An education in science is highly desirable for pupils at all levels in primary and secondary school, regardless of the vocation that they eventually choose. Scientific method – the testing of ideas with evidence – is an indispensable aid to decision-making in business, government and civil society, even if their practitioners never set foot in a laboratory. In the mid-2010s, the Royal Society of Queensland has been collaborating with the Chief Scientist of Queensland and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) to strengthen science education in Queensland.
Funding for the Queensland STEM Education Network expired at the end of March 2018. At this time the website remains alive, with a number of valuable resources including posters and a glossary of terms. QSEN is (or has been) a consortium of Queensland universities providing a range of high quality programs and initiatives designed to build STEM capacity across the State. A statement of objectives and outcomes has been furnished by former Coordinator and Member of the Society Kay Lembo (k.lembo AT griffith.edu.au).
Arising from a brainstorming session held in July 2015, the three partners initiated development of a web portal to offer access to a range of authoritative materials and programs in science education in Queensland. This portal was to be differentiated from a plain Internet search engine or the national educators’ site Scootle in that the materials would be arranged within a coherent pedagogical framework and checked for consistency with the national curriculum. A STEM Education Portal Reference Group was established, but development was subsequently transferred to the Office of the Chief Scientist of Australia who saw the benefit of the taking the project national.
The STAR portal went live late in June 2017.
The workshop on 28 July 2015 was sponsored by the Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) whose support is gratefully acknowledged. The workshop was conceived after reviewing a mapping exercise conducted by the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist. Their website references a wide range of STEM activities and resources, including the list of mapped projects.
We have been delighted to have the support of Education Queensland, Catholic and Independent Schools, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority and QUT.
STEM EDUCATION BRAINSTORM 28 JULY 2015
We invited those identified as Queensland-based project leaders and opinion leaders to join in a workshop to present the findings of their own STEM activity or experience; and to discuss the implications for STEM education generally in Queensland. The primary tangible outcome was the web portal, as well as the publication of thoughtful presentations that all participants and the wider education community can use in their own policy and advocacy.
TEACHER PREPARATION BRAINSTORM ON 17 NOVEMBER 2016
A workshop was convened on 17 November 2016 with the venue again sponsored by QUT. It focused on the preparation that undergraduates in education faculties receive for inspiring their future students about science, including for conducting excursions outdoors. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A summary of the presentations by the speakers is now available.
Discussion and supporting presentations
Lauren Stephenson of the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist briefed the meeting on progress on the web portal (see above for background).
The Queensland Department of Education pays more than $90 million per annum to third parties for the rights to use copyrighted material in educational materials. To minimise this cost to the education budget, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority encourages authors and others who generate material to grant access to their work using Creative Commons attribution. A briefing note explaining Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources is re-published here with CC permission.