evident in the following comment:‘there should be opportunities for us to get trained by experts’ (T17; FG3, India).The desire to work with external experts in the feld and the need to develop specifc modules that could be directly implemented in the classroom were not identifed by the primary teachers working in the Australian context.

Discussion Key differences emerged, most importantly in how these primary teachers framed STEM learning in response to cultural expectations, which shaped their professional responsibilities as teachers. Culture also infuenced how these primary teachers perceived their own learning needs, particularly the role of teachers as learners and their interpretations of expertise in STEM education. Despite the siloed nature of the STEM disciplines in curriculum documents in both countries, teachers described STEM as an integrated approach to learning, with an emphasis on building connections across these learning areas. However, differences emerged in what teachers paid attention to as they planned to develop such connections and implement STEM learning opportunities.The primary teachers working in Australia, when faced with a crowded curriculum, saw the need to be strategically developing more authentic learning, creating opportunities that linked students to investigations in the world around them: using real-world problems. In contrast, primary teachers working in India felt the load of a heavy curriculum and in response strongly emphasised content and the need to cover curriculum requirements.This determined how they used their teaching time and the nature of the experiences they provided for their students.The Indian teachers saw that part of their teaching responsibilities was to prepare students to pass exams, and they needed to ensure that students were given access to the information they required.This approach became a key indicator of success. However, these teachers recognised that a tension existed between, on one hand, any aspirational expectations that STEM education would promote innovation, creativity and problem-solving and, on the other, the teaching approach that they adopted. They believed that the accountability of high-stakes assessment signifcantly reduced the likelihood that such outcomes could be the focus of their teaching. Teachers in both countries responded differently to curriculum demands; autonomous decision-making compared with subordination of personal goals to those of the collective.These responses refect Hofstede’s (1986) work around the dimension


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of collectivism and individualism. As previously discussed, this dimension refers to the extent to which individuals of a society are perceived as autonomous (Felbrich, Kaiser, & Schmotz, 2014).An individualistic perspective is one where learners are perceived as self-directed. It appeared that the Australian primary teachers saw themselves as key to building student capacity to undertake such self-directed learning.Their comments indicated that they saw their responsibility was to engage students in relevant contexts for STEM learning and attend to student learning needs. Problem-solving was highly valued, as was the development of a range of capabilities and dispositions, which remained a focus in the face of demanding curriculum expectations. If their students experienced diffculty, then these teachers believed that it was their responsibility as educators to fnd ways to ensure that learning was more meaningful. These teachers believed they had a responsibility to support each individual student to develop deep understanding along with the ability to apply knowledge in the future in a variety of situations. The perspectives about learning described by teachers working in India aligned more closely with a collectivist dimension. These teachers believed that learners hold a strong collective sense of obligation to teachers, family and other social entities (Felbrich et al., 2014), and the culture in which they worked placed high value on information and content as a commodity in education. These teachers were driven by the consequences of high-stakes testing; they needed and expected students to be profcient in the application of theories and formulae (Felbrich et al., 2014).The Indian teachers understood that their responsibility was to provide the information that students needed to be successful. While the Indian teachers also felt obliged to provide the learner with necessary support, any underperformance or lack of success on the part of the student was ultimately assigned to a lack of effort of the learner. If the teachers covered the information, then they had carried out the responsibility assigned to them. These different perspectives go some way towards explaining why teachers worked in different ways and perhaps why they valued different types of support for their professional learning needs. In Australia, primary teachers highly valued opportunities for professional learning which were designed to meet their personal learning needs. Personalising teacher learning appeared to be important because it would enable them to continue to develop and effectively position their knowledge within their school context to enhance overall STEM education.With these intentions in mind, sectors and education systems in Australia could promote teacher learning by positioning teachers as educational leaders both in schools and across sectors. Professional learning could more actively encourage primary teachers to share knowledge and contribute to a wider discourse in STEM education. Teachers working in India valued the development of a ‘programme’ linking directly and meaningfully to the challenges they faced in their particular school context and the curriculum they must follow.Teachers wanted to be supported by others outside of teaching and provided with models of STEM teaching that were manageable and in line with expectations and government aspirations but that also highlighted the importance of individual STEM learning. Such programmes may

Primary teachers on STEM education


not be diffcult to develop, and there is obviously a demand for such support. However, there is also much to be gained by drawing from the considerations which inform the preferred learning of the primary teachers working in Australian schools. Teachers working in India could also be encouraged to work together with other teachers working in similar contexts, sharing their learning and the insights they gained about the implementation of STEM education in their classrooms. In this way, the likelihood of collective professional STEM education may be increased. This could be done by simply encouraging teachers to share their practice.

Conclusion A cross-cultural study to understand more about how primary teachers think about and enact STEM education revealed some interesting insights into how cultural expectations and aspirations impacted primary STEM education. To provide the most appropriate support for primary teachers as they work to enhance STEM education, it is important to take time to notice and respond appropriately to these different cultural perspectives. This is the thinking that determines the type of learning opportunities that young people receive in STEM education. It is therefore important to recognise culture as a key infuence which potentially determines the different ways that primary teachers think about and work in STEM education.

References Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2019). Foundation to year 10 curriculum: Science. Retrieved from au/f-10-curriculum/science/ British Council. (2014). Indian school education system: An overview. Retrieved from www. 1.pdf Cornish, F., Gillespie, A., & Zittoun, T. (2014). Collaborative analysis of qualitative data. In The SAGE handbook of qualitative data analysis. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications. Crang, M., & Cook, I. (2007). Doing ethnographies. London, UK: SAGE Publications. Creswell, J.W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among fve approaches. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications. Education Council. (2015).The national STEM school education strategy 2016–2026:A comprehensive plan for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Australia. Retrieved from English, L. D. (2016). STEM education K-12: Perspectives on integration. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(3), 1–8. Felbrich, A., Kaiser, G., & Schmotz, C. (2014). The cultural dimension of beliefs: An investigation of future primary teachers’ epistemological beliefs concerning the nature of mathematics in 15 countries. In S. Blömeke, H. Feng-Jui, G. Kaiser, & W. H. Schmidt (Eds.), International perspectives on teacher knowledge, beliefs and opportunities to learn. Dordrecht,The Netherlands: Springer. Hofstede, G. (1986). Cultural differences in teaching and learning. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(3), 301–320.


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Hofstede, G., & Bond, M. H. (1984). Hofstede’s culture dimensions: An independent validation using Rokeach’s value survey. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 15(4), 417–433. House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P.W., & Gupta,V. (2004). Culture, leadership and organisations:The GLOBE study of 62 societies.Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Kothari, D. S. (1966). Report of the education commission 1964–66. India: Ministry of Education, Government of India. Retrieved from EducationCommission1964-66D.S.KothariReport/48.Jp-ReportOfTheEducationCommission1964-66d.s.kothari_djvu.txt Liamputtong, P. (2016). Focus group methodology: Principles and practice. London, UK: SAGE Publications. Lottero-Perdue, P. S., & Parry, E. A. (2017). Perspectives on failure in the classroom by elementary teachers new to teaching engineering. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER), 7(1), 4. Lyon, G. H., Jafri, J., & St Louis, K. (2012). Beyond the pipeline: STEM pathways for youth development. Afterschool Matters, 16, 48–57. Marginson, S., Tytler, R., Freeman, B., & Roberts, K. (2013). STEM: Country comparisons. Melbourne,Victoria:Australian Council of Learned Academies. Milesi, C., Perez-Felkner, L., Brown, K., & Schneider, B. (2017). Engagement, persistence, and gender in computer science: Results of a smartphone ESM study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 602. Morgan, R., Kirby, C., & Stamenkovic, A. (2016, May). The UK STEM education landscape. London, UK: Royal Academy of Engineering. Nadelson, L. S., Callahan, J., Pyke, P., Hay, A., & Schrader, C. (2009, June 14–17). A systemic solution: Elementary teacher preparation in STEM expertise and engineering awareness. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings,Austin,TX. National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council (NAE & NRC). (2014). STEM integration in K-12 education: Status, prospects, and an agenda for research.Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Padmar,T.V. (2018). Indian science budget fails to impress despite funding boost: Ministers announce detailed spending plans, with focus on artifcial intelligence and cyber systems. Nature International Journal of Science. Springer. Retrieved from d41586-018-01504-5 Panizzon, D., Corrigan, D., Forgasz, H., & Hopkins, S. (2015). Impending STEM shortages in Australia: Beware the ‘smoke and mirrors’. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 167, 70–74. Sharma, J., & Yarlagadda, P. K. D.V. (2018). Perspectives of ‘STEM education and policies’ for the development of a skilled workforce in Australia and India. International Journal of Science Education, 40(16), 1999–2022. doi:10.1080/09500693.2018.1517239 Triandis, H. C. (2018). Individualism and collectivism. New York, NY: Routledge. Tytler, R., Osborne, J., Williams, G., Tytler, K., & Clark, J. C. (2008). Opening up pathways: Engagement in STEM across the primary- secondary school transition. Canberra, ACT: Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Retrieved from Watt, H. (2016). Promoting girls’ and boys’ engagement and participation in senior secondary STEM felds and occupational aspirations. ACER Research Conference 2016, Improving STEM learning: What will it take? Retrieved from viewconte nt.cgi?article=1285&context=research_conference

9 THE ROLE OF THE MAKER FAIRE IN STEM ENGAGEMENT Messages for teacher professional development Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu

Introduction With the call by governments from the globe to develop students’ STEM and entrepreneurship skills, many schools are developing new STEM curricula by integrating ideas from STEM disciplines, using inquiry-based pedagogies (e.g. Honey, Pearson, & Schweingruber, 2014; English, 2016). As part of this move, there has been an increasing interest by teachers to capitalise on the design and engineering practices in ‘making’ in order to bring this strategy into schools and enhance students’ STEM experiences. Bevan and colleagues (2015) state that ‘Making is promoted as advancing entrepreneurship, developing a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce, and supporting compelling inquiry-based learning experiences for young people’. Martin (2015) further describes making as ‘focused on designing, building, modifying, and/or repurposing material objects, for playful or useful ends, oriented toward making a “product” of some sort that can be used, interacted with, or demonstrated’ (p. 31). One outcome of ‘making’ is involvement in a maker faire.A maker faire is a physical space in a bounded time, where makers (people who design and make things) can share their projects with ‘people of all ages and of various careers and hobbies gather to showcase work and learn from one another’ (Harlow & Hansen, 2018). While the potential benefts of these experiences are emerging, little research describes the possible advantages of them, including Maker Faires as part of teacher professional development and the effect on student engagement with key STEM ideas. Given the newness of many of the pedagogies associated with ‘making’ through design, professional development that builds teachers’ capacity to design curricula and uses inquiry approaches in STEM contexts can be best


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served when there is an opportunity for teachers to share the outcomes of their own learning and the ‘making’ of their students. This chapter explores the outcomes of a primary teacher professional development programme focused on STEM and entrepreneurship that included a maker faire as a key component of the programme. We describe the process that the academics undertook to develop the programme and also explore the role of the Maker Faire in student learning by showcasing the range of projects and activities that students shared and participated in. Also identified is the learning of teachers and students, drawing on survey and interview data from a number of schools participating in the programme. We focus on the following question: ‘What role did the Maker Faire play in STEM engagement of students and their teachers?’

STEM education and the maker movement Active learning and inquiry are fundamental to both the maker movement and STEM curricular and pedagogical innovation in schools (Albion, Campbell, & Jobling, 2018). Project-based approaches enable students to challenge themselves with questions, problems or scenarios.These approaches often involve teams of students working together to solve a problem; this social approach to learning provides a strong basis for the development of authentic STEM environments.The STEM projects tend to be multidisciplinary, with the opportunity for students to investigate different ways of solving a problem.The multiplicity of the possible outcomes for the projects enables students to recognise that there may be more than one ‘right answer’ to any problem and enhances their understanding of different ways to approach their search for a solution.When students engage in project-based challenges, they are able to apply their scientifc, mathematical or technological skills in an authentic way (Albion et al., 2018). Inquiry-based learning involves students ‘identifying and posing questions, planning, conducting and refecting on investigations, processing analysing and interpreting evidence and communicating fndings’ (ACARA, 2019). Kelley and Knowles (2016) indicate that students involved in STEM education can use scientifc inquiry to formulate questions that they can answer through investigation before they engage in the engineering design process to solve problems. Crippen and Archambault (2012) proposed a form of an inquiry-based approach as a possible pedagogy for STEM education.The use of a pedagogy in STEM would be expected to engage students with activities in which they behave in ways characteristic of a STEM ‘discipline’.This could equip them to better appreciate the different forms of inquiry that might be employed in STEM learning beyond the classroom. Making and the maker movement have grown out of the United States since 2006 from a collection of hobbyists, engineers and tinkerers who were committed to creating and building material objects for themselves and

Maker Faire in STEM engagement


others (Deloitte, 2014). The first Maker Faire took place in the Californian city of San Mateo in 2006, initiated by Dale Dougherty, who is often credited with the popularisation of the maker movement through his company Maker Media (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). Long-standing hobbies such as woodworking, sewing and electronics have been re-invigorated through the introduction of new digital tools and online networks, which have enabled sharing. Makerspaces have been developing in schools in Australia and New Zealand ( over the past few years, partly in response to the maker movement, but due also to calls by Australian and New Zealand governments ( for students to develop STEM skills. In Australia, government funding has supported the development of makerspaces in schools by providing explicit funding for that purpose (Andrews, 2018), while in New Zealand, the government has set up a learning website to provide advice and help for teachers. Schools developing a new STEM curriculum see makerspaces as a place in which students learn to break down ideas, to process information and to produce something new or novel. Students become makers in the real sense of the word. Previously, as part of a science or technology strategy, some teachers would have tinker tables in their classrooms – which is now recognised as a strategy for a class makerspace. Makerspaces provide students with significant autonomy over their work because they allow students to make choices about what they want to design and build. Using an inquiry-based approach where makers pose questions and decide what they want to do, the process in makerspaces allows students to become problem solvers and innovators. Seymour Papert is credited as ‘the father of the maker movement’ (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 17) because Papert’s theory of constructionism underpins the focus on problem-solving and making.The Papert and Harel (1991) theory discussed the role of embodied, production-based experiences in learning. Martinez and Stager (2013, p. 21) defne it further by indicating that learning occurs ‘by constructing knowledge through the act of making something shareable’. This movement towards making can also be linked to the increasing recognition of the importance of the body in learning, as demonstrated in play-based pedagogies (Roessingh & Bence, 2018) and the uptake of theories such as embodied cognition in the framing and designing of learning environments (Núñez, Edwards, & Matos, 1999; Niebert, Marsch, & Treagust, 2012). A visible and concrete outcome of students’ involvement in makerspaces is the Maker Faire frst developed in the United States (Deloitte, 2014).This is an offcial gathering of student makers and their projects where they can share their ideas and inventions. Makers exhibit projects in science and technology, engineering, arts/ crafts, electronics, digital technologies and other areas. Each project is designed as a display which may or may not be interactive but which provides an explanation of how the project works and what it does.A Maker Faire is also organised around


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hands-on activities where participants learn new things and new skills by trying things for themselves. Through interaction with other student makers and their projects, students can learn from each other. A Maker Faire explores innovation across all the felds of STEM and celebrates the achievements of students as they explore new ideas and technologies. Halverson and Sheridan (2014) comment that the Maker Faire blurs the boundaries between formal and informal learning, where discussion around learning is not necessarily governed by the constraints of formal curriculum. There are signifcant outcomes for students participating in the STEM challenges at a Maker Faire. By taking charge of their own projects and designing and developing their own solutions, students demonstrate autonomy. They also gain authorial agency when their ideas, their thoughts and their voices are recognised by others (and themselves) as the expert authority in relation to their STEM project and practices (Matusov, Soslau, Marjanovic-Shane, & von Duyke, 2016).The other tangible outcome is the recognition of producing something for a broader audience rather than themselves or their teachers that validates the work and effort that they have devoted to the STEM product. This public display of their work is a powerful motivating force towards a successful product and satisfactory outcome. Motivation is considered one of the underlying elements in students’ engagement and is said to be what drives students to complete a task or gain satisfaction from their personal achievements. ‘It is believed that motivation can be discerned through . . . behaviors such as choice of activities, level and quality of task engagement, persistence, and performance’ (Zusho, Pintrich, Arbor, & Coppola, 2003, p. 1081). Further research (Vansteenkiste, Simons, Lens, Sheldon, & Deci, 2004) suggests that students’ level of control over their own learning actually facilitates the learning process.‘Learning is an active process that functions optimally when students’ motivation is autonomous (vs controlled) for engaging in learning activities and assimilating new information’ (p. 247). For this to occur, teachers need to slowly and gently relinquish control over students’ learning. With respect to inquiry, there have been various models of inquiry which demonstrate the gradual release of control of learning into students’ hands (Hackling, Smith, & Murcia, 2010). Their guided inquiry model suggests that inquiry-based approaches can operate with varying degrees of openness, depending on teacher intervention and support.

