Specialist STEM Community of Practice
A Specialist STEM Community of Practice bringing together teachers from Specialist schools in the Monash Precinct to explore STEM education approaches.
The Specialist STEM Community of Practice (CoP) brings together teachers from Glenallen School, Ashwood School and Monash Special Developmental School to share current approaches and explore new ways to approach STEM education. This ensures that STEM in Specialist schools is prioritised, personalised to students’ needs and interests and connects to real-world experiences. In 2022, the CoP worked together to create a shared understanding of what we would like to achieve and the outcomes we would like to see.
The CoP completed visits to each school to explore how they were implementing STEM in their classrooms which created many rich discussions around successes and shared issues with technologies. As a part of the Community of Practice, each school was responsible for creating a unit of work based on a current or future area of study or one that allowed students to explore new technologies and concepts to enhance their learning. Monash Tech School assisted in these units of work by providing financial and staff support to each of these schools and facilitating on-site student visits where appropriate.
The CoP culminated in all three schools implementing their units of work in the way that best suited their student’s needs.
Ashwood School’s unit of work explored different types of energy, machines and exoskeletons. Students completed some learning about energy and electricity in their own classrooms before attending MTS to explore these concepts in a hands-on way. This included using Playtronicas to experience circuits and how the human body can be used to complete a circuit and, in this case, to create sounds. Students also had the opportunity to use their own body’s electricity to control our custom-built exoskeleton arms. Their final task was to combine their knowledge to design, build and present a prototype astronaut that met a specific brief.
Glenallen School considered how to enhance student learning in their Space area of study. They created a unit of work where students explored the composition of different materials on an elemental and atomic level in addition to the properties of materials and how they affect their use. Students attended MTS and used the FTIR and XRF spectroscopy machines to examine rock and liquid samples and conduct student-led experiments on the insulative and water-proof nature of different materials. They then selected one for their own space suit and detailed their findings in their space log. Students could also test their driving skills by driving rovers from the ‘rock sample’ to the TARDIS to ensure that their space mission ended safely.
Monash Special Developmental School used the theme of colour to create a series of interactive student and teacher-led activities using different technologies. In their classrooms, students explored technologies such as Sphero Bolt, Specdrums and ClassVR, which allowed all students to experience new technologies in a developmentally appropriate way. For example, by using Sphero Bolts, students drove them through paint to match objects to the correct colour, play Simon Says or navigate around objects while following instructions.
The CoP will continue to support specialist school teachers by implementing the Community of Practice in 2023. It looks forward to increasing opportunities for specialist school students to access opportunities with Monash Tech School. This includes accessing new and emerging technologies by visiting the tech school on site, as well as participating in new programs and industry immersions.