“Full STEAM Ahead”, the catchy theme of the 2018 Mathematical Association of NSW (MANSW) Wollongong Cluster Biannual Conference, was held on Saturday 19 May at the University of Wollongong with over 100 educators in attendance.
A cross-systems collaboration between the NSW Department of Education, Catholic Education Office Wollongong and the University of Wollongong, Full STEAM Ahead featured a full day of workshops and learning experiences for teachers across all educational sectors, providing the opportunity to be involved in quality professional learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education.
STEAM education aims to enhance student learning experiences through an integrated and engaging curriculum that promotes higher order thinking and problem solving, allowing students to apply knowledge and skills across a wide range of areas.
Two keynote addresses were provided by experienced and highly regarded presenters, Professor Charles Lovitt and Mark Harrison. Professor Lovitt focused on: Four Elements to Make Productive Progress (a clear shared vision of what we value, zillions of illuminating classroom images, creative course and assessment structures and establishing an appropriate classroom culture), while Mark concentrated on: How Students Can Reach their Full Potential.
Workshops included sessions on:
- Coding in the Mathematics Classroom;
- “The Equity Lens”;
- Math Anxiety and Growth Mindset;
- Using Big Ideas in Key Learning Areas to Connect Mathematics;
- How to Incorporate STEAM into your Classroom, Integrating Mathematics, English and Gardening;
- Problem Solving in the Mathematics Classroom;
- Giving Meaning to Mathematics; and
- Cheap STEAM Education for your school (presented by CEDoW Education Officers Mark Woolley and Ben Woods).
Dulcie Ryman, Education Officer and member of the MANSW Wollongong organising team, said “We hope participants found the conference beneficial and took home many strategies and ideas to support and facilitate STEAM education within their schools. Participants were making connections with recent professional learning around Exploring the Potential of Using Challenging Mathematical Tasks regarding mindsets and the impact this can have on effective learning. We wanted workshop facilitators to be able to open the participant's eyes to innovative ways of delivering STEAM education to their students and school communities.”
Dimitra Vezinias, Acting Assistant Principal at St Paul’s, Albion Park agreed “The conference was well organised and the workshops were very informative. The guest speakers gave insight into practical and relevant activities and strategies that can be used in the class context."
"The conference secured a train of thought such as mindsets that are so relevant to our students in the modern world and have effect on our teaching practice. Further, reading and investigation on this topic was encouraged. The relevance of rich tasks linked well with Maths Challenging tasks. I noticed Lyn Sharratt work integrated into some of the workshops. The STEAM that included the Arts was interesting and will be shared with other staff. The presenters were excellent and our six staff that attended walked away enthusiastic and thoroughly enjoyed the day,” Dimitra said.
In 2008 Australian Education Ministers committed to the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. They recognised that school systems need to support the development and transference of skills through multi-disciplinary, cross curriculum education. They also recognised the need to develop within our students the ability to be critical, creative thinkers who effectively problem solve and are digitally literate. These objectives form the cornerstone of STEAM education.
Congratulations to the MANSW Wollongong Cluster organising committee, Samantha David (NSW Department of Education), Tricia Forrester (University of Wollongong) and Dulcie Ryman (CEDoW), on providing a wonderful conference.
The CEDoW STEM Strategy (2017-2019) aims to develop in staff, students and parents the awareness and importance of STEM education. It also aims to support initiatives to develop cross-disciplinary, critical and creative thinking skills, problem solving capabilities and the effective utilisation of digital technologies.