Context of the SEPS programme In 2018, 22 teachers from 11 regional primary schools in Victoria, Australia, attended a STEM and entrepreneurship in primary school (SEPS) programme at a local university. The project, organised and run by three university STEM education academics, offered local schools three interrelated components: two days of targeted professional learning (PL); a Maker Faire for the display of

Maker Faire in STEM engagement


students’ STEM projects; and a two-day STEM education conference at the end of the project ( The initial two professional learning days targeted the development of knowledge and skills related to STEM and entrepreneurship.The professional learning was developed to support teacher capacity building in STEM and entrepreneurial thinking and to improve student engagement.The STEM conference was open to STEM professionals from a range of felds and offered the teachers an opportunity to share the STEM learning at their schools and learn about other STEM initiatives. The focus of the initial two-day PL workshop was to support primary teachers in developing and implementing a STEM makerspace programme at their school. The professional learning days included topics on STEM vision, entrepreneurship, STEM teaching strategies and STEM activities and were organised by university academics with industry support. Teachers were involved in interactive sessions which facilitated discussion and opportunities for sharing. A particular aspect of the PL was to provide teachers with suffcient background knowledge to develop their own STEM programme around their own school needs and context. Each school’s STEM activity would be showcased at a Maker Faire two months after the PL workshop. Although the Maker Faire was initially programmed to occur over two days, with local secondary schools providing support through the integration of digital displays, this was changed because secondary schools’ involvement was not needed. After the professional learning days, several out-of-school meetings of the teachers involved enabled them to discuss and refne the approaches that they were undertaking at their schools and to transmit that knowledge to the other teachers. Primary teachers and students involved directly in the project developed their own vision of what they wanted to incorporate in the Maker Faire.There was a developing ownership by the schools to ensure that the Maker Faire provided their students with opportunities to display their STEM knowledge and understanding through a range of activities. The partnership with the university and the STEM academics acted as a locus of information, but not of control. The role of the university academics was to facilitate the Maker Faire in the manner requested by the schools. This relinquishing of authority to the schools was viewed as a powerful indicator of the success of the project because teachers were developing confdence in their STEM strategies and adapting the Maker Faire to ft the needs of the schools and their students’ learning. Figure 9.1 illustrates the structure of the programme and the ways that academics, school teachers and students worked towards and interacted with the Maker Faire. Over 165 students and their teachers from 11 schools, participated in the local Maker Faire.The Maker Faire, held in an area open to tertiary engineering students, was a celebration of students’ achievements in their school STEM challenge and an opportunity for them to display their work to other teachers, other students and the general public.


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Maker Faire

The Maker Faire provided students with the opportunity to display and participate in a number of activities. Table 9.1 provides an outline of the activities presented at the Maker Faire. Some students put their completed projects on static display, where they interacted with the broader student and teacher audience to explain their projects. Some student displays were interactive, allowing for other students to try a working model or participate in some associated activity related to the display. Some activities were student-led experiences which were open to other students to participate in.The fnal group of STEM activities presented at the Maker Faire were those presented by external experts – invited scientists from a range of industry contexts.The STEM disciplines represented in each activity are indicated, with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches evident. The photographs below visually show some of the activities undertaken by students (Figures 9.2 and 9.3).

Offered by SCHOOL R (see Figure 9.3)

Offered by Deakin STEM education specialist


Offered by SCHOOL C Minigolf courses construction – students participate in a round of golf on the holes STEM disciplines: maths, design technologies (engineering) Offered by SCHOOL B Case Study school discussed below) Design a game experience STEM disciplines: maths, design technologies (engineering) Offered by SCHOOL Y (see Figure 9.2)

Tinker boxes – small activities showcasing tinkering – quick problems and activities STEM discipline: problem-solving

STEM discipline: digital technologies Offered by SCHOOL M

iPad interactive – activities related to physical science

Augmented reality

Hands-on learning to design and construct a flm canister rocket STEM discipline: science Offered by SCHOOL F

STEM discipline: digital technologies (see Figure 1.1) Offered by Deakin IT specialist Materials – presentation of different materials and Design and construct a sound machine that makes how they are made some different notes STEM disciplines: science, design technologies STEM disciplines: science, technologies (engineering) Offered by Institute for Frontier Materials Offered by SCHOOL W Marble run mania activity – create a marble, run on Separation techniques – talk and activities related to separation techniques (chromatography) a pegboard that keeps the marble running for the longest time STEM disciplines: maths, design technologies STEM discipline: science (engineering) Offered by Institute for Frontier Materials Offered by SCHOOL Z Bee-bots, cubettos and spheros guided ‘play’ Creating bioplastics STEM discipline: digital technologies STEM discipline: science

Students projects – interactive discussions

External maker providing interactive presentation

Student presentations on STEM ideas

TABLE 9.1 Maker Faire activities

EXPO – Students presented their projects and interacted with the viewing audience of parents, teachers and other students 1. Commonwealth Games – geographic features – create a country, offered by SCHOOL A 2. Display of students’ light and sound gadgets, photos, pictures and their design thinking process, offered by SCHOOL W 3. Five different arcade games with some documentation of their design process on display, offered by SCHOOL Y 4. The best designs presented by students from grades four through to year eight, offer by SCHOOL Z 5. Showcasing towers they built based through inquiry into different countries, offered by SCHOOL V

Offered by SCHOOL X

Makedo – hands-on construction and problemDesign and construct a sound machine that makes solving using cardboard and recyclables some different notes using digital technologies STEM disciplines: digital technologies, science, STEM disciplines: digital technologies, science, design technologies (engineering) design technologies (engineering) Offered by SCHOOL X Offered by Deakin music educator

A digital STEM workshop – either Edison Robots/ spheros or Makey Makey STEM discipline: digital technologies

Students projects – interactive discussions

External maker providing interactive presentation

Student presentations on STEM ideas

TABLE 9.1 (Continued)


Augmented reality


Augmented reality


Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu

Evaluating the outcomes of the Maker Faire Methodology There is little formal empirical research on the benefts of maker faires. One study, by Harlow and Hansen (2018, p. 36), which investigated the value of school maker faires for pre-service knowledge development, suggested that the Maker Faire offered school students opportunities to ‘develop understandings of disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and the crosscutting concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)’.They also commented on the snowball effect on local teachers, who began to implement making and maker faires in their classroom practice. In undertaking this project, we intended that data were collected which would provide insight not just into the whole project but also into the value of the Maker Faire as a strategy for students’ engagement with STEM-based learning. We employed a combination of formative evaluation and summative evaluation processes which drew on data generated through a mixed-method research design (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004; Creswell, 2014). The intention was to describe and measure changes in teacher STEM and entrepreneurship teaching practices and student attitudes and engagement in relation to STEM and entrepreneurship. Methods for data collection for this study include student participant surveys, teacher interviews and portfolios/artefacts displayed at the Maker Faire.This combination of data collection techniques provided triangulation between both qualitative and quantitative data sources to ensure the reliability and validity of data and its interpretations.The Deakin team evaluated each of the three components of the programme to ascertain changing attitudes, perceptions, knowledge and practices in relation to STEM and entrepreneurship.

Data collection from students For the Maker Faire, two sets of survey data were collected from the participating students as part of the Maker Faire event.The frst set of data collected was based on short questionnaires at the end of Maker Faire, in which all the participating students responded to a small number of multiple-choice questions to provide a quick snapshot of their experiences on the day. The quick survey asked for responses to whether the students had enjoyed themselves and whether they had learned anything new on the day. Responses to this survey were overwhelmingly positive. The second set of surveys was provided to the teachers for participating students to complete at school over the days immediately after the Maker Faire event.The questions for this survey combined Likert-scale items related to student learning and engagement in the Maker Faire and similar events and open questions for students to provide additional information about their experience in relation to the Maker Faire in specifc and to STEM more generally. For the Likert-style questions, students were asked to choose between these fve options: defnitely yes, probably yes, maybe, probably not and defnitely not.

Maker Faire in STEM engagement


TABLE 9.2 Survey questions for student participants

Question 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

What age bracket do you belong to? What is your gender? Have you been to a Maker Faire or similar event before? If yes, when did you go, and what did you do there? Did you enjoy yourself and have fun today? If yes, what was it that you enjoyed the most? What was it that you enjoyed the least? Did you learn anything new or interesting from the Maker Faire? If yes, what did you learn? Would you like to go to another Maker Faire or similar event? If yes, what would you like to do or learn there? If not, why not? Do you think STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is important to learn? If yes, why do you think STEM is important? How are you involved in STEM in your school? Do you see yourself working in one of the STEM areas in the future? Do you think STEM has a place in society? Do you have suggestions for how the Maker Faire could be improved in the future?

Question type Categorical Categorical Categorical Open-ended Likert style Open-ended Open-ended Likert style Open-ended Likert style Open-ended Open-ended Likert style Open-ended Open-ended Open-ended Likert style Open-ended

Likert-style items are typically ordinal and thus considered unsuitable for parametric analysis. However, Norman (2010) claimed that studies show consistently that parametric statistics are robust enough to undertake parametric analyses. Hence, parametric methods can be used without concern for ‘getting the wrong answer’ (p. 625). On this basis, in the analysis, each response was assigned a numerical rating from 1 to 5, with ‘defnitely yes’ rated as 5.0, to ‘defnitely not’ rated as 1.0. A total of 53 questionnaires were returned, with a response rate of 32%.

Case studies of schools In addition, case studies of six SEPS schools were generated to document teacher, curriculum and school changes as a result of teachers’ SEPS participation and to establish the challenges and success criteria that infuence the successful and sustainable implementation of STEM/entrepreneurship initiatives. A multiple case study involves ‘a number of cases . . . studied jointly in order to investigate a phenomenon, population, or general condition’ (p. 445). All schools were invited to be a case, but for various reasons, fve opted out.The case studies drew on a document analysis or artefacts generated through the programme and semi-structured interviews with teachers and principals. Interview questions related to school and


Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu

teacher demographics, STEM programme in the schools before and after SEPS participation, understanding of STEM and how this changed, resources and supports, changes in teaching practices, other impacts relating to interventions or initiatives developed as a result of SEPS participation and plans for future STEM initiatives. The analysis in this chapter draws on data from the interviews relating to teachers’ perceptions of the values and responses to the Maker Faire.The interviews were semi-structured, and teacher refections on the Maker Faire emerged in response to the following questions:‘What impact has your involvement in the STEM programme had in what you do in your teaching as well as what is happening at your school?’ and ‘What are you doing next year?’The case study of one teaching team at one school, School B, is used here to illustrate how the integration of the Maker Faire into the SEPS programme was experienced by the students and teachers; it also draws on some supportive data from the student survey.

Results The results describe frst the students’ responses to the Maker Faire, as shown through the questionnaires, and second how the student experience and broader effect of Maker Faire was interpreted by the teachers of School B.

Student survey The analysis of the survey data (Table 9.3) demonstrated that in general, students enjoyed the Maker Faire (Q5, an average of 4.36) and learned something new or interesting from their involvement (Q8, an average of 3.83). Most of them regarded STEM as an important area for learning (Q13, an average of 4.67) and saw its place in society (Q17, 4.21), but not all of them saw themselves working in one of the STEM areas in the future (Q16, an average of 3.28). A qualitative analysis of student responses to ‘Why do you think STEM is important?’ was undertaken by identifying the categories of ‘like’ or ‘similar’ responses. The analysis showed that students generally valued STEM as an area of learning and enjoyment and considered STEM as important for building skills required in life and for jobs in the future. Responses such as ‘learning new things’ were most

TABLE 9.3 Student responses to Maker Faire


Maker Faire response

Average response out of 5

Q5 Q8 Q10 Q13 Q16 Q17

Enjoyment of Maker Faire Learning new/interesting Likelihood of attending Maker Faire again Importance of STEM Future work in STEM Place of STEM in society

4.36 3.83 4.36 4.67 3.28 4.21

Maker Faire in STEM engagement


common among student responses, with 26 out of 53 students mentioning the beneft of STEM in helping them in learning. Other responses are related to skill building and jobs such as ‘building a lot of skills’, ‘teaches teamwork and failure’ and ‘you could use STEM in your job’. Students also mentioned the enjoyment aspect of STEM in responses such as ‘all around us and fun’ and ‘doing cool science experiments’. These data show that the students enjoyed participating in the Maker Faire and would like to attend others; in other words, students engaged in STEM through the attendance at the Maker Faire and were suffciently motivated to want to attend another Maker Faire.

Case study: School B A case study of one school, School B, and the two teachers,Teacher T and Teacher S, is used to illustrate how the Maker Faire was experienced by the teachers and students and to illustrate the pedagogical and learning implications of the Maker Faire. The case study school selected has also been reported in Xu, Campbell & Hobbs (2019), where the general outcomes of the SEPS programme for a selection of schools are interrogated. Teachers T and S from School B joined the SEPS programme to extend their understanding of STEM and how to incorporate it meaningfully into their school. A science specialist and technology specialist already existed at the school, although little emphasis was placed in these specialist classes on what might be considered interdisciplinary ‘STEM’. There were, however, some uncoordinated attempts by individual or groups of teachers to dabble in STEM: ‘myself and Teacher T were both working on the same team and we were dabbling in some STEM sort of units’ (Teacher S). As a result of their involvement in the SEPS programme, the two teachers had ‘created a STEM programme where [grades three to six] work an hour a week on a STEM project’. A pre-existing programme, which had time set aside in the timetable, was modifed to incorporate this STEM time and enabled an evolution of existing ideas and projects. Working within this pre-existing structure enabled the teachers to quickly plan and implement an activity for the Maker Faire relating to minigolf. The students’ used pre-existing minigolf courses designed and constructed by the previous year’s cohort of students to undertake three projects relating to minigolf courses. First, students used the principles of force, gravity, angles and measurement demonstrated in the minigolf courses to design and produce a model of a pinball machine. Second, students designed a scoring sheet to use with the golf courses, which linked with the output needs of design. Finally, they developed a code for spheros (robotic spheres) to navigate through each course without touching the sides. The students needed to do a plan of the courses indicating which design elements (such as teeing-off point, the hole and obstacles) they needed to avoid.


Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu

The golf courses were then used in the Maker Faire for other students to play and to incidentally learn about angles, force and measurement (see Figure 9.4). The learning outcomes related to the planning and construction processes, mathematics (angles, measurement, refection) and science (gravity, forces). Fifteen grade three and four students introduced the golf courses to 30 students from two other schools. School B students gave a formal presentation to the audience, explaining the planning and construction process, and then the audience played golf. The teachers stated in the interview after the programme that this was a valuable opportunity for students to share their work: ‘the students still talk about the [Maker Faire], what it was for us was an opportunity for the students to see something they’d developed in class’ (Teacher T).The excitement around the experience was echoed by a student in one of the anonymous student surveys, where the response to ‘What was the highlight of the Maker Faire for you?’ was ‘sharing my golf course’. Due to the anonymous nature of the surveys, we were unable to isolate and generalise about the responses of the students from School B. In addition to displaying their own work, the School B student makers and their teachers participated in the following sessions: • • •

Design and construct a sound machine that makes different notes, run by a Deakin University music education academic. Make-do: hands-on construction and problem-solving using cardboard and recyclables, run by another SEPS school. Augmented reality session, run by an information technology specialist from Deakin University.


Minigolf activities

Maker Faire in STEM engagement


Film canister rockets where the students and teachers from another SEPS school assisted participating students to set off flm canister rockets using bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. The ‘expo’ display involving objects and projects created by student makers from fve schools, where the makers stood with the creations and the participating students interacted with them.

Teachers S and T refected in the interview that for both them and the student makers, being able see other project ideas were of great value.The teachers reported that for the students, there was a feeling of pride, an opening-up of possibilities to the ‘real-life’ experience of public speaking and other possibilities of what STEM is and can be: There was a real life thing as well, and obvious connection, and we speak about real life with them all the time, most teachers probably don’t. . . . To experience real-life components was a really valuable thing and for them to see other students presenting what they were presenting. INTERVIEWER: How important was that, seeing other students? TEACHER T: Purely from the point of view of confdence and public speaking, I think was really valuable. TEACHER T:

For the teachers, seeing other approaches being used by other teachers in the SEPS network of schools was considered valuable in assisting them to conceptualise their ‘vision for STEM’, especially because of the possibilities for ongoing collaboration that was being facilitated by the SEPS programme: It’s been brilliant for us. Obviously there’s an overarching network thing there. I suppose the schools we’ve taken a bit from, probably School X, School F and then from the conference, also School A and the way they’ve developed their inquiry, we’re going to steal that idea. Imitation is the greatest form of fattery so thank you School F. We are certainly going to use that as a template of how our inquiry can feed our STEM as well. TEACHER S: And I guess why we aligned ours to particularly and was through having the conversation with the staff and their long-term plan down the line. Those schools have been doing STEM for longer than us, that was sort of the idea was ours, mine and Teacher T’s vision. TEACHER T:

After the Maker Faire and the STEM education conference, the learning from these ‘celebrations’ of innovations by the teachers and students were being translated into new programmes and teacher learning at School B.The two teachers reported that in the year after the programme, a Maker Faire–style celebration was being planned as an ‘expo’ as a culmination of a year-long STEM programme.The teachers were planning to keep the STEM hour each week and use an inquiry approach where


Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu

students address a problem by making a product that is then presented by their students at the expo where their achievements will be celebrated. At the end, we want to have something to present so roughly this time next year we’ll have a big expo. Parents will be invited, industry will be invited, other schools come in and the [students] will have the chance to present their achievements, what they’ve done.


In addition, the teachers were taking leadership over the new programme, beginning with running some PL for other staff at the school. As part of this planning, the teachers have actively sought further research and information about STEM teaching and learning and how to make meaningful links with industry by participating in an international conference in Finland that featured education–industry partnerships. For many schools, learning to link school curriculum to industry is a challenge (Education Council, 2018; Hobbs et al., 2017). However, these teachers’ commitment to embracing industry illustrates a shift towards engaging with contemporary STEM practices as part of the school curriculum, potentially ‘as a means of engaging students more deeply with STEM ideas, ways of working and the people involved’ (Tytler & Corrigan, 2018, p. 144). Further,Teacher T explained that the SEPS programme, including the Maker Faire, have affrmed his tendency to look beyond the individual subjects to thinking of things in the broader context. I never looked at a subject or a unit of work in isolation, I tried to look at it as an overarching theme. And what STEM has provided for us . . . using the inquiry program as a real launch pad for STEM, and that might provide design and context to the problem-based learning we are going to do, it just provides more of an umbrella, just that layer that stays on top.

Discussion The research project set out to determine teachers’ and students’ changing attitudes, perceptions, knowledge and practices of STEM and entrepreneurship. Particularly, we sought to generate information on the value of the Maker Faire as a strategy for student engagement and learning in STEM. Anecdotally, the engagement of student makers in the Maker Faire was high, with photographic evidence attesting to their involvement in Maker Faire activities.Their involvement was represented when describing their projects through presenting to others, responding to other students’ and teachers’ questions and communicating their STEM understandings.The projects themselves were a representative part of the students’ developing STEM knowledge in applications that were meaningful to themselves. In surveying the student makers after the Maker Faire, it was clear that they had enjoyed the Maker Faire and were interested in attending similar events in the future. This clearly links with the aspect of ‘engagement’, where the meaningful

Maker Faire in STEM engagement


learning experiences of ‘making’ has focused their attention and motivated them to complete their projects. Student makers acknowledged the importance of STEM and its place in society, although at this stage, seeing themselves in future careers or jobs in STEM seemed to be less positive. It appears that engagement and enjoyment may not be enough to convince students of the overall beneft of a future STEM career.The role of the Maker Faire appears to be more effective at offering the experience of making, sharing and seeing other students’ work than at offering a vision of future job prospects for these primary school students. In Figure 9.5, we have represented the involvement of students through the process of developing a STEM-related project to be presented to others at a Maker Faire.The value of the Maker Faire lies in it being the culmination and a point of celebration where students can share their making, after the process of posing problems, investigating and making. As was suggested by the teachers from School B, presenting enabled the development of communication skills such as an awareness of the audience. It also gave students confdence in their abilities and ownership over the process. Doing this as part of a celebration of the students’ achievements enabled different audiences to acknowledge their efforts. School B’s intentions to run a similar celebratory event at the end of the following year where they would invite parents and people from industry widens this audience to a broader network. Maker Faires provide the space, the people and the spirit of sharing, which extend design-based and inquiry-based learning beyond the walls of the classroom. In the whole project, the Maker Faire provided the impetus for teachers, students, academic staff – the latter as providers of the professional learning programme – to be involved in new learning. As indicated previously, in designing a new professional learning programme, we needed to consider how this could be an authentic learning experience for all involved. Teachers also underwent the process of posing problems, investigating and designing a new curriculum and new pedagogy in response to their engagement in the PL programme. The students then engaged with these new programmes of design and entrepreneurship, culminating in their Maker Faire exhibits. As shown in Figure 10.1, the Maker Faire was the central component that tied the following together: 1

The academics working with teachers to develop a structure and process that would logistically enable all schools to be involved.


Making to Maker Faire


2 3

Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs and Lihua Xu

The teachers working with students to design exhibits that would best showcase the work of the students and teachers. All of them coming together through school and other exhibits that celebrated the makers and their work through a transaction of ideas.

The 165 students involved in this project had the opportunity to problem-solve by breaking down existing ideas, processing information and following a design/ engineering process to produce something new (for them) and in many cases innovative.This gave them signifcant autonomy over their work and enabled them to learn ‘through the act of making something shareable’ (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 21). The Maker Faire provided them with the opportunity to share their ideas and projects in a collaborative and friendly way.They learned from each other.The Maker Faire celebrated the achievements of students as they explored these new ideas and technologies.As mentioned earlier, the autonomy gained by the students who take charge of their own projects, designing and developing their own solutions, provides them with a sense of agency over their developing knowledge and validates this as their ideas, thoughts and voices are recognised by others (and themselves) at the Maker Faire. The recognition of their work at the Maker Faire also validates the work and effort devoted to the STEM product. In terms of teacher learning, our evidence indicates the growth in teachers’ understanding of STEM as a powerful agent of student engagement and motivation in STEM learning. In the case study, the two teachers recognised the value of the public display, as was illustrated by their intention to adopt this approach to celebration in the following year as an ‘expo’ (one component of the Maker Faire). Anecdotally, the other schools involved in SEPS also appreciated this idea of publicly affrming students’ projects as a means of validating the STEM learning.The Maker Faire also provided teachers with opportunities to see the value of their own teaching through students’ maker projects. It highlighted that they needed to embrace the ideas promoted by the PL programme by developing new or redeveloping existing activities.

Conclusion The evidence supports the literature (Bevan et al., 2015; Deloitte, 2014; Halverson & Sheridan, 2014) on the important role of the Maker Faire in STEM teaching and learning.The fndings elaborate on recent US research on the value of maker faires, which indicates that they support students’ STEM engagement and extend our understanding of how incorporating these celebration activities into professional development programmes can be edifying for the teachers involved. The use of a Maker Faire as a component of the SEPS programme was key to ensuring that the students remained central to the learning. The teachers developed a new STEM curriculum and used the Maker Faire as an authentic venue for promoting students’ work and for students to share their ideas and inventions. The Maker Faire also provided an opportunity for academics, teachers and students to learn together and from each other; this rarely happens in typical professional development programmes.

Maker Faire in STEM engagement


References Albion, P., Campbell, C., & Jobling,W. (2018). Technologies education for the primary years. Melbourne,Victoria: Cengage. Andrews, K. (2018). Media release making space for science. Canberra,ACT: Minister for Industry, Science and Technology,Australian Government. Retrieved from www.minister.industry. Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2019). Australian curriculum: Science. Canberra, ACT: ACARA. Retrieved from www.australiancurriculum. Bevan, B., Gutwill, J., Petrich, M., & Wilkinson, K. (2015). Learning through STEM-rich tinkering: Findings from a jointly negotiated research project taken up in practice. Science Education, 99(1), 98–120. Creswell, J. W. (2014). A concise introduction to mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Crippen, K. J., & Archambault, L. (2012). Scaffolded inquiry-based instruction with technology: A signature pedagogy for STEM education. Computers in the Schools, 29(1–2), 157–173. doi:10.1080/07380569.2012.658733 Deloitte. (2014). Product innovation in a hyper connected world. The Australian Maker Movement. Retrieved 10 January 2016 from html#qr= Maker% 20Movement Education Council. (2018). Optimising STEM industry-school partnership: Inspiring Australia’s next generation. Carlton South,Victoria: Education Council. English, L. D. (2016). STEM education K–12: Perspectives on integration. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(3), 1–8. Hackling, M., Smith, P., & Murcia, K. (2010). Talking science: Developing a discourse of inquiry. Teaching Science, 56(1), 17–22. Halverson, E. R., & Sheridan, K. M. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495–504. Harlow, D., & Hansen, A. (2018). School Maker Faire as pre-service teacher education. Science & Children, 55(7), 30–37. Hobbs, L., Jakab, C., Millar,V., Prain,V., Redman, C., Speldewinde, C., . . .Van Driel, J. (2017). Girls’ future – our future:The Invergowrie foundation STEM report. Melbourne,Victoria: Invergowrie Foundation. Honey, M., Pearson, G., & Schweingruber, H. (2014). STEM integration in K-12 education: Status, prospects, and an agenda for research (Vol. 500).Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Johnson, R. B., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2004). Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come. Educational Researcher, 33(7), 14–26. Kelley,T., & Knowles, J. G. (2016).A conceptual framework for integrated STEM education. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(11), 1–11. Martin, L. (2015).The promise of the maker movement for education. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 5(1),Article 4. Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom.Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Matusov, E. M., Soslau, E., Marjanovic-Shane, A., & von Duyke, K. (2016). Dialogic education for and from authorial agency. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 4, 162–197. Niebert, K., Marsch, S., & Treagust, D. F. (2012). Understanding needs embodiment: A theoryāguided reanalysis of the role of metaphors and analogies in understanding science. Science Education, 96(5), 849–877.


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Norman, G. (2010). Likert scales, levels of measurement and the laws of statistics. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 15(5), 625–632. Núñez, R. E., Edwards, L. D., & Matos, F. J. (1999). Embodied cognition as grounding for situatedness and context in mathematics education. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 39(1), 45–65. Papert, S., & Harel, I. (1991). Constructionism. Norwood, NJ:Ablex Publishing. Roessingh, H., & Bence, M. (2018). Embodied cognition: Laying the foundation for early language and literacy learning. Language and Literacy, 20(4), 23–39. https://doi. org/10.20360/langandlit29435 Tytler, R., & Corrigan, D. (2018). Conclusions and implications. In S. Dinham, R.Tytler, D. Corrigan, & D. Hoxley (Eds.), Reconceptualising maths and science teacher education (pp. 140– 145). Camberwell,Victoria:ACER Press. Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Sheldon, K., & Deci, E. (2004). Motivating learning performance, and persistence: The synergistic effects of intrinsic goal contents and autonomy-supportive contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 246–260. Xu, L., Campbell, C., & Hobbs, L. (2019). Changing STEM and entrepreneurial thinking teaching practices and pedagogy through a professional learning program. In Y.-S. Hsu & Y.-F.Yeh (Eds.), Asia Pacifc STEM teaching practices. Singapore: Springer. Zusho,A., Pintrich, P.,Arbor,A., & Coppola, B. (2003). Skill and will:The role of motivation and cognition in the learning of college chemistry. International Journal of Science Education, 25(9), 1081–1094.

10 MORE THAN STEM Connecting students’ learning to community through eco-justice Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe and David Lloyd

Introduction Today’s digital age moves fast and requires what scholars such as English and Gainsburg (2016) and Barak (2017) refer to as 21st-century skills.There are varied descriptions of what exactly comprise these 21st-century skills. For example, in the United States, the National Research Council lists these skills as ‘adaptability, complex communication, social skills, nonroutine problem-solving, self-management/ self-development, and systems thinking’ (NRC, 2010, p. 2). In the Australian context, the chief scientist refers to these skills as enterprise skills, which include ‘creativity, project management capabilities, communications, resilience, understanding of ethics’ (Finkel, 2018, p. 5). Regardless, there is a tendency for defnitions of 21st-century skills to focus more on ‘jobs and employment’ than on meaningful education. Chesky and Wolfmeyer (2015) remind us of the importance of avoiding a discourse that is oriented around only professions and pathways.They argue that Reducing education to only serve workforce or economic demands lessens the way humankind has conceived of knowledge. Reducing learners or citizens to human capital, which are only necessary in terms of what capital they can produce for their nation, dehumanizes children and their families. (Chesky & Wolfmeyer, 2015, p. 1) Amid this focus on 21st-century skills is a renewed emphasis on STEM education, which is gaining attention through media outputs from sources such as the Australian chief scientist.There seems to be an expectation that STEM education can prepare and equip the next generation of students with the capacity to actively participate in society as knowledgeable, ethical and critically aware consumers.To do so, STEM education needs to prioritise sustainability and eco-justice, which


Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe & David Lloyd

requires teachers not only to develop curricula that create entrepreneurs and digital experts but also to create curricula that empower ‘critical consumers, creative and ethically astute citizens, innovative designers, good communicators and collaborative decision makers’ (Taylor, 2016, p. 89). It is students’ ability to innovate and ‘think outside the box’ that will be required in our future workforce, but, more critically, they will need to help protect Earth and its resources for future generations (Paige & Lloyd, 2016). Defning, or representing, STEM is complex, as discussed by Paige, O’Keeffe, Geer, MacGregor and Panizzon (2019).While STEM can be considered in a number of ways, ‘a key point to keep in mind is that STEM not only comprises the individual disciplines but also acknowledges the opportunities for integration across the disciplines’ (Paige, Lloyd, & Smith, 2019, p. 49). It is a transdisciplinary philosophy.The challenge for STEM educators is responding to and overcoming narrow, simplifed interpretations of STEM. Instead, they must embrace the complexity of STEM, explore integration, and work with local STEM-related issues.A transdisciplinary pedagogy (Balsiger, 2015; Paige, Lloyd, & Chartres, 2008) focuses on making connections between the self, community and the natural world through hands-on learning and refection by using what we know, what we value and what we can do, which builds on 21st-century skills. A transdisciplinary approach to STEM education requires a pedagogy that can integrate the STEM disciplines, contribute to students becoming activists in their places of living and hence connect to community. One way of describing the difference between transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary STEM education is that transdisciplinary STEM is based on issues. For example, in this context, STEM focuses on empowering students to question, to challenge, to problem-solve and to respond to authentic issues such as reducing ecological footprints. Interdisciplinary STEM education, however, often focuses on using different learning areas to understand more about content and ways of thinking and working. For example,how do gears work is interdisciplinary in terms of mathematics, science and technology. Approaches to integration are in themselves multifaceted and, as is the case for STEM integration, can create some challenges. As Bransford and Schwartz (1999) discuss, integration is not as simple as just taking the knowledge and skills in one learning area and applying them to another. Integration is an active, iterative process which often requires collaboration with students, other teachers and communities. More importantly, it is crucial that educators and policymakers recognise that the 21st-century skills listed earlier in this chapter cannot be contained within the four walls of a classroom. In order for students to be equipped and challenged to be adaptable and to engage in genuine problem-solving and real communication, they need to work outside the classroom and in the community. In this chapter, after providing some background around eco-justice and sustainability, we present two case studies that are examples of STEM education in practice, and they were intended to empower students as knowledgeable citizens positioned to infuence everyday practice in their local community. One case was developed with community volunteers and the other with teachers.The frst case study explores how a critical praxis approach to integrated STEM can provide a

More than STEM


path towards a sustainable world by addressing global challenges, changing perceptions of environmental and associated problems, recognising 21st-century workforce skills and confronting issues of national security (Bybee, 2013). The second case study, through action research centred on freshwater ecosystems, provides an example of a transdisciplinary curriculum approach that goes beyond subjectspecifc areas to include the exact sciences, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as art and literature (Paige et al., 2018).We have used the term transdisciplinary STEM to mean a transdisciplinary approach that includes all aspects of knowing, feeling and doing, to address, in our case, the issue of sustainability and eco-justice with a particular focus on fresh water. Through detailed descriptions of the two case studies, this chapter captures the actions and pedagogies that are possible through transdisciplinary STEM.The case studies model approaches that we believe can be transferred into primary school classrooms by using issues and student interests that are relevant to the place and time of the class, teacher, school and natural and manufactured local environments. Two pedagogical themes that are central to these approaches are creativity, in terms of fnding new or improved solutions, and the connectivity of teachers and their students to place.

STEM education: an eco-justice and sustainability perspective There is a growing consensus that education must extend its traditional goal of student mastery of subject-centred scholastic knowledge to include the development of individuals who can prosper in complex and changing social, cultural and economic worlds. That is, there is a need for a renewed focus on issues that are affecting both human and other-than-human communities so that we can transition to a sustainable and eco-just way of living. While many teachers and educators would agree that STEM curricula should be embedded in real-world, authentic contexts, much of the current policy and practice favours disciplinary approaches to knowledge, narrowly focused on what is readily measurable or amenable to achievement testing. In contrast, the issues that affect students’ lives outside of school are not uni-disciplinary, nor are the solutions to problems that beset our world today.We need a STEM education that considers the current state of play and the needs of generations in the world to come – the desired transdisciplinary characteristic of STEM education (Aubusson, Panizzon, & Corrigan, 2016). For this reason, the learning needs to focus on current practices that are no longer appropriate or are unsustainable (e.g. single-use containers) because they breach social and ecological justice principles (Paige et al., 2016). Such an approach to learning to live sustainably within viable communities (human and other-than-human) requires an eco-just and sustainable way of behaving (Bybee, 2013). In the past, humans have not had a good track record of looking after their ‘place’. For example, Norberg-Hodge (2019) argues that, ‘overall, approximately 75% of the world’s agricultural diversity was lost in the last century, a narrowing


Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe & David Lloyd

of the genetic base that puts food security at risk everywhere’ (p. 35).We need to bring diversity into agriculture through valuing the local. A more hopeful story comes from Australian Indigenous communities who were managing sustainable living through the use of dam building, irrigation, and harvesting – sustainable agriculture – well before white people invaded the country (Pascoe, 2018). As Gallopin (2002) discusses, ‘the major obstacles to sustainable development can be reduced to three basic categories: willingness, understanding, and capacity’ (p. 362).These aspects of social capital require high levels of trust, strong social networks and good leadership (Walker, 2019). Each of these requirements are within the realm of schools that offer place-based transdisciplinary learning. This refers to learning that values and goes beyond the ‘normal’ school curriculum by taking learning outside of school boundaries into environments such as the parks, gardens and natural environments that we fnd close and not so close to the schools in which we teach (Francis, Paige, & Lloyd, 2013; Paige et al., 2012; Paige et al., 2008; Paige et al., 2016). It is about providing ‘an education for living well’ as well as ‘an education for a world worth living in’ (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 27). New ways of knowing and doing are needed to counter issues such as climate change, environmental degradation, species loss and inequity in the distribution of resources in an interconnected world with fnite resources. Humans are misbehaving, even if they do not realise it (Gilbert, 2016). This ‘misbehaving’ needs new ways of considering what sustainability involves, including what kinds of thinking, feeling and knowing are effective in coming to understand sustainability concepts.The assumption that knowing ‘about environmental issues will effect changes in students’ attitudes and behaviours’ has been found to be inaccurate (CutterMackenzie & Smith, 2003; Jensen, 2016; Kollmuss & Agyeman, 2002). There is a need for pedagogy that more closely connects students to the real issues, real communities and ways to take positive action to turn things around. Innovative and community-based STEM learning and teaching approaches have the potential to contribute to cultural and environmental improvements. These improvements can occur when there are clear and explicit connections to place (e.g. place-based education: Edwards, 2003; Smith, 2002) and when the technical (knowing), practical (doing) and emancipatory (connecting to the places we live) are all valued. One such approach is a critical praxis transdisciplinary approach (Moore & Reid, 1992), discussed next, in the frst case study.The second case study provides a transdisciplinary example centred on freshwater literacies.

Case study 1: native Australian bees – a critical praxis example of STEM Concern for the plight of the honeybee and their diminishing numbers, likely caused by human activity, has prompted community groups and classrooms to work together to promote an understanding of the ecology and the value of Australia’s native bees. In this section, we discuss a case study of a local community and school practical action in response to an environmental challenge that empowered young children

More than STEM


to be responsible environmental advocates by using a critical praxis approach. This approach is based on Jürgen Habermas’s critical theory and was developed by Moore and Reid (1992). Critical praxis pedagogy is a transdisciplinary approach to learning aimed at connecting students to their local environment and/or community through the study of an area of interest. Moore and Reid (1992) advise that In moments of signifcant decision-making, we do call on past experiences both in our own lives and the lives of others to inform them.We try to learn from the past in order not to repeat its failures, and to select courses of action which seem to carry a potential for success. (p. 181) Critical praxis pedagogy is a useful model for curriculum implementation as it assists students in learning about the Anthropocene1 (the current era in Earth’s history).The approach addresses problems of ‘separation’ – both the separation of people from nature (Louv, 2008; Suzuki, 2010;Walker, 2019) and the separation of knowledge across disciplines (e.g. arts and science) – in order to learn about current issues and actively seek to fnd and apply solutions. It provides a critical orientation to the past and the present that enables the future to be more than a mere reproduction of the status quo. Hence, the following are some of the goals of critical praxis pedagogy: • • • • • •

Enhance students’ skills in decision-making, especially shared or collective decision-making. Enable students to plan courses of action which have the potential to create a liberating future. Engage the whole person (emotions, intellect, imagination, body) in the learning process. Engage students in dealing critically (refectively) and creatively (actively) with their social reality. Promote collective action capable of confronting unjust social structures. Enable students to learn in a way that consistently unites theory (belief) and action (practice). (Moore & Reid, 1992)

We use the topic of native bees as a way to apply and illustrate a critical praxis approach (see Table 10.1).The sequence is an example of our version of transdisciplinary STEM with an eco-justice orientation in action in a classroom and/or community.The case study incorporates the STEM disciplines as follows: • •

Science through identifying native bees and plants that attract bees. Mathematics through mapping the location of bees and measurements (distance and circumference) of materials for bee hotels (a place for solitary bees and/or non-honey-making bees to create nests). Engineering and technologies through designing and constructing bee hotels.


Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe & David Lloyd

The action phase is not a nicety added to the learning process; it is the learning. Integral to the instruction for the native bee project was the initial groundwork, focusing on connecting the students with a local 2-acre community garden (only partly developed). The students helped out with the garden for at least two school terms (approximately 20 weeks), preparing garden beds and planting vegetables. At the start of each session at the community garden, opportunities were provided for students to identify aspects of the garden experience that they enjoyed. They were asked the following questions: What do you fnd interesting/beautiful/intriguing about this garden? What do you do in your garden at home? Are you involved in your school garden? Where do your vegetables come from for meals at home? What are weeds? These open-ended questions provided opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and interests in their home and community gardens.They also enabled a connection to the native bee project, starting with the following questions: How do they help the plant? What is pollination? Do other things pollinate plants? Do native bees sting you like ordinary bees? The session always ended with playtime when students could explore the undeveloped sections of the garden, climb trees, have snail races, collect and admire worms and so on. While growing vegetables was the stated aim, connecting with nature was our underlying motive (Arvay, 2018; Louv, 2008, 2011; Sobel, 2017; Walker, 2019). In the native bee project, the learning began with a talk on native bees, promoting an understanding of the ecology and value of Australia’s native bees as pollinators and promoting natural ecology and what we could do to help native bees in home, community and school gardens.This was followed by workshops at the community garden, which included making bee hotels, planting bee-attracting plants and a tour of the garden looking at posters on the needs and management of native bees. It concluded with an evaluation and plans for follow-up sessions (Lloyd & Deans, 2017). A similar process, related to other relevant local issues, could be followed in schools as part of the school STEM curriculum.With younger students, a teacher needs to take more leadership, but older/adult students are quite capable of working towards consensus understanding and action. The critical praxis model is structured on the basis of the eight steps outlined in Table 10.1. In our example with a year two class (students aged around seven to eight years), the bee bundle project was one activity undertaken by students as part of a yearlong project on growing, collecting, cooking and eating vegetables. The growing took place at the local community garden, where students could see what others were doing and were shown examples of a range of bee hotels already established in the garden.As a school holiday project, students were encouraged to collect materials from home and from places they visited as part of other classroom projects or family activities outdoors, such as wetlands where plants such as reeds and bamboo are readily available, which are ideal for making bee ‘bundles’.

TABLE 10.1 Eight stages of critical praxis expanded by using the native bee example

1. What is the problem? Identify a current issue/interest or concern.

2. How do we understand the problem? Students in small groups discuss questions to elicit their views, feelings, beliefs and desires:Why am I here? How do we think that the problem arose? Who is being advantaged and who disadvantaged? How open am I to change? Each group presents their position to the class, and then a combined class statement is prepared. 3. How do others see the problem? Use literature and online material to come to a better understanding of the issue.

4. What is our vision? Students, in their original small groups, discuss the class position, looking particularly at why they believe the way they do. Each group researches the issue, extracts useful ideas and exchanges them with others. 5. What could we do? Look at the range of practical projects that people have implemented in the past, are doing now or are proposing for the future. Create a list of possible actions in which students could become involved. 6. Selecting appropriate courses of action. The whole class establishes major elements of a desired future, aiming to reach a consensus. Students discuss the new vision and suggest actions to put their vision into effect.

A lack of understanding and valuing of Australian native bees, highlighted by concern that colony collapse disorder will come to Australia. What do we know about hive bees and their place in ecosystems? What is colony collapse of hive bees, and what is its effect on ecosystems? What do we know about native Australian bees, their behaviour and place in ecosystems? How are they different from hive bees? Do they help to pollinate plants?

Connect native bees to students’ lives through a study of bees’ diversity, behaviour, ways of living and place/ value in ecosystems. Introduce students to colony collapse with hive bees and the effect on pollination and food production. Native bees are solitary, excellent pollinators and are known to contribute to plant propagation, particularly native Australian plants. Research native bees and construct futures scenarios that place native bees in their rightful ecological place, informed by the information gathered thus far.Attend community information sessions/workshops.

Support Australian native bees in our home and school gardens, parks and the bush areas in our district. Get to understand their behaviour and needs. What can we do to spread the word about the variety and value of native bees as pollinators? Use shared vision and suggest actions such as build native bee hotels for school and own gardens; research and write articles for school magazine; talk at assemblies; tell parents and local government; or make displays for school and public places (see Figure 10.1). (Continued)


Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe & David Lloyd

TABLE 10.1 (Continued)

7. How will we do it? A class decides on necessary and appropriate actions they can take to achieve their shared vision and to operationalise their plan. 8. Take action and evaluate outcomes.


Plan to share information more broadly about the value of native bees at school, at home and in the local newspaper and information boards. Students can make bee hotels to place in the school, home and neighbours’ gardens; give a presentation at a school assembly; discuss with their parents and friends; or meet with local government (see Figure 10.1).

Examples of outcomes from the native Australian bees project

Many teachers and students are, to a large degree, illiterate when it comes to an understanding of ecology and the lives of individual members of the ecosystem. This native bee study aimed to help teachers and students acquire an understanding of the basic ecology of native bees in their local area, their value/place in the

More than STEM


ecosystem and the challenges they face in a semi-rural environment. Kopnina and Cherniak (2015) explain that this task engages both the macro units of study (e.g. ecosystems) and the micro units of study (e.g. species and individual animals, plants, fungi or bacteria). At the community workshops, teachers and students (as well as other interested community members) were keen to learn what they could about native bees and appreciated the need to continually update their knowledge and learn new skills.An accompanying parent remarked, Always interested in learning about our natural world . . . especially related to the garden. Growing interest in honey bees and native bees and what we can do to stop the world decline of their numbers. (Parent) The responses from students who visited each Wednesday morning as part of a class project are notable for the enthusiasm with which they went about their gardening activities and their interest in the pollinating process (usually of hive bees) in their vegetable patch. In summary, the native bee project has provided the opportunity for teachers and students to learn more about native bees, to value native bees and their environments and to act responsibly to protect and enhance survival of the bees.The native bee project has also provided an opportunity for like-minded community groups and schoolchildren to work together to enhance the social and environmental resilience of the human and broader natural environments to ‘enable future generations of humans and non-humans to meet their own needs’ (Kopnina, 2014, p. 6). The native bee (and gardening) project draws on each of the STEM areas of learning – understanding the natural world, particularly plant growth and pollination (science); building bee bundles (technology and engineering); and taking measurements (mathematics). However, it also provides students with a connection to their place in the natural world and develops their sense of responsibility for managing their place in their community.

Case study 2: freshwater literacies – a transdisciplinary example of STEM This section provides an outline of a classroom-based action research project in which fve year fve teachers (working with students aged around ten to 11 years) asked a question about an aspect of their pedagogy and implemented action research in the chosen transdisciplinary topic, which in this case was fresh water.We argue that if we are serious about democracy and ecological and social justice, schools must become a site for critical and engaged thinking about the world’s big problems, including climate change, racism, hunger, overconsumption and fresh water. If we truly wish to generate wisdom, we need to help young people to become more critical about the goods and values promoted by a consumer society. In this section, we provide a second example of a local community and school-based action in transdisciplinary STEM.


Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe & David Lloyd

Drawing on critical curriculum inquiry, we provided a practitioner inquiry model for teachers to use as action research and to document the various curriculum and pedagogical innovations as they were implemented (Green, 2018; Kemmis, 2008). Our approach to codesigning and enacting a curriculum for the Anthropocene was to work alongside teachers who were prepared to experiment and critically refect on what they had been able to accomplish with their students and the community and in their specifc institutions and geographic locations. All teacher researchers were committed to tackling complex ecological, social and ethical questions in relation to a local body of fresh water in a freshwater literacies project.The intention of this section is to highlight the potential of an approach such as this, providing practical examples used by the teachers and developed by their students. Based on frameworks that were codeveloped by the teachers and teacher educators, transdisciplinary curriculum materials titled Water Literacies: Curriculum for the Anthropocene were designed, trialled and implemented. The teachers incorporated transdisciplinary practices into their pedagogy, which included connections with a wide range of community groups, visits to signifcant sites and community actions. It was a collaborative process between the researchers and fve teachers at three different schools. The aim of the Fresh Water Literacies Project was to build on primary-aged students’ understanding of the importance and fnite availability of natural resources. The recognition of their personal impact on living in an overdeveloped world and their ‘unfair’ ecological footprint were also central.The project focused specifcally on developing scientifcally and mathematically literate citizens who would have the confdence to make informed decisions and participate in a democracy. The specifc natural resource that we focused on was fresh water (Paige et al., 2018). The Fresh Water Literacies Project involved three professional learning phases over a year: Phase 1: Orientation and provocation (one term – approximately 10 weeks) Phase 2: Implementation (two terms – approximately 20 weeks) Phase 3: Evaluation (one term – approximately 10 weeks). During each phase, the teachers and researchers met for a whole day once a term.These meetings included discussions around possibilities, frameworks, approaches and different external inputs, as well as provocations around water issues, local challenges and planning. From these meetings, the participating teachers planned term-long transdisciplinary STEM units of work centred on a local water issue.Although it was originally intended that the implementation phase (Phase 2) would take one term, student-directed interest and motivation led to this work extending beyond the original plan. In Phase 1, orientation and provocation, the teachers’ key task was to identify an appropriate area of focus that was connected to a local community issue. The fnal questions guiding the units of work that the teachers identifed evolved into the following: •

How can we change the curriculum and children’s learning from passive participation to active participation in the management of the lake systems?

More than STEM

• •


How can I create a connection to the lake for my class? What works to develop students as activists for the local wetlands?

During Phase 2, implementation (enacted teaching of these plans), the teachers provided scope for students to generate and explore their own questions (see examples in Figure 10.2) relating to their local water issue.This was done through learning experiences: • • • • • • • •

Experiments that students chose to explore ideas about water. Observation walks to the wetlands. Research using the Internet and books. Lessons to explore ideas and use the scientifc method and to equip the students with research and observation skills. Posing the project questions. Establishing the wetland context, geographically and historically. Citizen science projects. Introducing mind mapping as a shared refection and planning tool.


Examples of student-generated questions


• •

Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe & David Lloyd

Further question and refection activities. Mini-lessons and overtly teaching skills related to the projects, as required (see examples in Figure 10.3).

Providing rich learning experiences such as those just listed enables students to raise critical and original questions that they are interested in investigating. Teachers introduced ideas from many disciplines to connect students to their place: • • •

Science, including ecology, identifying macro invertebrates and testing water quality (salinity, pH). Mathematics, including data collection about local species, scaled measurements and calculating the mass of sandbags. History, including the history of place, such as the history of local fooding, the development of urban artifcial wetlands and so on.

A focus on citizen science projects involved students collecting, recording and uploading data about water quality, bird monitoring through observation and


Examples of a range of learning experiences

More than STEM


drawing and collecting feathers to contribute to a feather-mapping project. Rubbish from regular collections was analysed, represented and communicated to the schools and wider community.The mind maps in Figure 10.4 show how the teachers documented the different disciplines.What made this STEM, in our minds, was that they used different lenses in deep ways, when appropriate, to solve a real-world problem and to take an activist role to improve the waterways in the wetlands. Of particular importance here is that while the students were engaged in a multitude of learning experiences, some of which may have looked more like ‘science’, ‘art’ or even ‘English’ lessons, the teachers ensured a clear focus on the mathematics and science learning throughout the project. As is evident in Figure 10.4, the key science ideas focused on citizen science, water quality and technology (e.g. developing devices to clean gutters), alongside explicit learning of measurements, data and fnancial mathematics.All of these were integrated and were essential elements of the overall learning, and they explicitly related to different forms of literacy and aspects of numeracy. In addition to the researchers’ data collection and analysis, in Phase 3, the participant teachers presented their fndings at a state-based science and mathematics conference.This provided an opportunity for the teachers to refect on their professional learning and to share it with other committed science and mathematics teachers. The teachers noted that the process, while challenging, was rewarding professionally and personally. One of the participating teachers, in her refection


Examples of teachers’ mind maps for science, mathematics, technology and English


Kathryn Paige, Lisa O’Keeffe & David Lloyd

on what she valued about being involved in this project, highlighted the following key points: • • • • • • •

Sharing/borrowing ideas with colleagues/experts. Challenging teaching practices. Building knowledge and confdence for oneself and students. Building a network of expert teachers/consultants. Covering the mandated curriculum (and more). Improving student learning/grades. Feeling satisfed.

Summary: what do transdisciplinary approaches mean for STEM? The STEM learning illustrated in the two case studies was embedded in meaningful contexts that consciously connected students to the natural world.The frst case study involved developing a knowledge and understanding of the role of native bees, planting bee-attracting plants and constructing bee hotels, and the second implemented an issue-based curriculum around the topic of fresh water. These are rich examples of transdisciplinary STEM. In these examples, the learning connected students to their place of signifcance or a species that has a signifcant role to play in healthy ecosystems. Local community and issue-based examples of STEM teaching and learning, such as these, can have lifelong effects on children’s values and behaviour. For teachers, the approach not only challenges pedagogical practices and adds an often-missed layer to the purpose of education – more than ‘jobs and growth’ and more than ‘coding’ – but also provides teachers with ideas and connections and hence supports their own curriculum development.Through these examples, we argue that STEM education provides a unique platform for teachers to engage their students in meaningful, issue-based experiences. The rich examples in this chapter document feasible approaches to transdisciplinary STEM. In particular, the two case studies are examples of school learning that is connected to students’ place of living: their community of humans and other than humans, or their ecosystem. They highlight approaches to learning that challenge STEM education to go beyond narrow interpretations of STEM and beyond disciplinary learning and that create opportunities to engage in purposeful and important work. Additionally, such a perspective enables teachers to respond to timely issues, issues of today’s and tomorrow’s world, and to create greater connections to students’ lifeworlds. This in turn creates more authenticity in the teaching and learning and can motivate students to take activist roles in their own communities. Every small step towards collective action to make the world a better place counts. While not every child needs to be a Greta Thunberg (an internationally recognised teenage climate activist), every child should be given the opportunity to understand critical issues and their potential impact, and we argue that transdisciplinary STEM is a vehicle for this.

More than STEM


To this effect, we have included a list of questions below to encourage teachers to be brave in their actions and decisions around teaching and learning. Such questions can be asked to ensure that creative, connected, deep, eco-justice-oriented STEM learning is implemented in primary classrooms in this era, when decision-making for sustainable living in the whole world is necessary.The following are some critical questions to prompt and guide teachers as they plan transdisciplinary STEM: • • • • • • • •

What issues are evident in the school grounds and/or local community? How do we engage students with the natural world – with plant and animal species – so that the students develop an affnity with their living place? Will this STEM experience encourage students to become sustainability champions/warriors? What locations, sacred spots, special trees or iconic rocks can students connect to? What (device-free) opportunities are provided for students to spend extended time in the natural world? Can elders/grandparents be involved in intergenerational culturally responsive STEM learning experiences? Does the task encourage students to use their critical mathematical lens to question overconsumption by humans in the developed world? What data can the students collect and analyse to help reduce their ecological footprint?

This chapter shares two examples of innovative, natural, environmentally connected STEM curriculum that not only empowers the next generation to take action but equips that generation with the knowledge and skills to ground this action in studentcollected evidence. In some ways, we are suggesting that there is a duty of care that comes with calling oneself a STEM educator.This duty of care is for today’s students but also for tomorrow’s, working for a world in which we want to live. It connects with Stephen Kemmis’s two key foci for curriculum, ensuring that teachers provide ‘an education for living well’ and ‘an education for a world worth living in’ (Kemmis et al., 2014, p. 27).The two transdisciplinary STEM case studies do this.

Note 1 Costanza et al. (2013) describe this moment in history we live in as the Anthropocene, an era when humans are dramatically altering our ecological life-support system.

References Arvay, C. G. (2018). The biophilia effect: A scientifc and spiritual exploration of the healing bond between humans and nature. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. Aubusson, P., Panizzon, D., & Corrigan, D. (2016). Science education futures: Great potential: Could do better: Needs to try harder. Research in Science Education, 46, 203–221. Balsiger, J. (2015).Transdisciplinarity in the classroom? Simulating the co-production of sustainability knowledge. Futures, 65, 185–194.


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Barak, M. (2017). Science teacher education in the twenty-frst century: A pedagogical framework for technology-integrated social constructivism. Research in Science Education, 47, 283–303. Bransford, J. D., & Schwartz, D. L. (1999). Rethinking transfer: A simple proposal with multiple implications. Review of Research in Education, 24(1), 61–100. Bybee, R.W. (2013). The case for STEM education: Challenges and opportunities. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association. Chesky, N. Z., & Wolfmeyer, M. R. (2015). Philosophy of STEM education: A critical investigation. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Costanza, R., Alperovitz, G., Daly, H., Farley, J., Franco, C., Jackson,T., . . .Victor, P. (2013). Building a sustainable and desirable economy-in-society-in-nature. Canberra, ACT: ANU E Press. Cutter-MacKenzie, A., & Smith, R. (2003). Ecological literacy: The ‘missing paradigm’ in environmental education (Part one). Environmental Education Research, 9(4), 497–524. Edwards, J. (2003). Butterfy business: Connecting science and service learning. Investigating, 19(1), 8–11. English, L. D., & Gainsburg, J. (2016). Problem-solving in a 21st-century mathematics curriculum. In L. D. English & D. Kirshner (Eds.), Handbook of international research in mathematics education (3rd ed., pp. 313–335). New York, NY:Taylor & Francis. Finkel, A. (2018, June 12). Podcast special: Australia’s Chief Scientist on STEM partnerships. Teacher Magazine. Retrieved from Francis, M., Paige, K., & Lloyd, D. (2013). Middle year students’ experiences in nature:A case study on nature-play. Teaching Science, 59(2), 20–30. Gallopin, C. (2002). Planning for resilience: Scenarios, surprises, and branch points. In L. H. Gunderson & C. S. Holling (Eds.), Panarchy: Understanding transformations in human and natural systems (pp. 361–392). London, UK: Island Press. Gilbert, J. (2016). Transforming science education for the Anthropocene – Is it possible? Research in Science Education, 46(10), 187–201. Green, B. (2018). Curriculum studies in Australia: Stephen Kemmis and the Deakin legacy. In C. Edwards-Grove, P. Grootenboer, & J.Wilkinson (Eds.), Education in an era of schooling: Critical perspectives of educational practice and action research – A festschrift for Stephen Kemmis (pp. 27–46). Singapore: Springer Nature. Jensen, S. (2016). Empathy and imagination in education for sustainability. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 21, 89–105. Kemmis, S. (2008). Critical theory and participatory action research. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), The Sage handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (pp. 121– 138). London, UK: SAGE Publications. Kemmis, S.,Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Singapore: Springer. Kollmuss, A., & Agyeman, J. (2002). Mind the gap:Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behaviour. Environmental Education Research, 8, 239–260. Kopnina, H. (2014). Future scenarios and environmental education. Journal of Environmental Education, 45(4), 217–231. Kopnina, H., & Cherniak, B. (2015). Cultivating a value for non-human interests through the convergence of animal welfare, animal rights, and deep ecology in environmental education. Education Sciences, 5(4), 363–379.

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Lloyd, D., & Deans, J. A. (2017). Building on the buzz: Community learning about and valuing native Australian bees. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, 12(1), 1–33. Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-defcit disorder (2nd ed.). Chapel Hill, NC:Algonquin Books. Louv, R. (2011). The nature principle: Human restoration and the end of nature-defcit disorder. New York, NY:Algonquin Books. Moore, B., & Reid,A. (1992). Critical praxis model. In G. Crawford (Ed.), Learning and teaching models (pp. 157–184).Adelaide, South Australia: University of South Australia. National Research Council (NRC). (2010). Exploring the intersection of science education and 21st century skills:A workshop summary.Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Norberg-Hodge, H. (2019). Local is our future: Steps to an economics of happiness. East Hardwick, VT: Local Futures. Paige, K., Caldwell, D., Elliott, K., O’Keeffe, L., Osborne, S., Roetman, P., . . . Gosnell, S. (2018). Fresh water literacies: Transdisciplinary learning for place and eco justice: Final report. Adelaide, South Australia: University of South Australia. Paige, K., & Lloyd, D. (2016). Use of future scenarios as a pedagogical approach for science teacher education. Research in Science Education, 46, 263–285. Paige, K., Lloyd, D., & Chartres, M. (2008). Moving towards transdisciplinarity: An ecological sustainable focus for science and mathematics pre-service education in the primary/ middle years. Asia-Pacifc Journal of Teacher Education, 36(1), 19–33. Paige, K., Lloyd, D., & Smith, R. (2016). Pathway to ‘knowing places’ – and ecojustice – Three teacher educators’ experiences. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 32(3), 1–28. Paige, K., Lloyd, D., & Smith, R. (2019). Intergenerational education for adolescents towards liveable futures. New Castle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Paige, K., Lloyd, D., Zeegers,Y., Roetman, P., Daniels, C., Hoekman, B., . . . Szilassy, D. (2012). Connecting teachers and students to the natural world through Operation Spider: An aspirations citizen science project. Teaching Science, 58(1), 13–21. Paige, K., O’Keeffe, L., Geer, R., MacGregor, D., & Panizzon, D. (2019). Using artefacts to articulate teachers’ perceptions of STEM. Teaching Science, 65(10), 48–54. Pascoe, B. (2018). Dark emu:Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture. Broome,WA: Magabala Books. Smith, G. (2002). Place-based education: Learning to be where we are. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(8), 584–594. Sobel, D. (2017). Outdoor school for all: Reconnecting children to nature. In Worldwatch Institute, EarthEd: Rethinking education on a changing planet (pp. 23–33). Washington, DC: Island Press. Suzuki, D. (2010). The legacy:An elder’s vision for our sustainable future. Crow’s Nest, New South Wales:Allen & Unwin. Taylor, P. C. (2016).Why is a STEAM curriculum perspective crucial to the 21st century? In ACER, Research conference 2016 proceedings (pp. 89–93). Camberwell,Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research. Walker, B. (2019). Finding resilience: Change and uncertainty in nature and society. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: CABI.

11 INFORMAL SPACES FOR STEM LEARNING AND TEACHING STEM clubs Angela Fitzgerald, Tania Leach, Kate Davis, Neil Martin and Shelley Dunlop

Positioning the chapter STEM clubs differentiate themselves from formal classroom-based, curriculafocused programmes in a number of ways. First, they involve different dynamics between learners, as well as learners and their teacher, namely because of the freedom in not having to be aligned strongly with curriculum results in a more learnerdriven and co-constructed learning environment. Largely due to the environment and the smaller learner–teacher ratios, the partnerships formed between learners, teachers, parents, volunteers and others are often richer and more dynamic and have a more targeted impact than can be achieved in a typical classroom context with larger numbers and competing demands (Martin, Davis, Fitzgerald, Leach, & Piper, 2018). Although STEM-focused learning opportunities are increasingly fnding a place in the classroom, STEM clubs continue to fll a niche by regularly exposing children to STEM concepts, enterprise skills and capabilities in exploratory and engaging ways. In 2018, researchers from the University of Southern Queensland, working with Inspiring Australia Queensland (IAQ), hosted by Queensland Museum, and STEM clubs across Queensland (a northeastern state of Australia) developed a framework1 for making sense of what quality or effective learning and teaching might look like in STEM clubs.With funded support from IAQ, 47 STEM club providers took part in a pilot project, which included trialling the framework as a form of health check to understand the areas of strength and possible improvements in their offerings. This project involved a range of different types of STEM clubs, which afforded a unique opportunity to consider the role of context in club development and operation and in its impact on learning.The research component provided opportunities for the research team to engage directly with a number of educators, business owners and volunteers who operate STEM clubs in a variety of settings and capacities

Informal spaces for STEM


across Queensland. As a result of this work, this chapter presents a series of case studies exploring what STEM clubs look like and developing an understanding of the possibilities and challenges inherent in this informal approach to STEM education. A key question underpins this chapter: how do STEM clubs support STEM learning and teaching? By way of response, three different STEM club contexts are represented – private provider based, school based, and library based – before teasing out the commonalities in the conditions that they created to inform and enhance STEM learning and teaching.The next section provides a nationally (Australia) and internationally derived evidence base detailing what STEM clubs are and what purposes they intend to achieve.

