An effective primary school STEM program should …

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After lots of research, I identified that an effective primary school STEM program should address the following points. A STEM program should:

  • Use an explicit learning model (this could be the 5 E’s model as used by Primary Connections and EngQuest resources or the ‘Experience, Share, Process, Generalise, Apply’ model developed by Barker and Ansorge (2007));
  • Students should have plenty of opportunity to fail – to facilitate opportunities to develop a growth mindset;
  • Encourage curiosity;
  • Always include a literacy aspect (include activities such as argumentation and analysis of scientific texts);
  • Incorporate external partnerships – it provides real world contexts for activities and increases student engagement;
  • Use open ended challenges (it results in more student ownership and therefore engagement in learning);
  • Target under represented students (i.e. inspire more girls to be engineers); and
  • Focus on a small number of skills – to maximise the likelihood of students transferring them between subject areas.

Note that this list does not specify activities (i.e. programming robots, sewing or 3D printing). They can be slotted in – depending on the interests of the teacher running a STEM program, the students interests, the priorities of the school principal and board and the resources you have access to.