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Nepotism Two – Spawn of Nepotism

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Remember Nepotism One? I talked to a number of teachers – who just happened to be current and retired teachers from Primary and Secondary across two states and in three kinds of school system. Now, be prepared for the sequel. I’m asking children from my family how much they know about STEAM

Ronan: Government high school, Canberra. Science teacher mother

Have you heard about STEAM as an educational concept? Or STEM?

I can’t believe you’re making me talk about school on the weekend. No. What is it?

That’s what I wanted to find out if you knew. If you had to name a subject linked to STEAM, which one would it be?

No idea. List them for me?

Ah. That would defeat the purpose.

(A quick explanation later)

Do you get any cross over between these subjects?

Not really. Only Maths in Science sometimes with things like equalising equations.

But nothing in the other subjects. Technology is an elective subject. We’re doing computer animation.

Darcey: Government primary, country Victoria. Mum’s a creative arts teacher. Dad’s Primary and head of the coding club

Have you heard about STEM or STEAM?

No.

STEAM is Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths.

Wow. I’d like to do some STEAM!

What sorts of things are you doing with … Technology?

We’re doing a program called Digital Compass, which is teaching you about cyber bullying, keeping your stuff safe on the Internet and stuff like that.

Science?

Last year we did some creative stuff, like making a baking soda volcano.

Maths?

Multiplication, Division, subtraction etc. At our school we do fluid grouping. Each teacher has a different level of students to teach and you go with the teacher who is at your level. You get taught at your level rather than being taught at a higher or lower level.

What about Art?

This week and last week we have been focusing on shading, adding white or dark and making an optical illusion.

Do you ever get any cross-over in these subjects?

Sometimes in Maths we talk about reading or English, but not that often.

Nic and Liv: Government Secondary, Townsville. Mum’s a Maths/Science teacher. Dad’s a PhD/scientist

Do you know what STEAM/STEM is?

No, we don't know what Steam is.

What are you doing in the STEM/STEAM subjects?

We are doing all of them but for technology. We have Digital Technologies, which is not assessed and only in the first two years of high school. We learn about coding and robots I guess. We also have Graphics in later years.

There are some extracurricular activities for Science. ICAS, competitions and some more.

There are a few Maths comps but I don't know what else. Maths and Science are just subjects. Art is an elective, like Graphics, for Year 9 and up.

There is an annual display for numerous artworks the spreads over a weekend. There are different paths for Art too.

What sort of cross-over is there between STEAM subjects?

My Maths teacher is also a Science teacher, so she talks about graphs and how they are different to Science. There are also some more like the example with Art and using Maths in Digi Tech for coding and measuring.

Ophelia: Government high school. Dad’s a DigiTech teacher/editor of the STEAM Report

Do you know what STEAM is?

Yes. Science, Technology, English, Art and Maths.

Wait. What? How do you know that?

I saw a poster at school.

Really? What was on the poster?

Um, I just saw the STEAM bit. It was just advertising STEAM.

So your school is doing STEAM stuff?

Yeah, they had a STEAM activity at lunch the other day – they took Spheros and covered them in paint and then created artworks by rolling the Spheros over the canvas. They do STEAM activities at lunch, but not so much in class.

That’s pretty cool. I might have to steal that idea and do a joint activity with Art Club. Who ran this one?

It was the Art Department and the DigiTech department working together.

Conclusions
Country or city, secondary or primary, government or catholic, STEAM might be a focus but it isn’t a buzz word in schools. The education department might be putting it out there and the education conferences for Maths, DigiTech and Science are definitely talking about it, but it’s not trickling down into the general population.

I was surprised to hear about the STEAM activities at my daughter’s school because again, it hasn’t been publicised through the newsletter or on Compass. But I think they have the right idea: showcase some innovative ways of linking subjects in a fun way and promote creativity along with STEM.

All of my Year 8s participate in the STEM Games competition, so I have an unfair advantage, but even here, we don’t regularly talk about STEAM. I might have to up my game in the newsletter.


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