'Altitude' STEAM program

Full STEAM ahead at John Paul College. Rehoming bushfire-affected wildlife is just one way students at John Paul College are applying what they are learning to real life problems. The wildlife project originated from ‘Altitude’ - a new student-driven program where pupils years 7-10 develop practical problem solving skills in STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

After brainstorming issues that were important to them, this semester’s Altitude students selected sustainability. Saddened that the homes of many local native species including possums, bats and birds were destroyed in the recent bushfires, they have decided to make a difference by designing and building nest boxes. The research and design process will include deciding on a suitable colour, style, shape, and size for the different animals that may use them. Then they will build the boxes from scratch using laser cutting equipment and other tools.

“The Altitude program gives our students a practical outlet for their learning, better preparing them for the real world and their future careers,” said John Visentin, Principal of John Paul College. “It allows students to use lateral thinking and problem-solving skills to work on issues that they see in the community and on a global scale.”

Students participating in the program are given the freedom to choose projects based on their interests and talents, and explore ideas to a greater depth than is possible in other school settings. 

“When students drive their own learning they are more engaged and develop the ability to think creatively, work independently, and collaborate with their peers,” said Mr Visentin.

The program will also provide students with the opportunity to learn about emerging technologies that may shape their future careers. With technological innovations changing everyday life, STEM-related occupations are growing significantly faster than non-STEM jobs (Department of Education, Skills & Employment, 2019). In addition to being in demand, STEM graduates also have higher starting salaries than the national average (Good Education Group, 2016). 

Mr Visentin is confident that the Altitude program will benefit students wherever their future studies take them. 

“Whatever career path they pursue, the problem-solving skills and creativity cultivated through the program will help them make a positive contribution to their chosen field.”