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Australian Uni launches digital STEM site for kids at home

Unique weekly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) challenges are now available for students learning from home as part of Griffith University‘s STEM Mania program.

STEM Mania is available to students in years 5-12 and brings learning, competition, and engagement together in a digital space where students can undertake fun hands-on activities from home.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences) stated that the challenges were designed to be completed with materials and resources students have at home.

He noted that with many school students now completing their studies from home, keeping them engaged in hands-on STEM activities is essential.

STEM Mania gives school students a unique opportunity to collaborate, challenge themselves and learn about various topics within the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

With challenges released weekly, students can learn about a range of topics and challenge themselves in practical projects that have been developed by Griffith University STEM experts.

From planting native seeds in the backyard to developing their own game, students earn digital badges on their profiles for each challenge they complete.

The individual projects and challenges do not have a single unique solution. Students are encouraged to be creative, think outside the box and develop their critical thinking skills, the Professor stated.

Once students have finished a challenge, they can engage with other STEM Maniacs by uploading their results to the platform and casting a vote for their favourite entry each week.

With more than 1700 students already registered across Australia and worldwide, STEM Mania will not only provide hands-on experiences, but it will give school students multiple taste tests of different areas of STEM.

By engaging in a variety of STEM activities, school students can get a better understanding of the common work undertaken by industry professionals, helping them make a more educated decision on the fields they are interested in delving into after school.

Learning from home in Australia

The coronavirus pandemic has seen schools across Australia roll out home learning. A recent article detailed how families and teachers are coping.

It was noted that teachers have mixed emotions. Like parents who have shifted their working lives online, they’re tackling new challenges putting classroom lessons into a digital space.

One educator stated that she was excited to try new things and feel like a pioneer in a new revolution.

Another teacher noted, “I do it willingly because I love to teach but the last two-and-a-half weeks of term one were exhausting,” adding, however, “I do not know how long a sustained online teaching presence can be productive.”

Teachers have been working extremely hard to make this happen and the amount of sharing of resources, ideas and care for each other has been astronomical.

Some students were great at accessing online lessons, asking questions and answering them for others. It has been a very positive start, another teacher stated.

However, despite all parties pushing through, there is always room for growth and improvement. Online resources like Griffith’s STEM Mania program along with various other digital curriculums and initiatives will help ease the change.

While some schools across Australia are reopening despite COVID-19 danger, it appears that the majority of educational institutions will remain closed for the foreseeable future. During this time, it is all hands on deck as parents, teachers and academic administrators rush to help students meet educational standards.

It is now apparent how digitalization is key to keeping societal structures running even in medical and economic crises.

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