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STEAMing up the NZ Curriculum

To watch the video of Sarah's address, click here or on the image. Download Sarah's presentation here (.pdf)

Our STEM Alliance and SouthSci manager, Dr Sarah Morgan, spoke about Encouraging a STEAM-focused curriculum in the New Zealand education sector in the opening keynote address at the inaugural STEAM Education Summit in May in Auckland.  

There is a push in schools to move away from the traditional methods of teaching to incorporating a STEAM-based learning initiative that encourages students to learn these subjects cohesively, rather than individually. It is a driving force in allowing students to future-proof their learning. 

Sarah started by coming down firmly on the side of “it doesn’t matter” which acronym is used -  she uses ‘STEM’, ‘STEAM’ and ‘Science’ interchangeably, as no learning area can exist in true isolation in the real world. Labels don’t matter, and education silos lead to reduced collaboration and communication which isn’t helpful for anyone. 

She then outlined the two main learning initiatives underlying the participatory science platform - known locally as SouthSci. They are transdisciplinary learning, and project-based learning, and Sarah highlighted how well they mesh with the New Zealand Curriculum. 

In a video insert, a brief introduction to the Participatory Science Platform was provided by the national co-ordinator, Dr Victoria Metcalf from the office of the PM's chief science advisor, along with some history of the NZ government's Curious Minds initiative.

Sarah resumed the presentation, illustrating SouthSci's curriculum links with three case studies from south Auckland - three examples of excellent SouthSci projects:

  • The Mould in Homes project was a collaboration between Rongomai School, Manurewa High School and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research.
  • The Wētā House Redesign project, which grew out of a science-focused project the year before, at Dawson School and Aorere College.
  • The Air Quality project at early childhood centres in Mangere, collaborating with NIWA and engineers from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, to develop and trial an interactive air quality measuring tool that the young students could use. 

Find out more about SouthSci on our website here.