Sustainability meets Statistics and STEM is a research project brought to you by the University of Newcastle and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET) and is funded through the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) – National Priority Fund 2016.
The aim of this project is to assist primary and secondary school students, and their teachers, in low socioeconomic status (SES), remote and rural regions to connect with, aspire to, access and succeed in higher education, through an activity targeting and addressing barriers to higher education, namely an understanding of science and statistics.
The initiative combines the successful National Schools Poster Competition and Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival – Mini EV Prize and in addition to some school visits, we will be hosting a NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA) -endorsed workshop for teachers (in each of Dubbo, Griffith and Broken Hill) to hear about and discuss authentic learning activities surrounding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Statistics and Environmental Sustainability.
The national competition involves a project-based learning activity where teams of 2 to 5 students undertake an investigation on any topic or area of their determining, collect and report upon data and produce a poster presentation outlining their investigation and outcomes. This project will focus student investigations around topics in Environmental Science and Sustainability as an example, although they may still choose to investigate any other topic of their own creation.
Nationally, teachers welcome mentors associated with the national competitions to attend their school and/or class to assist them to understand and deliver the activity. Mentors are often less available in remote and rural regions. The DET’s HEPPP-funded project thus supports the Chief Investigators (CIs) attendance to address such inequity.
Project CIs will travel to three locations (Dubbo, Broken Hill, and Griffith). At each location, a NESA-endorsed workshop for teachers will be held (in a local community hall/RSL club) where teachers will hear about and discuss authentic learning activities surrounding STEM, Statistics and Environmental Sustainability. They will learn about the project-based learning activity surrounding the national competition, in particular its application within Environmental Science and Sustainability.
Details of the project stages are provided in a process flow diagram.
– A/Prof Peter Howley: Chair of Statistical Education, Statistical Society of Australia; Coordinator of the National Schools Poster Competition; and Recipient of National Office for Learning and Teaching Citation for Contributions to Teaching, 2015
– Professor Tim Roberts: Director of Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle; Coordinator of the Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival; creator of hands-on science centre, Supernova, in Newcastle
– A/Prof Maree Gruppetta: Indigenous Education and Research, The Wollotuka Institute; Head of Umulliko Indigenous Higher Education Centre and A/Prof Research and Research Engagement. University of Newcastle
– Latha Lewis: Project Officer, The Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle