From chalkboards and inkwells, to overhead projectors, photocopiers, and beyond, the tools of the classroom have always been in flux. But these days, technology plays an even more essential role than ever before.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills are becoming increasingly important across a wide range of disciplines. Therefore, it is important that our students have the opportunity to engage in STEM in the early years.
The demand for STEM skills has led to a shake-up in the nature of education at all levels. From the inner-city schools in Australia's capital cities to the regional towns across the country, classes are engaging in STEM through the use of the latest technology, with the help of partners such as Samsung Electronics Australia.
Connecting kids… and the rest of Australia
Since 2017, Samsung Electronics Australia has been working with Social Ventures Australia (SVA) to add a STEM Learning Hub element to the Bright Spots Schools Connection -- the Connection.
The Connection brings together highly experienced educators and emerging leaders right across Australia to 42 schools. Samsung and SVA have worked together to bring STEM expertise and support to 15 schools across NSW, Victoria, and South Australia, all in communities where those resources are needed most. Since the commencement of the STEM Learning Hub, more than over 21,000 students and 2,000 teachers have benefitted from the program.
The Samsung technology used by the Learning Hub schools help connect rural schools together to enable their students to have a broader learning experience, facilitating experiences that would otherwise not be possible for students in rural settings. It's allowing teachers to embed technology into their classrooms to redefine learning.
"Technology is a tool that enhances learning and enables the development of 21st century skills," says Josh Grace, CMO of Samsung Electronics Australia. "It is essential that students and teachers are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to take advantage of the opportunities made available by new technologies in a constantly evolving workplace."
Aleesha Renshaw is in year 5 at Mount Burr. She says that her STEM classes are something she looks forward to each day and she "can't wait" to see what happens as she heads into high school.
"It's something new every time, says Aleesha. "We're doing different challenges and getting to try brand new technology and find new ways to use them as well."
It's given Aleesha a broad look at how STEM skills work across careers.
"If I was a teacher, I could be using this to teach people anything they wanted to do."
Teaching the teachers
Teachers of today need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology to ensure students are getting the right skills for the jobs of the future. This puts a lot of pressure on teachers, so travelling programs like the Smart Skills workshops from Samsung and Questacon can make life a little easier by demonstrating creative and engaging ways to integrate tech into the classroom.
In addition to its partnership with SVA, Samsung is also the Technology Partner of Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. Through this partnership, Samsung provides STEM-themed learning opportunities for young Australians via the Questacon Smart Skills in-school program for students, Questacon Smart Skills Teacher Workshops and showcasing the latest Samsung technology in the Questacon Centre in Canberra.
For teachers, the Smart Skills student and teacher workshops complement each other, demonstrating novel and effective ways of engaging their classes with Samsung technologies in a hands-on design activity. Teachers then experience a design-thinking workshop for themselves and are challenged to collaborate with other local educators to create lasting change in the way schools design their own STEM learning experiences.
Using Samsung products in creative and imaginative ways adds value to the Smart Skills workshops by building confidence in both students and teachers to use technology throughout the process of designing and prototyping solutions to problems.
Lisa Scott teaches at Mount Burr Primary School and she's justifiably proud of the learning environment her and her fellow staff have crafted for their students with the help of Samsung.
"We're a lead stem school in our state," Scott says. "People come to learn about the stem experience we give our students
It's imperative that our kids have the opportunity to learn with technology and it's equally essential that they can connect that the curriculum experiences they're having now with what it might mean for a future career."
The Home Front
Even before they're in the workforce, students have the opportunity to use these STEM skills to make a difference at home -- a STEM educated child can bring home this powerful knowledge and share it with family.
Romana Quintal is the mother of Tessa, a student at Mount Burr. Tessa has learning needs that are different to others in her class. Romana says that access to the STEM Learning Hub has been highly beneficial for Tessa.
"It's not only helped her confidence with technology it's even changed her language about technology," she says.
"She comes home and talk to us about her One to One device and what that means to her. She can log on to her google account and share work with her teacher or show me what's she been working on."
The access to STEM skills has had a profound effect on Tessa's interaction at home.
"It's helped her Communicate to us what she's been doing at school which, because of her learning needs, has been quite difficult in the past.
"This means her father and I work with her, we can revisit things that she's done in class, and she can explain it to us, show us her work, demonstrate her new skills.
Romana says it's even helped her get a better understanding of where Tessa is at with her literacy and her digital literacy skills.
Tristan Fivas, a student from Townsville attended Smart Skills Workshop Tour in 2018. He said, "It was really inspiring to learn from the Smart Skills workshop at school as they displayed and taught us about aerodynamics and Makey Makeys. They had introduced drag and drop coding to many students and circuitry. This was not like any ordinary workshop.
Tristan was also involved in the 2019 Invention Convention which is run at Questacon annually. "Samsung had provided fast and reliable tablets that we could save our drawings on, and plan easily. This had allowed me to develop Sprizzy, an automated sprinkler that cools downs pets when the temperature reaches over forty degrees. Questacon and Samsung have helped me to bring my ideas into reality."