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Real-world problems used as focus for learning

STEM achievers: St Mary’s College, Toowoomba, high achievers at recent STEM competitions hosted by Griffith University.

SCIENCE, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at St Mary’s College, Toowoomba, uses real-world problems to spark curiosity and teach.

This is reinforced through integrated learning in the classroom whilst also providing extra-curricular opportunities for boys. 

This includes a timetabled STEM class for Year 9s where they concentrate on solving real-world issues throughout Term 3, before competing in the international First Lego League competition in Term 4. 

Further opportunities are offered after school with the Primary STEM Club and Future Solu-tions.

Both groups gather weekly to undertake various extension activities around the areas of maths, science and technology that are not part of the compulsory curriculum. 

In addition, the boys enter various competitions targeted around STEM and entrepreneurial skills, with both groups competing in the Griffith University STEM Cup Challenge in 2019. 

Future Solutions have also entered other competitions including the Science and Engineering Challenge, the Maths Team Challenge, the Generation Innovation (Gen(in)) state competition, the Mayor’s Telstra Awards, F1 Challenge, and the International Mathematics Modelling Competition. 

These competitions allow the boys to further develop their collaboration and teamwork skills as well as use their mathematics, science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurial and creativity skills to identify a problem and/or solve/develop a real-world practical problem. 

This year, our Future Solutions group was the day winner in the 2019 Science and Engineering Challenge, state community award winner in the Gen(in) entrepreneurial competition for the design and partial development of an application to promote Indigenous culture within the community, grand finalist in the Griffith University STEM Cup, and first, second and third place recipients in the Darling Downs Mayor’s Telstra Awards. 

First place in the Mayor’s Telstra Awards was won by Khai Van Heerdan, Bailey Fry and Lachlan Ramm with their idea of developing a shoe with replaceable soles in order to play different sports, reduce waste and save on yearly footwear costs. 

Second place was won by Craig Danckwerts, Dhairy Shah and Joshua Lane, with their idea of developing an Augmented Reality Application that allows cricketers to play a virtual game of cricket in the nets to simulate real match practise with virtual fielders but using a real bowler and cricket ball. 

Third place was won by Joseph Doljanin, Alex Myers and Connor Nicholls with IndigiTech, an application to promote Indigenous culture within the community through tourism and education within schools. 

This was the team that was a state winner at the Gen(in) entrepreneurial competition. 

It has been a highly successful year for the students of St Mary’s College in STEM, and the college is continually exploring opportunities for both STEM-integrated learning within the curriculum, as well as offering further extra-curricular activities. 

St Mary’s will host the Youth, Entrepreneurs and STEAM Conference on June 3, 2020. 

The goal of this conference is to inspire, empower and ignite students and their teachers to be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial using the thinking involved in STEAM (STEM plus arts). This is a conference designed and led by students and teachers for students and teachers.

Written by: Staff writers
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