Cracking open the world of STEM one problem at a time

McAuley College, Beaudesert, students are participating in the ARC Linkage project

This week we put the National Science Week question 'How will you science?" to Dr Charlotte Pezaro, Senior Education Officer – Mathematics, Learning and Pedagogy.

Charlotte said the future of how we teach and experience the world of science will be focused on problem-based learning.

“Science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) subjects sometimes have the maligned reputation of just being about grinding through the content and remembering the formulas," said Charlotte.

“But this is far from the truth. The STEM world is an exciting part of our curriculum and offers a rich range of educational experiences for primary and secondary students," she said.

“Taking a problem-based learning approach (or PBL as teachers call it) is key to maximising the educational experience and learning by our students."

Problem-based learning uses complex, real-world issues as the classroom's subject matter, encouraging students to develop problem-solving skills and learn concepts instead of just absorbing facts.

For instance, instead of reading and studying the lifecycle of plants, students apply their knowledge to establish a school garden making scientific observations and reports on the results.

Eight Brisbane Catholic Education schools have been recruited to participate in a STEM problem-based learning research project being led by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Dr Charlotte Pezaro, Senior Education Officer – Mathematics, Learning and Pedagogy

Charlotte said this was an exciting opportunity to contribute developing more ideas on how we can best integrate problem-based learning in STEM in the classroom.

“Brisbane Catholic Education is really fortunate to be participating in ARC Linkage project helping to develop and design future models of practice for how STEM is taught in the middle-school," said Charlotte.

“Taking a problem-based learning approach helps students to develop a deeper connection and understanding of the subjects and may ultimately plant a seed for them to work in STEM sectors as a professional."

The ARC Linkage project will run over three years and is being delivere​d in partnership with the University of Queensland, Monash University, Melbourne Archdiocese of Catholic Schools and Brisbane Catholic Education.

Brisbane Catholic Education schools participating in the project are: Our Lady's College​, Annerley; McAuley College, Beaudesert; Good Samaritan Catholic College, Bli Bli; St Columban's College, Caboolture; San Sisto College, Carina; St Ita's Primary School, Dutton Park; and Assisi Catholic College, Upper Coomera.

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