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SHELDON DELIVERS “OUT OF THIS WORLD” STEAM LEARNING
Imagine investigating whether life could be sustained on Mars by exploring a “virtual” recreation of the red planet’s environment. That was the learning challenge faced by Year 5 students at Sheldon College, located in Redland City, during their dedicated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) unit in Term 1, 2018.
The Prep to Year 12 co-educational school partnered with Mars Lab at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum to deliver the STEAM unit which was developed by Year 5 Science teachers in partnership with the school’s senior curriculum leaders. During the unit students took part in a video-conference briefing from experts who took them on a virtual tour of the Mars environment which has been recreated at the museum. In their classrooms students then used a specially designed Mars yard mapping program to explore the planet terrain, its different rock types and to search for evidence of life.
In a separate STEAM project, Year 7 Sheldon College students were tasked with exploring the issue of energy poverty across the world. As part of their studies students were required to design and manufacture sustainable solar panel lights. The completed products were then showcased and sold at a school trade fair, with the proceeds going to their partner organisation Pollinate Energy - a social enterprise which creates sustainable essential products for people living in poverty in India.
These two units illustrate the type of STEAM projects students in Years 1-7 at Sheldon College are exposed to each year as part of the school’s core curriculum. But students aren’t the only beneficiaries of this approach. Teaching staff are also enhancing their own STEAM knowledge and skills as they research and design the units of work under the guidance of the school’s senior curriculum leaders.
“Student engagement with the STEAM projects is incredibly high with learning extending beyond the classroom. Outside project time students continue to think about their tasks, sending questions to their teachers via email and brainstorming with their peers.”
- Vanessa Noonan, Head of Digital Pedagogy and Innovation