STEM vs STEAM and now Loreto College presents STREAM

We are all familiar with the success and popularity of STEM education; enhancing students’ skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Following further analysis, educators more recently added an ‘A’ for Art, to inspire creative thinking, powering STEAM.

Now, one of Brisbane’s premier independent girl’s schools, Loreto College, has revolutionised these teaching and learning philosophies by launching their own development… STREAM.

By adding an ‘R’ for research, the acronym STREAM propels this revolutionary teaching and learning technique to an entirely new level; unlocking creativity and incorporating planning to encourage students to explore an inventive and artistic approach to STEM applications.

Loreto College Principal, Mrs Cheryl Hamilton said, “These days were designed to inspire and challenge the students through an intensive process of collaborative project design and development. The research aspect is of course a very significant aspect in any worthwhile project and the Art (and Aesthetics) adds essential appeal and interest.”

This week, Year 8 students at Loreto College have been involved in an intensive two day STREAM workshop. The cross-curricula enrichment project challenged students with the task of creating a ‘Green Bridge’ to accommodate foot traffic and light vehicles, which spans the Brisbane River, from Bulimba to Teneriffe.

At the forefront of this innovative teaching and learning application is Loreto College, Director of Professional Learning and Cognitive Education, Ms Tania Gallen.

Ms Gallen said these STREAM Days were unique to the College and were designed to deepen the students’ understanding of collaborative learning in a practical manner and to build authenticity into the girls’ learning.

The workshop concentrated on group dynamics, modelling, problem solving and collaboration skills with the integration of curriculum and real world application. The challenge required the Year 8 students to take on specific STREAM roles of construction managers, project managers, quantity surveyors, design artists, researchers and spokespeople.

Students were briefed as professionals by industry experts, including Civil Engineer and Teacher, Nadia Conradi and the University of Queensland Women in Engineering students.

With the additional application of ‘Research’, the Loreto Curriculum leaders and teaching team concentrated on expanding student thinking by ensuring the Year 8s were adequately informed prior to commencing their design projects, hence enriching the girls’ own understandings and encouraging them to become more inquisitive with their questioning and flexible thinking.

Ms Gallen said, “The objective of this challenge was to have the students focus on creative problem solving, visible thinking, teamwork and communicating with each other. They were encouraged to work with their peers as though they would in a professional environment; researching, collaborating, designing, constructing, presenting and evaluating.”

“The STREAM challenge focused on promoting links and connections between these fields and encouraged girls to actively explore their interests and prospective careers in the areas of STEM.”

On the second day, the student bridge designs were further constructed, tested and presented to the Year 8 peers and judging panel, before the final evaluation by Golding Project Manager, Michael Friebel. Mr Friebel commented on the variety and creativity of the bridge designs; reinforcing the importance of the introduction of the research and planning stage which drove student thinking to new directions.

Ms Gallen said, “STREAM is about making learning authentic, seeing and recognising open classroom learning and using elements of distinct disciplines. These exercises were not only challenging for students but also for us, as educators, really pushing the boundaries of our profession. It was a great opportunity for our teachers to examine student thinking. Loreto has adopted a protocol (Looking for Learning) that encourages our teachers to deepen student understanding of the learning process. We have used this learning experience for the teachers to be students of our students.”

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