The Junior School STEM Program
In the Walford Junior School, we foster children’s inquiry through the Primary Years Programme.
The STEM program allows for the transdisciplinary integration of units of inquiry into a range of subject areas both classroom and specialist based. Research recently published by AISSA (2018) found that integrating the Digital Technologies subject intentionally into other learning areas promotes critical and creative thinking and deeper learning.
Currently, in Year 2, students have been inquiring into how different forces can affect how objects move or change shape. Within this unit of inquiry, the girls have developed and created their own classroom doll’s house, along with the help of their classroom teachers, Jade Stoyanoff and Leannne Brook. These dolls’ houses have inbuilt mechanisms that demonstrate the principles of force learnt throughout the unit.
During STEM time, the girls have been developing their digital technologies skills by using computer-aided design (CAD) software program TinkerCAD. This program is similar to the CAD programs used by architects, engineers and artists to create precision drawings that can then be used to create three-dimensional models. During lessons, girls have explored mathematical concepts of shape and measurement and used this technology to create their own 3D printed person, measured to scale to live in their doll’s house. They have also used the amazing expertise of Andre Tassone, a class parent who has helped us develop these further with his outstanding knowledge of this style of computer programming.
The Junior School STEAM room is equipped with an Ultimaker 3D Printer. By using this printer, the girls have loved seeing their creations realised. The Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) president Martin Levins described the importance of developing skills in 3D printing as imperative to prepare students for a tech-focused future. The use of this technology with the Year 2’s has opened up their understanding of this concept and brought about a new awareness of the technology that is currently transforming a wide variety of industries.