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ERIC Number: EJ1231801
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1557-5284
Enlightening STEM Engagement during High School -- Make It Real Banana Peel
Scott-Parker, B.; Barone-Nugent, E.
Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, v20 n1 p5-10 Apr-Sep 2019
Global progress has arisen from scientific advances and we currently live in the age of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); science as a way of increasing the knowledge base, technology as a means of manifesting the science, engineering as a way of building and creating with it, and mathematics to devise the language we use for science to explore new realities. Strengthening science-related economies requires more students to pursue STEM subjects which means that we need to retain them early in the education pipeline in order to strengthen knowledge-based communities and nations' economic growth. In Australia, however, there is a trend of more occupations requiring STEM skills while there is a declining interest in studying STEM subjects at secondary school. The disengagement of students from STEM subjects is most notable amongst girls towards the physical sciences such as physics and mathematics. When girls are considering life pathways at high school they generally view STEM subjects as difficult, leading to career pathways that are not aligned to their interests. With the exception of biology girls do not deem STEM subjects as relevant to improving the human condition. Moreover, the STEM subjects are not viewed as interconnected and contributing to areas of knowledge that impact our lives. To increase the accessibility of STEM subjects and STEM careers to enable students and unblock the pipeline into the work sector we need to rationalise how the STEM areas work together and impacts the fabric of life beyond the knowledge silos. In addition, as educators we need to show young people how STEM skills and learnings are integrated into areas such as psychology, economics, computing, and data science. In this paper we describe how a pilot of the "Growing Tall Poppies STEM" program (GTP) has enabled female high school students and (largely) female scientists at the University of the Sunshine Coast to explore the interdigitated nature of STEM subjects and psychology to support the understanding of how STEM skills are important, relevant, and life changing. By way of background, the GTP program framework was developed to encourage secondary students, particularly girls, to choose to study STEM subjects in their final years of secondary school by demonstrating (a) the relevance of these subjects to their everyday lives, (b) that girls are capable of STEM-related academic success, (c) that STEM subjects are career-empowering, by (d) providing examples that debunk the stereotypic expectations of female students and employees. This pilot project highlighted how the STEM skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation can be used "beyond" traditional STEM disciplines such as psychology. In this regard, a group of four Year 10 girls were immersed in an applied social psychology laboratory in 2016 to participate in a genuine research investigation, and students were given autonomy to contribute and take charge of their own project question. Thus the girls experienced firsthand the interdisciplinary nature of STEM disciplines, and in this way STEM learnings were related to a broader range of applications and career paths for these students. While this pilot was the first university-high school GTP collaboration, pleasingly this group of students advised that they felt inspired to continue in their study of STEM subjects on their return to school, and indicated that they were more inclined to choose STEM subjects beyond Year 10.
Institute for STEM Education and Research. P.O. Box 4001, Auburn, AL 36831. Tel: 334-844-3360; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia