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Why STEM Matters

From rat dissections to sending yoghurt into space, STEM studies are never boring…

NEWS 28 Feb 2022

A group of Haileybury Science students recently saw the yoghurt cultures they’d created in a school laboratory head to the International Space Station (ISS). The yoghurt cultures arrived at the ISS via a SpaceX rocket launched from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and are part of the School’s SHINE Space Program.

The Program is a collaboration with Swinburne University and gives students an opportunity to design scientific experiments for space. This latest experiment will study the effects of microgravity on bacteria and it’s just one of many exciting and challenging STEM-related activities that happen at Haileybury throughout the year.

A fortnightly newsletter prepared by the STEM Captains and Vice Captains is sent to all Senior School students and can include everything from maths riddles and upcoming STEM events to details about award-winning science students and an at-home science experiment – this month the experiment is how to unlock the secrets of leaf chromatography. A dedicated STEM student committee meets each month to plan and run exciting new STEM events for students.

Government and industry have a firm focus on encouraging students to explore the opportunities that come with studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The State Government’s STEM Agenda 2021 report notes that ‘the problems we face as individuals and as a society require ever-increasing levels of scientific, technological and mathematical literacy’.

From developing new products and industries and ensuring innovations in health care to better managing natural resources and creating new responses to the challenges of climate change, Australia needs to deepen its STEM expertise to achieve these outcomes.

This process begins in schools.

“STEM is important as it reinforces the skills and capabilities that ensure students are future-ready—skills like critical thinking, digital acumen, problem-solving and many more,” says Jordyn Exner, Haileybury Head of Senior School STEM.

“Through the development of solutions, students can channel their creativity while brainstorming answers to problems—a process that can bring out the newest and most innovative ideas yet.”

Patrick Mete, Haileybury Deputy Head of Middle School Mathematics agrees that STEM gives students in-demand skills. He adds that 75 percent of the fastest growing employment opportunities require significant science or mathematics training.

“As the cornerstone of STEM, Mathematics equips people with the language and means to model new scientific discoveries, to build new technologies and to connect ideas from different areas of study,” he says.

“The development of fundamental mathematics skills is key to success in STEM from a young age. Once those core mathematics skills have been learned, their integration with technology is a natural progression.

“STEM literacy can be used in every facet of society, from the creative arts to improved organisational decision-making. Young people should be creative, limit-test their ideas and be entrepreneurial in their pursuits of a greater good for themselves and their community.”

Hear what some of our Haileybury students think about STEM and the STEM curriculum

Kloe Lashkariov-Lee, STEM Captain

“I enjoy the innovation, problem-solving and creativity. STEM subjects have exposed me to so many different ways of thinking—it’s incredible to expand the way in which you look at the world. STEM studies change how you perceive issues and I love the ability to experiment in a variety of ways just to tackle one problem.

A stand-out project was helping to innovate a new shoe system. I used code to help change the elevation of a shoe dependent on weight distribution to help stroke patients—inspired by my grandma’s experience of strokes which have severely reduced her balance.”

Hivin Silva, STEM Captain

“I absolutely enjoyed Biology last year because it was interesting to learn about what makes up our body and how there are so many things happening simultaneously inside us. Learning about viruses during the COVID-19 outbreak was also amazing because we learned the way in which viruses work and how vaccines help us. I hope to study Biomedicine because I think it’s super cool to invent medicines and save lives.

I’ve done a rat dissection for the first time and I was also part of the SHINE Space Program. I encourage all students to have a go in a STEM event because you might find something that interests you and it could be a great segue into a future occupation and provide you with important life skills. Don’t be scared to try new things!”

Download your copy of the Senior School STEM at-home experiment from the latest STEM Newsletter below.