Setting the scene Increasing student participation and engagement in STEM learning continues to be a well-documented challenge (Timms, Moyle,Weldon, & Mitchell, 2018).The STEM club movement is being driven, both nationally (in the Australian context) and internationally, by an identifed need from policymakers, industry and educators to encourage student participation in STEM-related activities (Gottfried & Williams, 2013; Lowrie, Downes, & Leonard, 2017). In this context, STEM clubs of differing confgurations and visions are providing informal participatory learning opportunities for children and young people.These opportunities are showing signs of having signifcant infuence on not only present-day engagement and immersion in STEM but also the future-oriented uptake of post-compulsory study and career paths in STEM-related felds (Behrendt, 2017; Gottfried & Williams, 2013). This approach is also having an impact on school-based achievement: Gottfried and Williams (2013) link participation in extracurricular STEM clubs with improvements across the four discrete learning areas that make up this construct (e.g. science, technology, engineering2 and mathematics). In further evidence of such wide-ranging impact, Ozis, Pektas,Akça and DeVoss (2018) discovered that STEM club participation has a signifcant impact on student attitudes towards STEM, with the potential for this approach to reduce the gender and ethnicity gaps in relation to STEM perception and provide a more diverse student population for the STEM pipeline. At their core, STEM clubs involve STEM-related content and skills delivered in informal learning settings. To focus on a key point of difference from schoolbased or formal contexts, learning environments can be defned as informal when they engage learners outside of the formalised school curriculum (Hofstein & Rosenfeld, 1996). An informal educational approach is typically underpinned by a different set of characteristics, goals, teaching approaches and learning outcomes than those valued in formal, school-oriented settings (Stewart & Jordan, 2017). For example, school settings centre on structured and often-standardised assessments of learning outcomes, whereas informal learning settings tend to be directed towards more open-ended outcomes that embrace serendipitous learning (SeftonGreen, 2013). However, the operationalisation of informal learning contexts also has a range of variation. This can include, for example, highly structured formats


Angela Fitzgerald et al.

through to more-participant-led learning arrangements (Sefton-Green, 2013). Kotys-Schwartz, Besterfeld-Sacre and Shuman (2011) suggest that there are three main types of settings that characterise informal learning: 1 2 3

Everyday experiences. Designed settings (e.g. zoos, museums, environmental centres). Programmed settings (e.g. programmes situated in schools, community-based settings, science organisations).

A defnitive defnition of a STEM club is diffcult to pin down, because each one is designed to suit a particular context and cohort. The project reported on in this chapter focused primarily on programmed settings that enabled participants to engage with a programme of STEM-focused learning activities or events over a sustained period of time.We suggest, however, that there is some overlap with designed settings as a number of the programmes we encountered took place in contexts such as libraries and museums.While informal in nature, programmed settings often ‘have structures that emulate formal school settings – planned curriculum, facilitators or mentors (taking a teaching role), and a group of students (or participants) who continuously participate in the program’ (Kotys-Schwartz et al., 2011, p. 2). In practice, we found that in Queensland STEM club learning appeared to occur during school hours (e.g. lunchtimes) or afterschool programmes (including weekends and holiday programmes) at local schools, libraries or community centres or with private providers (such as for proft, fee for service).

Stating a case(s) for STEM clubs Informal learning opportunities and out-of-school environments seem to be making some real progress in invigorating STEM education. Little is known, however, about what is actually happening in STEM clubs to effectively support and promote quality STEM learning and teaching outcomes. This is largely because much research is focused on detailing the logistics and outcomes of individual STEM clubs rather than on taking a more holistic perspective.As part of a larger study conducted by the authors, the stories of several STEM club providers were documented. For this chapter, to ensure the representation of the diversity of STEM club operations identifed in Queensland (as well as evident in literature worldwide), three cases are showcased: 1 2 3

Private provider. School-based provider. Library-based provider.

The insights shared are from interviews with educators, who were involved in the development and delivery of their specifc STEM club and have been crafted into stories by the research team. These stories capture the intent underpinning the establishment of the featured STEM clubs and then highlight the opportunities and challenges experienced in this space.

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Case Study 1.1 Private STEM club provider Building Block Studio Building Block Studio, located in suburban Brisbane (the capital city of Queensland), draws on the talents and interests of a dynamic husband and wife team to create an environment where children are inspired by and empowered in their use of technology. With a background in electronic and software engineering, Daniel had transitioned from two decades of working with consulting companies to the e-learning team at Education Queensland (the governing body for the state schooling system) for a number of years. While he was gaining inspiration from this work, Rebecca was fnding her work as an accountant not as invigorating as she would like and was craving an opportunity for more creativity. Their lives are also intertwined with the goings-on of their three sons, who were becoming increasingly involved in using technology. From this place, Building Block Studio was born at the start of 2016. Children as young as six years old participate in the Building Block Studio programmes, which cater to a variety of skill levels and interests under three broad umbrellas: Coding Club, YouTube Club and Robotics. There are typically four to 12 participants per group, and their attendance is stable. The workshops for both the ongoing weekday/weekend sessions and holiday offerings consistently book out in advance. Daniel and Rebecca do face challenges in the cohorts that they attract to their programmes. They struggle to reach teenagers and would like to engage this group because they have a signifcant amount of technical depth to offer in comparison to other STEM clubs in the market. Encouraging girls to attend the clubs is also a challenge with the current male–female ratio breakdown at 70 to 30. Participants and their families typically become aware of these STEM programmes through word of mouth, Facebook and the business’s website. They tried advertising their programmes through campaigns and paid advertisements but did not enjoy this process or fnd it benefcial. This approach has enabled Daniel and Rebecca to grow their business at their own pace and manageably keep up with its evolution. Building Block Studio is a multifaceted business, which started off focusing on activities relating to Lego before moving on to technologyfocused activities and competitions and is now branching off into running incursions in primary schools. This new school-based avenue is very much where the revenue is made, but Daniel and Rebecca’s hearts are with the regular participants who have the passion to turn up regularly


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to participate in the clubs. One of the biggest challenges in maintaining the business and ultimately attracting interested children and schools is developing new programmes and content. While Building Block Studio does have a huge content bank, Daniel and Rebecca are continuously considering how they can improve what they do. Rebecca tends to generate the ideas, while Daniel works out how to enact them in terms of the technology. The interests of their boys and the STEM club participants also inform content development. The club-based programmes have fallen into a planning pattern that focuses on skills development, such as solving everyday problems and seeking innovative/creative solutions. They use the clubs as a space to trial activities and approaches before taking them into a school context. The business entirely relies on Rebecca’s and Daniel’s time and energies, which raises questions about sustainability and the notion of succession planning. With sustainability front of mind, Daniel and Rebecca are taking several steps to address this issue. In the past year, they have been in a position to employ casual staff to assist with the clubs. They currently have three staff members – a female year 11 student (aged 16 years) and two male third-year university/undergraduate engineering students. They feel fortunate to have found great staff who connect with children, are good role models in their STEM participation and achievements and provide insightful feedback on how activities are received, in order to drive improvement. Daniel and Rebecca consider their staff to be highquality resources. They are also at a point in their business development of considering where to go next. One key idea, connected with their current experiences in schools, is developing a STEM subscription service for teachers. This service would provide access to the Building Block Studio content, and they would seek to develop purchasable kits to support activity implementation. Another aspect of this would be the ability for schools to hire technology equipment for a period of time and then return when fnished or swap for other resources. Daniel and Rebecca see this prospect as offering innovative STEM content and resources to schools for an affordable price as more schools are integrating STEM learning opportunities into their suite of offerings, both formally and informally. Another aspect to assist with sustainability is for Building Block Studio to seek out partnerships with STEM industry professionals to exercise their expertise and knowledge and to further inspire the children they work with. The vision underpinning why Daniel and Rebecca started Building Block Studio is simple: to create a place where children, who might

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not ft into mainstream extracurricular activities (such as sports), can be with like-minded peers and feel like they belong. Secondary to this is supporting children to develop the skills to actively participate in team situations. Daniel and Rebecca gain an enormous amount of satisfaction from making what they hope is a difference in the lives of the children they work with, particularly in the children’s’ engagement, collaborative skills, technical knowledge and sense of belonging. While Building Block Studio doesn’t have a formal evaluation process, as a paid service, if participants don’t return to a club or if they are not invited back to a school, this is considered as powerful feedback. Daniel and Rebecca do engage in self-evaluation and use informal feedback processes such as comments from teachers and parents to inform what they do. Knowing that the participants are enjoying the activities and wanting to continue participating is also part of this more informal feedback system.

At its core, this case positions STEM clubs as providing children with a place of belonging that piques their interests and further develops their STEM-related skills, both technically and socially. The key opportunity provided by Building Block Studio is their range of offerings that not only cater to a variety of needs but are informed by cutting-edge industry knowledge and expertise. In maintaining a viable business model, challenges inherent in this approach to STEM clubs include keeping up with the pace of change in the sector, subsequent development of workshops and ensuring the longer-term sustainability of the club to maintain a quality learning environment and experience.

Case Study 1.2 School-based STEM club The STEM Shack Located in regional Queensland, this school prides itself on the quality of their technology curriculum and extracurricular opportunities offered to all students. In 2015, Jay, a motivated early-career classroom teacher with a keen interest in digital technologies, noticed that during lunchtime supervision, some students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggled to socialise, which often resulted in conficts between students. He decided to use his lunchtime supervision to provide an alternative to these students. As a result, library lunchtime coding activities were offered. Initially, students with ASD and other disabilities engaged in independent computing coding programmes using Scratch and, where they moved


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through levels and attained certifcates of completion. The positive participation within these activities was noticed by school staff and students, and as participation increased, an informal STEM Club emerged. The school principal and Jay saw the growing potential of the club to complement their school-wide implementation of the new, digitally focused component of the technologies curriculum (e.g. as part of the Australian curriculum) and the club was formalised and renamed the STEM Shack. Jay’s formal lunchtime supervision allocation was used to offer the opportunity to all students during two 40-minute lunch breaks per week. The STEM Shack profle grew through the school’s participation in a digital technology launch project, which encouraged Jay to identify issues that may prevent the club from moving forward. From this, he identifed that technology in his school community was viewed as the enemy of physical activity, that kids were going to be sitting on computers not being active. Jay decided to dispel this myth and initiated a formal communication strategy through the school newsletter and information sessions to help the community understand what technology is and why it is important and enjoyable to students. This strategy increased the club profle and highlighted the positive engagement and learning that was occurring through the STEM Shack. The community saw the value, and parent helpers approached the school to volunteer their time. This was quickly followed by other schools visiting the club to observe the positive student engagement, structure and informal STEM learning outcomes. As outside interest in the club grew, staff at the school began to visit the club, often returning to build their own professional knowledge by participating in the coding courses. In 2016, student interest exceeded the available resources, which resulted in formalising student participation into two semester intakes. Students who had not participated in the previous semester were prioritised, with a maximum of 27 students participating per intake. With a focus on positive participation, socialisation and coding skill development, the structure of the STEM club has adapted to meet student interests and engagement needs. As a result, the STEM Shack structure and offerings have changed. Jay described it as a ‘space where kids can work on a variety of different things related to what we do in school and what they’re interested in’. This is refected in the structure of the STEM Shack, which now, with the assistance of parent helpers, offers two simultaneous areas: 1 2

Coding skill development. Programming using resources such as Minecraft: Education Edition, drones and Lego robotics.

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In addition to this, Jay has established two afterschool programmes. This frst programme is Code Red, where students engage in collaborative construction-based activities using Minecraft: Education Edition and programming using Scratch or The second programme targets older students and is focused on learning to fy drones. Jay and his parent helper (who is a computer programmer) have created their own programme where students are taught the basics of fight (informed by understandings of physics) with small challenges to complete. The club has a fight simulator that students use to obtain their drone licence. Once obtained, students are equipped with the skills to fy nano-drones for fun. Jay’s positive approach to resourcing the STEM Shack has resulted in a large variety of coding and programming kits being used. By beginning small and continually refecting on how the students engage and what they are interested in, Jay was able to use free coding resources, access government grants and strategically align the STEM club resources with the school’s technology curriculum needs to use school funds. As a result of this, the resource bank has grown signifcantly to include a range of robots and programming kits that cater to a diverse range of students. Jay sees this as a great opportunity for other teachers in the school to include some simple computer programming and coding activities into the classroom and has observed a positive shift in the way other staff see the technology curriculum area as well as how supportive they are of the STEM clubs. Aligning the STEM club with the school’s technologies curriculum has allowed the STEM Shack to be a more student-centred space, where students have opportunities to use what they know, to be creative and create their own things. Jay acknowledges that in the formal technology curriculum, learning with the classroom provides scaffolded learning, which allows the STEM club teacher to be more of a facilitator. Using a health check as a basis for continual refection and refnement has provided Jay with processes for linking the school priorities to the STEM clubs, so that these informal learning opportunities have become an integral part of the school’s identity. Moving forward, Jay sees the growing potential to expand the opportunities for students to innovate in the digital technologies space and is mindful that this needs to be balanced with the provision of targeted resources, time and space to collaboratively develop the skills and confdence of parent helpers and school staff. As Jay says, there are no limits to what a STEM club can offer. Schools can start a STEM club with little funding; it just requires one person who is interested and focused on ensuring that whatever is offered has a positive impact on students.


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This case highlights the role that STEM clubs can play in the meaningful engagement of students with diverse learning needs and how intentional STEM-focused skill development can support positive participation, socialisation and inclusion. A real opportunity present in the approach used by the STEM Shack was a sustained effort over time to bring the school community on board and build the necessary resources to fully operationalise this club. The challenge implicit in this approach, however, is the necessary passion and energies required from one central person to drive this initiative and adopt STEM-based activities as a context for school-wide change.

Case Study 1.3 Library-based STEM club #STEAMsquad Western Downs Libraries is a nine-branch public library service operated by the Western Downs Regional Council. The region is situated west of Toowoomba in Queensland and has a population of approximately 33,000. The area is classifed as regional, with its major industry being agriculture. Western Downs Libraries operates a programme called #STEAMsquad, a weekly programme for school-age children that runs for six weeks in each school term. Limiting each round to six weeks provides time for programme planning and activity development, and it allows facilitators to balance #STEAMsquad with other educational initiatives, including school holiday programmes. The programme is run at two of the service’s branches, two days a week at each location, for a total of four cohorts each round. They accept 12 learners per cohort, who each attend one session per week for the six-week programme. This allows the service to accept 48 children each round. The programme is exceptionally popular: when bookings open for each round, they typically book out within ten minutes. The programme currently accepts children age seven and up. There is no age limit, but facilitators report that children ‘lose interest’ at around age 12. While there is some repeat attendance from round to round (in fact, some children have been attending consistently for the two years the programme has been operating), the aim is not to retain participants from round to round but rather to provide a discrete experience in each round. The programme focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) rather than a STEM because the facilitators believe that incorporating the ways of thinking and doing that characterise the

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arts and arts-focused practice, including creative expression, is important in catering to a diverse range of learning needs and attitudes towards STEM. They see creativity as a critical lens for the future workforce that must innovate and solve complex problems. The programme of activities is therefore carefully planned to incorporate a balance of all fve STEAM elements. The programme facilitators design structured activity kits by using templates that enable facilitators with limited experience to pick up the kit and deliver the programme. This allows a range of library staff to play a role in running the programme, but it also means the kits can be made available for schools to borrow. The service invests a signifcant amount of time into kit development and review. The kits are produced cheaply, and materials used are typically craft supplies and easily accessible supermarket supplies. Library staff are often surprised at how simple activities and materials – like an activity that uses bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to replicate a volcano erupting – engage and excite participants. The programme arose out of an identifed need in the community. There was a perception that the local schools may not have the time to offer STEAM experiences outside the classroom or the funding to support this kind of extracurricular informal learning programme. Library staff wanted to give children opportunities to engage with STEAM outside of school in an informal learning environment. There was also a desire to run a regularly scheduled activity that wasn’t the typical library book club. Finally, there was an identifed opportunity to provide meaningful interaction for children who regularly attended the library after school and a sense that engaging them in a STEAM programme might help. #STEAMsquad provides opportunities for learners with interests that are outside traditional pursuits like sport, music or other group-based extracurricular activities to gain experience working in a team and to have a sense of belonging. It also provides opportunities for girls to get involved in STEM. In this sense, the club plays an inclusion role, providing opportunities for marginalised groups to get involved in a group activity and to develop an interest in STEM. When designing activities, there is a focus on fun and excitement. ‘It’s giving the kids a chance to have fun with science outside of the school. We don’t want to replicate anything that’s done in the curriculum, we just want kids to experience fun science, just have fun with it’ (library staff member). The programme is operated by a small committed group of staff who develop programme resources around their other responsibilities. This is


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a common practice in libraries: staff with programme delivery responsibilities often ft the development work in around the other operational aspects of their jobs. Some of the constraints that the programme is limited by include staff capacity, volunteer support, access to activity resources or kits and (one-off and ongoing) funding. Related to this, there is also a sense that they need more volunteer support to help the programme be sustainable and to grow. This might involve assistance with preparing activities and kits or with facilitation. Access to kits or activities designed and tested by other clubs would aid sustainability, because there is a considerable amount of time involved in kit development, since each activity is thoroughly tested before being included in a kit. Finally, funding is an issue, as it is for many STEM clubs. While the library staff members are able to assemble kits cheaply, having technology resources to take out to schools and use in #STEAMsquad is highly valued. Grant funding has supported the purchase of these types of materials in the past. Although they have been operating a well-attended STEM programme for over two years, library staff have not had an opportunity to take a step back and take a holistic look at their practice. While they intuitively knew why they were offering the programme – to give learners opportunities for fun, exciting, informal STEAM learning that they weren’t getting in schools – they had never taken the opportunity to articulate a vision or direction for the club. Participating in the pilot of the evaluation framework, which included refecting on the club’s vision, gave staff members an opportunity to take a critical look at their practice and to articulate the vision they were instinctively working towards. In terms of evaluation, the focus has largely been on collecting attendance statistics, because this is a requirement for reporting to their parent organisation. They are not required to undertake programme evaluation, but there is a growing focus on reporting on impact through telling stories, and the team members are collecting stories to support this. Twice a year, the team of staff involved in delivering the programme get together to discuss what is and isn’t working. This is informed largely by informal observations of what happens during the sessions. For the #STEAMsquad facilitators, success can be defned as ‘being booked out within ten minutes’. Parents have relayed stories to the facilitators about how their children remind them that registrations are opening so that they do not forget to book them in immediately, evidencing participants’ motivation to be part of the programme. Success also looks like participants who are ‘happy, laughing, they’d just be – just there you know, in the moment feeling it, having fun doing it’.

