Survival on Everest: Example of Upper Primary STEM Unit
We launched this PBL unit, with an introductory video and range of activities including replicating crossing a crevasse on an aluminium ladder. Students conducted a science practical investigating the impact of carrying a pack and climbing at high altitudes, with a lack of oxygen, has on their heart rate, respiratory rate and the amount of oxygen in their blood.
The major STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) exploration involved designing the strongest bridge made from 5 aluminium ladders for crossing a crevasse in the Khumba Ice Fall.
Whilst this integrated unit has a strong STEM focus, students also learnt about content from other Australian curriculum areas including English, Geography, History and Outdoor Education.
The project’s driving question, which focused our work, is “How can I use the personal experiences, skills and knowledge gained in this unit to help me write a fictional story about my own ascent of Everest, that is of a standard that can be professionally published?”
Students participated in other real life experiences outside the classroom including the opportunity to ‘summit’ by climbing Mt Lofty plus a chance to experience rock climbing.
Survival on Everest
STEM and Enterprise - A National Priority
Excerpt from DECD Public Education Action Plan (published Oct 2017)
“Our education system will prepare students for South Australia’s jobs of tomorrow.”
Today’s children and young people will live in a very different world from the one our parents experienced. There will be new jobs that we can’t even imagine yet and existing professions will change dramatically.
As traditional industries decline and new ones emerge, young people will need to have flexible, adaptable and global mindsets to take advantage of jobs and business opportunities. Our young people will need to be creative, versatile and skilled communicators, especially with international trading partners.
Three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require STEM skills and knowledge as well as enterprise skills like problem solving, creative thinking and critical analysis.
What does this look like at Woodside Primary School?
One of the major new curriculum initiatives this over this past year has been the introduction of integrated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) units of work.
This involves students solving real problems and using skills from each of these four disciplines simultaneously. The feedback from students has been extremely positive, reporting that they are finding this work engaging, relevant and challenging. Many of these units are using a ‘Project Based Learning’ approach to also integrate other learning areas into the program. Examples include ‘Survival on Everest’ unit with Upper Primaries, Zootopia with Middle Primaries and the Woodside Pageant Float project with younger students.
We have also invested in a large range of technical equipment to complement this work including 3D printers, robotics and electronics which are being used in all classes from R-7.
We have also investigated how to further include enterprise education in our curriculum as we believe that STEM and Entrepreneurship should go hand in hand. We have offered our Year 4 - 7s the opportunity to be involved in a National program called ‘The Kidpreneur Challenge’ and 150 of our students have participated.
This involves teams of students generating ideas for an innovative product, and then learning how to start their own business where they develop this product. Students participate at every stage of the business including pitching the idea, making and reviewing a prototype, applying for a start-up loan, marketing the product, producing multiple copies in a ’production line. We then ran a market day/night where all forty-seven business sold their products to ‘real’ customers. Following the market day, each team reviews their sales and costs to calculate their profit or loss. Every one of the forty-seven businesses made a profit. Collectively the businesses raised over $2,000. Some of this was donated to charity with the rest re-invested into future school enterprise activities.
Nine of the businesses entered the National competition by recording a video detailing their product development, highlighting their profit calculations and most importantly explaining what they have learnt throughout the process. Two of our teams, Pillow Perfect (Alice, Claudia and Isabella) and EJ Butterfly Cases (Brooke, Rylee and Mikaela) were judged as State winners. Individually the students received $100 worth of Moose toys and a Yoobi stationery pack; a winners T-shirt plus $25 gift voucher and a mentor to continue their entrepreneurial journey). Our school also receives prizes including 150 free entries into next year's competition and 2 Lenovo 16GB tablets.
Other classes also incorporate various enterprising activities on varying scales and different contexts.
Making the Butterfly Garden
In Science, Room 4, year 2/3 students studied what was needed to attract butterflies to a garden. After collecting data on the species of plants in the school garden, they researched facts about butterflies, including what they need to survive. In art/craft they created a butterfly garden made of scrunched tissue and crepe paper to represent small bushes and flowers; they designed and 3D printed butterflies, trees, flowers, frogs and mushrooms to put on the garden. Their work was presented at an assembly.
STEM Pageant Float
This year Room 4, 2/3 class worked with Room 8, 5/6 class on a STEM project to design and make a prototype of a float that depicted an aspect of Adelaide Hills culture. All students were in mixed age groups and were taken through the STEM process to complete the task. Each group member had to show willingness to participate by actively doing tasks and contributing to any discussions and recording of their learning. All floats needed to have one 3D modeled and printed object.