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Putting ideas into practice

A GROUP of students from grades three to six at Howrah Primary School has been involved in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning program during term three.

STEM incorporates the use of hands on learning as an effective technique and approach to inquiry.

It is a way of engaging learners in a ‘design-make-appraise’ cycle, similar to how real engineers work.

Students were required to apply to be part of the STEM program.

Their applications needed to address either an authentic problem that they identified in their community, or to improve or rectify a technology-based situation.

Student applications reflected innovative thinking and a concern for environmental issues and ideas.

From a large number of applications, 26 students were selected to participate in the program.

Some of the participants included Emilia, from year four, who designed and made a finger guard to prevent children cutting themselves when they are preparing food.

Year four student Billy, a budding zoologist concerned with native animal welfare, created a model of a trap that does not harm the animal.

Community-minded year six student Oenone designed and created a digital support file that provides vital transport, legal and community access information for overseas visitors to Hobart.

After a recent visit to the Great Barrier Reef, Avalon, from year six, designed and built a model solar powered boat that could minimise the impact of human activity on the reef.

Year four student Rita said her experience with STEM was important because it gave her skills for later in life.

“I learn a lot of stuff at school, but I don’t always get to find out whether what I am learning about is going to work out or not,” she said.

“That is the great thing about STEM – I actually get to put my ideas into practice so that I can see if they are successful or not.”

Harriet, year four, said STEM taught her more about engineering in practice.

“STEM is great because it helps me learn more about engineering,” she said.

“It’s the actual building that helps me understand the requirements of engineering and it’s cool to be involved in hands-on learning.”

The STEM program at Howrah Primary continues to be successful and worthwhile to students.

Caption: Howrah Primary School students Maggie, pictured left, on the drill and Lucas taking some measurements as part of the STEM program.