Over 70 Australian teachers have come together in Canberra this week to take part in a professional learning program that will bring their students into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge.
Held from 6-11 January, the STEM X Academy is a five-day residential professional learning program for teachers of science, developed by Questacon, the National Science and Technology Center, Australia's national science agency CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) to address the national needs for improving teacher and student STEM skills and content knowledge.
"No one leaves the STEM X Academy without being changed," said Jared Wilkins, Questacon's senior manager of learning. "The participants are challenged to be hands-on, as they learn by doing and then use their new knowledge and skills to make exciting new lessons."
The program helps teachers acquire the skills and the ability to design, develop and implement their own learning resources. STEM X Academy partners teachers with skilled educators from Questacon and CSIRO, and expert researchers to collaborate on projects in five days, fostering relationships between teachers, schools and industry.
Mary Mulcahy, education director at CSIRO, said partnering teachers with scientists and STEM Education experts will be able to better understand and develop the teaching tools.
"This experience will assist teachers to equip their students with the critical skill-sets needed to tackle the challenges," Mulcahy said.
Teachers have been selected from every state and territory, with some teachers coming from rural and remote schools.
The program brings together both experienced and early career teachers creating a national professional network that endures.
"The Australian Science Teachers Association sees the provision of high-quality professional learning as an essential ingredient to the continuing development of teachers," said ASTA President, Geoff Quinton.
"The fact that the STEM X Academy received over 300 applications for only 70 places, to demonstrate not only the high regard for CSIRO, Questacon and ASTA programs but also the willingness of teachers to give up their personal time to improve their practice. "