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This case centres on using STEAM-focused activities as an alternative way to engage children in a library context. #STEAMsquad in itself was an opportunity in that it created an accessible way for the community to access STEM-related learning experiences that it would otherwise not be exposed to. The production of fully resourced kits also supported the smooth and consistent operation of these clubs. This did not, however, negate the challenges that the library team faced in managing the resourcing – both material and human – of #STEAMsquad and the funding components necessary to maintain the quality of their club offerings.

Conditions informing learning and teaching in STEM clubs At a glance, these cases seem to tell three different stories about how STEM clubs are used to engage school-aged learners in developing STEM knowledge and skills. On the surface, it might seem that the informal nature of the learning environment is the common thread pulling these partnerships together, but a closer examination reveals that it runs much deeper than this. These three cases illustrate that while there is no single way that STEM clubs support meaningful and authentic approaches to STEM learning and teaching, there are a number of components that can foster the right educational conditions. From these cases, the following four conditions emerged: 1 2 3 4

Meet a community need. Include diverse learners and learning needs. Create a space for passionate learning. Respond to the context.

Each condition is explored in more depth in the following subsections.

Meeting a community need By their very nature, clubs refect the needs of the community in which they are positioned. Research into the value of sporting clubs clearly documents this trend (Centre for Sport and Social Impact,2015). These fndings have applicability to other club contexts because they capture the interests and aspirations of the cohorts they represent.As STEM capabilities become both more prevalent and more valued (Siekmann & Korbel, 2016), communities are recognising the need to create spaces that support the exploration of STEM ideas (Lowrie, Downes, & Leonard, 2017). The three cases reveal that their STEM clubs were formed to meet an identifed need in their community. Thematically, these needs can be characterised by three constructs: purpose, belonging and opportunity. Both the school-based and library-based cases foregrounded issues with managing behaviour, which includes levels of engagement and interest, as a key stimulus for introducing a STEM club and providing participants with a sense of purpose. Fostering a sense of purpose within a learning environment matters because it


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provides direction and focus which may otherwise be missing or challenging to achieve in other contexts (Tirri, Moran, & Mariano, 2016). Equally, it is about facilitating an opportunity to learn at the point of need for the learner, which could target skills, capabilities and/or attributes (Tirri et al., 2016). As an informal learning context, STEM clubs have an enhanced capacity to target what they do to recognise the needs of their specifc cohorts and to provide activities that engage their interests (Martin, 2004). In this sense, STEM clubs have the capacity to be a bridge between personal capabilities and skill development. Finding authentic ways to cater to the diverse participant needs was another factor driving STEM club formation for both the school-based provider and private provider. Regardless of the cohort, the intent of the STEM clubs, in these instances, was to bring like-minded individuals together through a shared interest. Fostering a sense of belonging reassures learners of the safety of the learning environment in terms of understanding and meeting their needs and challenging and extending their knowledge and skills (Sahin, Ayar, & Adiguzel, 2014). For learners with ASD, a place to belong is particularly important because shared understandings reduce potential confict and confusion (Tobias, 2009). This sentiment applies to other cohorts, including girls (Dasgupta & Stout, 2014) and teenagers (Haugen, Wachter, & Wester, 2019). Engaging in club-based activities is an important developmental component in a young person’s life (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2016). Anecdotally, the club landscape in Australia remains focused on extracurricular activities in the areas of sport (such as team sports, gymnastics) and the arts (music, theatre). As interests change, however, club offerings need to as well (Krishnamurthi, Ballard, & Noam, 2014). In this context, both the library-based provider and private provider instigated their STEM clubs as a way to address a need. The provision of a diversity of informal learning opportunities opens up avenues to participants’ that are new, didn’t seem possible or hadn’t previously been considered (de Carteret, 2008). In summary, STEM clubs are often set up to meet a particular community need. By meeting this need, STEM club participants are provided with a sense of purpose, an avenue through which to belong and opportunities to extend their learning in meaningful ways.

Including diverse learners and learning needs An inclusive learning environment typically welcomes and provides equitable opportunities for all learners, regardless of their gender, physical, intellectual, ethnic, social, emotional or linguistic backgrounds (Harris, Miske, & Attig, 2004). Despite decreasing STEM participation rates and disproportionate gender and ethnic representation reported in formal settings (Prinsley & Johnston, 2015), each STEM club in this study attributed their success to promoting an inclusive learning environment.While each STEM club took a different approach to inclusion, each used social structures to promote learning by, for example, fostering positive participation and respectful interactions between facilitators, participants and peers (O’Keeffe, 2013).

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In an informal environment, the facilitators provide a particularly critical role in promoting positive interactions between participants and engaging them in the learning process (Gillies, 2006). For the school-based and private providers, the facilitator’s role was fexible.They were often positioned as a ‘supporter on the side’ moving between individuals and groups to provide affrmative feedback and specifc support. At other times, they were ‘co-learners’ who were in the process by actively modelling verbal and nonverbal learning behaviours.This pedagogical approach differs from simply planning group activities in that it requires STEM club facilitators to consciously interact with participants to foster open and positive communication by modelling how to question and clarify. The pedagogies adopted by the STEM clubs highlight how inclusive practices are fostered when interpersonal and intrapersonal skill development is valued. Catering to a diverse range of learning needs requires considered and careful planning so that each participant can access and engage in the provided learning opportunities (Carter & Abawi, 2018). In this instance, each STEM club catered to a range of participant ages, and programmes were essentially multi-age in nature. To support these diverse learning needs, a range of interactive, indirect (problem and inquiry) and experiential (real-world applications) pedagogical methods were used (Saskatchewan, 1991).The school-based and private providers used parallel or sequenced activities that catered to different interests, abilities and learning styles. In contrast, the approach of the library-based provider was to develop and implement pre-planned kits that led the students through an inquiry question or series of steps to explore a topic in a fun and engaging way. By explicitly designing their learning spaces and purposefully incorporating specifc pedagogical methods, the STEM clubs enabled participants to learn within a social structure where their individual strengths were used and individual needs catered to. While each STEM club’s planning approach was different, a common thread of refective practice was evidenced.The clubs were informed by the participants’ interest and engagement to determine the effectiveness of the provided learning opportunities and to make decisions about where to go next.Through these refective cycles, which in terms of the three cases previously described are more explicit in some situations than in others, decisions were made that maximised or enhanced learning opportunities.The result was the provision of an educational space where students felt safe, comfortable and included.

Creating a space for passionate learning As informal learning environments, STEM clubs naturally afford autonomous learning opportunities for students at relatively low stakes when compared to formal settings. Autonomy, along with good-quality relationships and opportunities to increase competence, is important in facilitating intrinsic motivation, where the participant engages with an activity because they fnd it interesting and enjoyable (Ryan & Deci, 2017).This interest and enjoyability is because of the inherent qualities of the learning experience rather than specifc extrinsic outcomes such as


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a good test result or performing better than a fellow student. There is signifcant evidence to suggest that when learners are intrinsically motivated, they learn with greater depth and conceptual understanding and with positive attitudes and emotions (León, Núñez, & Liew, 2015; Su & Reeve, 2011). Effective STEM clubs act as incubators for positive and joyful learning experiences. They are a learning environment where STEM-focused discovery is psychologically rewarding. As showcased by the three cases, well-crafted STEM club learning activities provide opportunities for students to discover natural phenomena or be challenged to solve problems either on their own or with their peers and facilitators.Through their actions, an engaged learner wholeheartedly endorses what they are doing, feels that they can choose what they are learning, grows in competence and mastery and develops relationships with others. Further, their personal well-being may be positively supported not just through engaging with interesting activities but also through the development of relationships with their STEM club peers and facilitators. The facilitators’ passion for STEM should not be underestimated in contributing to the success of a STEM club.This was certainly evident in the STEM clubs described in the cases presented in this chapter. Passion can be described as a set of powerful emotions in relation to a particular subject or activity.Vallerand (2015) describes a dualistic model of passion, where passion can be obsessive or harmonious. Obsessive passion involves engaging in an activity at the expense of other aspects of life. In contrast, harmonious passion involves being fully engaged in a personally important activity through choice and in proportion to other important things in their life. A harmoniously passionate STEM club facilitator will be passionate about STEM but also see relationships as important and want participants to be happy. An obsessively passionate STEM club facilitator may become fxated on activities being done absolutely correctly (e.g. no room for experimentation or learning from errors) or on students winning a STEM competition rather than participating for the experience.These cases suggest that effective STEM clubs involve harmoniously passionate facilitators that are able to convey their love and excitement for STEM to the students, who in turn are engaged and excited as well. To conclude, a STEM club will typically consist of engaged students who are intrinsically motivated to learn about a specifc area of STEM, feel they have some choice about their learning and may nurture a passion that is mirrored by the passion expressed by the STEM club facilitator. In many ways, some of the structural aspects that are necessary in the formal classroom are cast aside in a STEM club environment, which contributes to being able to engage more spontaneously in the joy of STEM discovery and thereby its success.

Responding to the context In this chapter, STEM clubs are represented as operating in three organisational contexts: a private enterprise, a school and a library service.These examples demonstrate that context is a multifaceted concept. STEM club contexts include the

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local communities that they operate in and the broader organisations in which they are situated. Context can also refer to the physical environment within which the STEM club operates. Regardless, the STEM clubs described in the case studies illustrate the importance of responding to context to support effective STEM learning. One fnding that emerged was that clubs positioned inside a broader organisation – in this instance, a school or library service – experience similar factors impacting STEM club operation. For example, support from the organisation’s leadership is critical to STEM club success.Time is also a common issue, and both teachers and library staff take STEM club responsibilities on in addition to their usual workload or juggle STEM club work around other commitments. Staff interest and expertise create issues in staffng STEM club activities on an ongoing basis, which impact succession planning. Finally, funding constraints are also common in STEM clubs operating within a broader organisation. Effectively managing organisational considerations and their impacts on STEM club operation is critical to creating a positive STEM learning and teaching environment. A potential challenge for STEM clubs operating in schools is to manage the tension between the formal classroom learning environment and the informal environment of a STEM club. Ideally, the role of STEM club facilitator is to mentor (Dolenc, Mitchell, & Tai, 2016) and to ‘step back from being “in control”’ (Blanchard, Hoyle, & Gutierrez, 2017, p. 91). For teachers, it may be challenging to shift between their role as teacher and that as facilitator. STEM clubs run by libraries and private STEM club providers, on the other hand, because they are run outside the school and classroom environment, are staffed by people who are not teachers.They do not have the same ties to formal curriculum that might be present, even subconsciously, in school-based clubs. While it is certainly possible to create an effective informal learning environment in a school setting, it might be easier to achieve this when a STEM club is outside a formal context. Responding to context is so essential to effective STEM club practice that it is inextricably linked to the other three conditions drawn out in this chapter. In meeting community needs, STEM clubs are effectively responding to their context. A focus on including diverse learners and their learning needs is another example of STEM clubs responding to their context. In creating space for passionate learning, STEM clubs are again responding to their broader context by carving out space for students to pursue interests, deeply engage with STEM and participate in informal learning, even when the broader organisational context is one built around formal learning (as in school-based STEM clubs). Regardless of the context in which they operate, to provide effective informal learning experiences that nurture a passion for STEM, clubs must respond to the context in which they are positioned.This means responding to the community in which the club is situated and to the broader organisational context. It also means carefully considering the impact of the organisational context on the creation of an environment that facilitates informal STEM learning.


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What does this mean for STEM learning and teaching? STEM clubs, by their very nature, offer a powerful and alternative way to engage with STEM education that does not rely on complying with the requirements and structures that inform more-formalised classroom-based practices. Learners and facilitators are able to engage in STEM discovery together in ways in which natural curiosity and exploration is rewarded.The three cases shared in this chapter respond to the key question underpinning this project – how do STEM clubs support STEM learning and teaching? – in that they showcase the value that this more informal learning approach can have in the STEM knowledge and skill development for both participants and facilitators. Emerging from these cases are four conditions that can be drawn on to make sense of STEM club effectiveness: 1 2 3 4

Meet the needs of the communities they are positioned in. Cater to diverse learners and learning needs. Promote learning for the joy of it. Flexibly work with contextualised factors.

These four conditions are useful outcomes of this project because they have implications that can be applied in two key ways to inform and improve STEM education practices. First, they can be considered as a framework of sorts from which to develop and implement a relevant and meaningful STEM club.This is particularly useful if the conditions are reframed as questions – for example, what are the specifc needs of your community? – to lead discussions about the possibilities and challenges that might be faced. Second, these conditions can be reimagined as a set of considerations for teachers to modify and adapt to suit their own classrooms, practices and environments. Building on this idea that formal educational contexts might draw on these conditions to enhance learning, the following prompt questions provide a starting place for teachers to explore how they can beneft from considering these four conditions. •

Need What exposure do students have to STEM in the community, both within the school and beyond? What gaps might need to be bridged? How might teachers partner with community-based organisations to meet the needs of students?

Inclusion How might teachers capitalise on student interest to provide STEM experiences that align with curriculum? How might STEM education act as a bridge for learners with diverse needs to have meaningful social interactions with the peers? How might STEM education facilitate a sense of belonging and purpose for students who may not have other opportunities to work in a team?

Informal spaces for STEM


Engagement How might we facilitate experiences that delight, spark interest in, foster excitement for and encourage engagement? How might we balance the need to teach to a curriculum with creating educational experiences that foster a genuine love of learning?

Context What contextual factors in the school and its community affect delivering engaging STEM educational experiences in the classroom? What are the barriers, and how might they be overcome? What enablers exist, and how might we capitalise on those?

While there are contextual and other factors at play in school environments that affect the capability to adopt informal learning approaches in the classroom, there are certainly opportunities for teachers to draw on the conditions explored in this chapter to create engaging STEM learning experiences in a formal learning setting.

Notes 1 More details on the framework can be found on the Inspiring Australia Queensland website at 2 In the Australian curriculum, engineering is connected with the learning area of technologies and more specifcally aligned with design and technologies.This is similarly the case in New Zealand, with the learning area of technology capturing the skills and capabilities identifable with engineering practices.

