Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is thriving at Pymble Ladies’ College in Sydney, where Robotics programs have been designed to prepare its girls for a world where sustainability and solutions are key.
“Robotics at Pymble transcends designing, coding and building. It is teaching students real world, relevant skills like systems-thinking and problem-solving, but also the ‘soft’ skills of teamwork and tenacity,” said Pymble’s Head of Science Dr Kristie Spence.
According to Dr Spence, the Pymble Robotics team incorporates both individual and collaborative work and “is a natural opportunity for cross-level mentoring” where senior students work alongside younger students in their STEM journey, passing on their skills and insights. “It’s more than robots.”
Pymble’s participation in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) gives students the chance to give back to the wider community by sharing their time, knowledge and passion for STEM and they meet like-minded students from across the world.
It prepares them early for the STEM-focused world they will soon enter.
At Pymble, the learning begins at Preparatory School with Coding classes and flows through to secondary students’ STEM education in the opportunities available in the school’s curriculum and co-curricular offerings.
The Invergowrie Foundation’s 2017 report, Girls’ Future – Our Future concluded that the “deeply-embedded” gendered culture in students’ homes, in the community, media and institutional environments can impede girls’ enthusiasm to choose STEM subjects at school.
“It has been estimated that 75 per cent of the fastest-growing occupations, including those in the creative industries and humanities, will require STEM-related skills and knowledge. Critical thinking and problem-solving, analytic capabilities, curiosity and imagination have all been identified as critical ‘survival skills’ in the workplace of the future. The implications for not addressing this issue now will have major ramifications going forward.
“If girls and women are not encouraged to engage with STEM now, they will be at greater risk of becoming excluded from a substantial part of the workforce of the future.”
Students also reap the rewards for their wellbeing, according to Dr Spence; for Pymble girls to seize the opportunity to find their “niche” in the school environment.
“Being part of the Robotics team gives our girls a beautiful sense of belonging,” she said.
Ten Pymble teams have qualified for the National round of the FIRST Tech Challenge in December and Pymble Principal Dr Kate Hadwen is incredibly proud of the College’s Robotics program.
“There is a demand for greater expertise in jobs in the Science and Technology field, and our world-class Robotics and STEM programs are preparing our girls for life beyond school, where these skills are key,” said Dr Hadwen.
With the school’s well-rounded, personalised and forward-thinking curriculum and co-curricular programs, Pymble girls are ready to take on the future.