The changing face of science education
Helen Silvester on science education
Science education has significantly changed in Australia in the last 20 years. Prior to 2000, science education was focused on providing explanations for the scientific phenomena that students might observe in their everyday life. Students were considered high ability if they could identify the key concepts and apply them to an alternative environment.
The national introduction of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) has provided a new approach to science education. The sciences concepts have become reframed and future focused. They are manipulated and applied to benefit individuals and groups in society.
The STEAM process does not aim to teach the science concepts. Instead, this pedagogy is used to increase a student’s understanding of the science concepts in the classroom or as a cross-curricular approach. This is the focus of OUP’s new STEAM projects that will soon to be available in the Australian market for Years 7 to 10. These STEAM programs use the skills and knowledge of science, mathematics, and the arts to engineer technological solutions to real-world problems.
Most importantly, STEAM students develop a set of transferrable skills with a framework that can be applied to the problems in the future. Working in groups, students need to negotiate the complexities of social interactions and differences of opinion. Projects are managed as they learn to develop and test ideas and communicate their discoveries.
STEAM teachers model critical thinking, teach students to be creative (it can be taught) and let them fail so they can learn to try again. If this sounds familiar, it is because these are the skills of life. These are the skills that employers of the future will seek when the dirty, dangerous, and dull jobs are done by robots. By the time our students finish their schooling, they will think flexibly, critically, and creatively. They will understand the ethical consequences of their decisions and have confidence to turn thought into considered action. They will be true independent thinkers.
Our STEAM students will be ready for their, and our future.