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Page numbers in italic indicate a fgure and page numbers in bold indicate a table on the corresponding page.) 5E model of inquiry 20 21st century skills 7, 46, 105–106, 151 ACARA (Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority): and 21st century skills 105; contrasted with Indian curriculum 118; and critical and creative thinking 108; and Indigenous perspectives 19, 23; and inquiry skills 29, 31, 132; pre-primary level 51, 52; and rich task approach 106; and science strand 32, 80 active learning 41 adaptability, in STEM Central Project 75 The Advancing Education action plan 3 Agent Exoplanet 91–95, 93 Akça, M. Ö. 169 Allchin, L. 95 Almon, J. 47 Amanti, C. 14 Anderson, D. 8 Anicha, C. L. 13 Animal Rescue module 47–58 Archambault, L. 132 arts, as addition to STEM education 176–177 ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) 173–174, 180 Ashoka U 66 assessment see testing attitudes, teacher see teacher attitudes, crosscultural

Australian Academy of Science 20, 103 Australian Curriculum see ACARA (Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority) Australian Curriculum General Capabilities and Cross-Curricula Priorities 23 Australia Pacifc LNG, 63–64, 66; see also STEM Central Project Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 173–174, 180 Ayers, W. 15–16 Ball of Fear activity: in primary education setting 33–36, 34; in university setting 36–40, 37, 38, 39, 40 “banking” model of education 13 Barak, M. 151 Bartolome, L. 14 Behrend,T. S. 20 Bevan, B. 131 big-ideas approach 5 Boyne Aluminum Smelter 65 Bransford, J. D. 152 Brayboy, B. M. J. 15 Bryan, L.A. 5 Building Block Studio 171–173 Cajete, G. 15 Calabrese Barton,A. 13, 22 Campbell, C. 9, 143 Cantu, D. 101


Carter, M. L. 5 Castagno,A. E. 15 Cement Australia 65 Central Queensland University 66; see also STEM Central Project Centre for Sports and Social Impact 179 Chalmers, C. 5 Cherniak, B. 159 Chesky, N. Z. 151 chief scientist,Australia 3–4, 62, 151 Christensen, R. 20 Chubb, Ian 62 Citizen Science 8;Agent Exoplanet 91–95, 93; benefts of 95–97; Globe at Night 88–91, 89; Identify New Zealand Animals 82–84, 83; overview 79–81; Planet Hunters 91–95, 93; The Plastic Tide 84–88, 85 coding skills 1, 173–174 collaborative learning 30–31, 37–38, 39–40, 106, 107, 109–111 collectivist v. individualist approach 119, 127–129 Comer, M. 2 communication: directional language 50–51; language used in cooperative groups 35–36; locational language 50–51; peer discussions 33–35; in STEM Central Project 72; teacher guidance during peer discussions 34–35, 49–50 community-based education see place-based education community engagement 73–74, 76 community needs and STEM clubs 179– 180, 184 Constantinou, C. C. 102 content integration see integrated approach; interdisciplinary nature of STEM contextual learning see real-life applications; STEM clubs control over learning, student 134 Cooper, T. 5 cooperative learning see collaborative learning Cordeiro, P.A. 64 creative thinking 16, 21–22, 108–109 Crippen, K. J. 132 critical pedagogy 14–15 critical praxis approach 154–159 critical thinking 16, 108–109 cultural expectations and STEM teaching 119 cultural heritage 14 culturally responsive pedagogy 13–14 Curious Minds, Nation of 79–80


curriculum, Australia see ACARA curriculum, New Zealand see New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) Davis, K. 9 defcit framing 14 Department of Education,Australia 64 design 109; in Animal Rescue module 47–58; in Ball of Fear activity 33–40; design process 84; in Maker Faires 143– 144; and STEM clubs 181–182, 185 Design and Make Day 102–104 Designed for Good 84 designed settings 170 determination, in STEM Central Project 75–76 DeVoss, D.A. 169 Diezmann, C. 64 digital technology and coding 1, 87, 90, 173–174 directional language 50–51 diverse learners and STEM: creative thinking 16; critical pedagogy 14–15; critical thinking 16; culturally responsive pedagogy 13–14; fve dimensions framework 16–23; place-based pedagogy 15–16; science education, faws in current system 13; and STEM clubs 180–181, 184 Dobber, M. 31 Dougherty, D. 133 Downes, N. 18 driver of project, in STEM Central Project 74–75 Dunlop, S. 9 early career researcher programme (ECR) 67, 70 early childhood education see play-based learning for kindergarten mathematics eco-justice see sustainability education Educational Computing Association of Western Australia 47 Education Council 62–63, 64, 76 Electronic Quality of Inquiry Protocol (EQUIP) 42 embedded approach 101, 102 engagement see community engagement; student engagement English, L. D. 5, 18, 22, 151 environmental education see sustainability education Erichsen, E.A. 13 Erickson, F. 49 exam-oriented teaching 124, 125–126

190 Index

experiential pedagogy 15–16, 17, 20–21 expertise, in STEM Central Project 68–69 fair testing process 36, 109 Fensham, P. 13, 16 Finkel, A. 3 Fitzgerald, A. 9 fve dimensions framework 16–23 Fleer, M. 47 focus groups 120 Fogarty, W. 15 free play 57–58 Fresh Water Literacies 159–164 funding for STEM 3, 117 Gadanidis, G. 22 Gainsburg, J. 151 Gallopin, C. 154 Gay, G. 14–15 Geer, R. 152 gender bias in STEM education 177 George, Sindu 9 girls, inclusion in STEM education 177 Gladstone region 64–66 Globe at Night 88–91, 89 Gonzalez, N. 14 Greenberg, D. 22 group work see collaborative learning guided inquiry model 134 guided play and math 52, 52–57, 54, 55, 56, 57 guided questioning 50–51 Habaermas, Jürgen 155 Halverson, E. R. 134 Hansen, A. 140 Harlow, D. 140 harmonious passion 182 Hobbs, Linda 9, 143 Hofstede, G. 119, 127–128 Holmlund, T. 80 Hughes, J. M. 22 IAQ (Inspiring Queensland Australia) 168 ICSEA (Index of Community SocioEducational Advantage) 49 Identify New Zealand Animals 82–84, 83 inclusion see diverse learners and STEM Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) 49 India: delivery of content in STEM areas 123–124; educational system 117–119; teachers’ concepts of STEM 122 Indigenous communities 19, 66, 154; Indigenous pedagogical frameworks 15

individualist v. collectivist approach 119, 127–129 industry partnerships for STEM see partnerships, university/industry informal learning 170 inquiry-based learning 8, 132; Ball of Fear project for pre-service teachers 36–40; Ball of Fear project for primary level students 33–36; challenges of 41–42; contrasted with active learning 41; effectiveness of 32–33; overview 28–32, 30 in-service training see professional training, teachers’ Inspiring Queensland Australia (IAQ) 168 integrated approach 101, 127, 152 intentionality in STEM education 5 interdisciplinary nature of STEM 2–3, 4–5 international testing 3, 12 ITE (initial teacher education) 101, 102 Kaiser, L. 30, 31 Kaitiakitanga 82, 84–85 Keamy, R. 64 Kelley, T. 132 Kemmis, Stephen 165 kindergarten see play-based learning for kindergarten mathematics King, D. 5 Knapp, C. E. 15 Knezek, G. 20 Knowles, J. G. 132 Kolek, M. M. 64 Koprina, H. 159 Korbel, P. 2–3 La Force, M. 19 language: directional 50–51; locational 50–51; used in cooperative groups 35–36 Larkin, K. 58 Leach, Tania 9 LearnUp 6 Lee, S. 15 Lemke, J. L. 14 Leonard, S. 18 Lesseig, K. 80 Lewthwaite, B. E. 15 library-based STEM club case study 176–179 literacy: scientifc 32–33; statistical 91 Lloyd, David 9 locational language 50–51 Lowrie,T. 18, 20, 58 low SES (socioeconomic status) communities: at Central Queensland University 66; and contextual learning 22–23; and disparities in outcome 12;


and experiential learning 20; and fve dimensions framework 18; and student engagement 7–8, 24; see also diverse learners and STEM Lucas, B. 21 Luczak-Roesch, Markus 81 Lunchtime Maths Club 104 Lynch, S. J. 20 MacGregor, D. 152 Maker Faires: case studies 141–142, 143– 146; evaluation of outcomes 140–148; maker movement 132–134; SEPS (STEM and entrepreneurship in primary school) 134–139 Maker Media 133 maker movement 132–134 makerspaces 133 Malai, D. 30 Manaia Kalani Digital Teachers Academy Program 116 Mansfeld, Jennifer 9 marginalized communities 66, 177; see also Indigenous communities; low SES (socioeconomic status) communities Martin, L. 131 Martin, Neil 9 Martinez, S. 133 Mathematical Association of Western Australia 47 mathematics: global trends 3; readiness in early childhood 46; see also play-based learning for kindergarten mathematics: Maths Club 104 Mayer, J. 30 McConney, Andrew 8 Means, B. B. 20 Menon, D. 101, 102 Mettas,A. C. 102 Midenhall, Paula 8 Miller, E. 47 Minecraft 174, 175 Ministry of Education, New Zealand 80, 105 Minniti, L. 22 Moll, L. C. 14 Moore, B. 155 motivation, student see student engagement Nadelson, L. S. 5 NAIDOC week 19–20 NAPLAN (National Assessment Program in Literacy and Numeracy) 119 Nason, R. 5 National Optical Astronomy Observatory (U. S.) 88


National Research Council (U. S.) 29, 31, 151 National Science Education Standards (NSES) 29 National Science Foundation (U. S.) 2 National STEM School Education Strategy (Australia) 3, 116 Nation of Curious Minds 79–80 Native Australian bees 154–159 New Zealand Curriculum (NZC): mathematics and statistics 91; and online citizen science 81, 85, 86, 97; and STEM 80; and Treaty of Waitangi 23 NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) 29, 140 Norberg-Hodge, H. 153 Norman, G. 141 NRG Power Station 65 NSES (National Science Education Standards) 29 NZC (New Zealand Curriculum) see New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) NZME (New Zealand Ministry of Education) 23 obsessive passion 182 OCS (Offce of the Chief Scientist) 3–4, 62, 151 see also chief scientist, Australia OECD Learning Framework 2030 22–23 O’Keeffe, Lisa 9, 152 online citizen science see Citizen Science Orica 65 Owen, C. 16 Ozis, P. E. 169 Paige, Kathy 9, 152 Panizzon, D. 152 Papert, Seymour 133 partnerships, school/industry: in Finland 146 partnerships, school/university: and collaborative learning 109–111; and creative thinking 108–109; and critical thinking 108–109; Design and Make Day 102–104; evaluation of 104–105; Lunchtime Maths Club 104; outcomes 111–112; pre-service teacher education 100–102; and rich tasks 106–108 partnerships, university/industry: Australia Pacifc LNG 63–64, 66; and capacity building 67–70; Central Queensland University 66; Gladstone region 64–66; and shared vision 70–72; STEM as Australian priority 62–63; STEM Central Project 66–76; STEM partnerships

192 Index

63–64; and sustainability 72–76; vignettes 67–68, 70–71, 73–74 passion, harmonious contrasted with obsessive 182 passionate learning see student engagement peer discussions 33–35 Pektas,A. O. 169 persistence, in STEM Central Project 75–76 personal contact, scientists with students 82, 90 Peters-Burton, E. E. 20 Pfeiffer, Linda 8 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) 3 place-based education 15–16; as part of fve dimensions framework 17, 19–20 Planet Hunters 91–95, 93 The Plastic Tide 84–88, 85 play: free 57–58; guided 51–56; play-based educational approaches 8 play-based learning for kindergarten mathematics 45–59;Animal Rescue module 47–58; evaluation of play-based teaching 49–57; mathematics readiness in early childhood 46; play-based teaching 46–49; STEM background 45–46 practical applications see real-life scenarios; transfer and action Prescott, Anne 8 pre-service teachers: and self-effcacy 110, 111–112; teacher education 100–101 Pressick-Kilborn, Kimberley 8 Primary Connections curriculum 20, 103 private provider STEM club case study 171–173 professional training, teachers’ 126–127, 134–135 programmed settings 170 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 3 Queensland Aluminum 65 Queensland Museum 168 Razzouk, R. 16 real-life applications 4–5, 28, 47, 144–145; see also citizen science; place-based education; relevance Reid, A. 155 relevance, as part of fve dimensions framework 17, 18–19 reliability, in STEM Central Project 69 reputation, in STEM Central Project 70 RG Tanna Coal Terminal 65

rich tasks 106–108 Ringwald, Alexis 6 Rio Tinto Yarwun 65 Roberts, A. 101 Roth, W-M. 15 Sadler,T. D. 101, 102 scaffolding 49 school-based STEM club case study 173–176 Schwab, R. G. 15 Schwartz, D. L. 152 science: as emphasized in STEM education 4–5; global trends 3; science education as focus of STEM 13; science teachers as focus of STEM education 6; scientifc literacy 32–33 Science Teachers Association of Western Australia 47 Science Teaching Leadership Programme 81 scientists, personal contact with students 82, 90 Scitech 47 Scratch or 173, 175 Seifert,A. L. 5 self-effcacy: and pre-service teachers 110, 111–112; student 116 Selkrig, M. 64 SEPS (STEM and entrepreneurship in primary school) 134–139 Shaughnessy, J. 46 Sheridan, K. M. 134 Sherriff, Barbara 8 Shute,V. 16 Siekman, G. 2–3 siloed approach 5, 101, 127 Slavit, D. 80 SLP (STEM Learning Project) 47 Smith, G. 15 Smith, Kathy 9 Sneider, C. 2 specifcity in STEM education 5 Stager, G. 133 standardized testing 3, 12, 24, 119, 124, 125–126 statistical literacy 91 STEAM 176–177 #STEAMsquad 176–179 STEM: as Australian national priority 62–63; cultural expectations 119; funding for 3, 117; interdisciplinary nature of 2–3, 4–5; overview 2–3; STEM defned 45–46; teachers’ concepts of 122; transdisciplinary approach 152–153, 164–165



STEM and entrepreneurship in primary school (SEPS) 134–139 STEM Central Project 66–76 STEM clubs: benefts of clubs 170; case study of library-based club 176–179; case study of private provider 171–173; case study of school-based club 173–176; and community needs 179–180, 184; and contextual learning 182–183, 185; and diverse learners 180–181, 184; overview 168–170; and school achievement 169; and student engagement 181–182, 185 STEM Shack 173–176 student autonomy 134 student engagement 24, 32, 109, 111, 146–147 student interactions see peer discussions Sturrack, Keryn 8 subscription service, for teachers 172 sustainability education: Fresh Water Literacies 159–164; Native Australian bees 154–159; overview 151–153; STEM and sustainability 153–154

Teaching and Learning Research Initiative 81 team teaching 109–110, 112 technological skills, of students 86–87, 90, 173–174 testing 3, 12, 119, 124, 125–126 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) 3 transdisciplinary approach 152–153, 164–165 transfer and action, as part of fve dimensions framework 17, 22–23 transparency, in STEM Central Project 72 Treaty of Waitangi 23 tuakana/teina model 86, 98n1 Tyler-Wood, T. 20 Tytler, R. 13

Tabone, Kathryn 8 Tan, E. 22 Tanis, M. 31 teacher attitudes, cross-cultural:Australia, background 117–119; focus group approach 120; India, background 117– 119; and need for professional support 126–127; STEM overview 115–117; and teacher practice 122–126; and teacher understanding 122 teacher education, pre-service see partnerships, school/university teacher-led discussion 34–35, 49–50 teachers: engagement in STEM 116; guidance during group work 38; guidance during peer discussions 34–35, 49–50; knowledge level 35–36; need for professional support 126–127; pre-service teachers 100–101, 110, 111–112; as role models 35; STEM specialists 4 Teach First 116

Vallerand, R. J. 182 Van Oers, B. 31 Vasquez, J.A. 2 video conferences 103 video data collection 49

United States: National Optical Astronomy Observatory 88; National Research Council 29, 31, 151; National Science Foundation 2; and origin of maker movement 132–134

Wager, A. 47 Watters, J. 64 Western Australia Department of Education 47 White, B. J. G. 22 Wilson, Kimberley 7 Wolfmeyer, M. R. 151 Wood, N. B. 13 Woods-McConney, Amanda 8 workforce preparation 6, 62–65, 105–106, 115–116, 147, 151 see also rich tasks Xu, Lihua 9, 143 Zwart, R. 31

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