Rotary Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program (1)

Tags: Rotary Club. Queensland. Bribie Island. Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program

The Rotary Club of Bribie Island has received a Rotary District Grant to assist with the training of teachers at the three Island schools and St Michael’s College, Caboolture. Rotary District grants are used to fund small-scale, short-term activities that address needs in local communities and communities abroad. Clubs apply to their District for funding by completing an application form and each district chooses which activities it will fund with these grants.

Featured Image(above): Lucy, Emily, Lucy and Emma-Leigh BISHS science students who developed a device for capturing floating garbage. With Counsellor Brooke Savige and Mayor Sutherland who is holding the device

Congratulations to immediate past President John Oxenford who completed the 16-page application form! A mean feat all by itself. The funding will allow us to engage the services of ‘Coding Kids’ a Brisbane based organisation ‘passionate about shaping the next generation of innovators, creators, and change-makers.’ Coding Kids will provide a series of professional development workshops for staff responsible for the delivery of the Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program.

Rotary Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program (1)

Oliver, Lucas, Toby, and Alexander from BISHS using the Makey Makey device to play Pac-Man on a laptop using Playdoh as the controller

By providing this funding we will support the ongoing STEM Challenge program at Bribie Island State High School (BISHS) and its goal of raising STEM literacy for all students. The funding will help build a team of STEM-capable teachers and thus increase the use of STEM technologies within curriculum units. The training will allow the teachers to make better use of STEM-related equipment which is presently underutilised. With trained confident teachers, interest in STEM-related subjects within BISHS and the other schools associated with the STEM Challenge will continue to grow.

Students learn coding, programming and game, and website development. The knowledge they develop through these studies will give them the IT skills required for future employment. Both the Queensland Government and the Australian Government recognise that STEM proficiency is vital to ensuring the country’s economic wellbeing. ‘The Australian Government regards high-quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is critically important for our current and future productivity, as well as for informed personal decision making and effective community, national and global citizenship’.

A recent report from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) emphasised the importance of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and said ‘One in two jobs in Australia will require high-level programming and IT skills within 15 years.’ It also suggested that ‘within the next two to five years 90 percent of the workforce would need IT proficiency to stand any chance of landing a new job.’ So, STEM isn’t just a thing for students in classrooms, it has become important not only to job seekers but to everyone as we develop into a more technological and innovation dependent world.

A world where information and knowledge flows and is shared like never before. Notwithstanding STEM, however, as a student of the humanities, I have to ask that studies of this equally important field not be overlooked to advance our understanding of STEM. The question of morals and ethics must also play a role with STEM. The debate has gone on for thousands of years regarding moral and ethical behaviour – from the times of Socrates and Plato 2,500 years ago through Immanuel Kant, who 300 years ago asked ‘What can we know?’ and answered that our knowledge is constrained to mathematics and the science of the natural, actual world, – to today.

Rotary Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program (1)‘Morality’ generally relates to how we might live our life; while ‘ethics’ tends to refer to the codes of conduct governing social interactions. Morals, ethics, and law overlap, to a degree, and help instruct how our lives are lived today. Richard Lachman from Ryerson University, perhaps said it best in his article in ‘The Conversation’, ‘I believe we need our educational system to engage students with issues of ethics and responsibility in science and technology. We should treat required arts and humanities courses not as some vague attempt to “broaden minds” but rather as a necessary discussion of morals, values, ethics, and responsibility’.

As part of its ongoing commitment to STEM, Bribie Rotary sent Alexis Thomas from BISHS to Canberra in January 2019 to attend the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF). Ema Machan has been nominated to attend NYSF in 2020 and we will continue to seek participants for 2021 and ongoing years.

Thus, Bribie Rotary’s assistance to our schools, teachers, and students, becomes a much broader approach to their overall education. Remember, all Briberians who help and/ or contribute – from buying a sausage sandwich at our Market Van to coming along to a function (e.g. Movie, Trivia or Scrabble nights) – help us in our vital work.

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