John Paul College Frankston hosted this year’s It Takes a Spark Grok Academy STEM Conference on Friday 17th November.
This year’s theme was ‘Multiverse of STEM’, referencing the multidisciplinary and intersecting elements of STEM and reminding participants that STEM learning is for everyone. The conference brought primary and secondary schools together from across Victoria, allowing students and teachers to share their STEM projects and ideas, hear talks from leaders in STEM, participate in workshops, and solve social justice design challenges.
Keynote speakers were Superstars of STEM, Dr Elahe Abdi, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Robotics expert and educator and Paula Wasiak, Senior Research Officer at Phillip Island Nature Parks. Workshops covered topics including dark matter, rapid prototyping, space design, using AI for good, railway signalling, the future of food, LEGO algorithmics, designing for disabilities, and art in STEM.
During the Problem Solvers Design Challenges students were given a real life problem to solve using the design process, working collaboratively with other students. Challenges included creating sustainably powered vehicles, building a socially responsible digital future, and solving a disease outbreak. Participants could also explore the STEM Expo and enjoy the interactive displays.
Teachers were inspired as they networked with other teachers and industry leaders, and participated in master classes and workshops. “I came away from the conference with so many ideas to incorporate into our curriculum and new ways to get students excited about STEM,” Ms Smith said. “STEM subjects involve both the analytical and creative parts of our brain so they are vital for every student to develop the problem solving skills they will need in the real world.”
John Paul College promotes STEM learning through its curriculum, events and initiatives including STEM Week for Year 7 and 8 students and the STEAM subject available at Year 9.