‘Real World’ STEM Examples
Bike made out of recycled cardboard
Biodegradable Plastic Water Bottle
Biodegradable Plates Are Edible
Fish Life Jacket
Refish: Low cost air filter inspired by nature
Seed-filled balls are helping save the Earth’s forests
Streets are being painted white
Shampoo bottle “ventilators” helping children survive pneumonia.
Buildings made from paper by Shigeru Ban
The man who grows furniture
The World’s First Rotating Skyscraper
3D Printing STEM Examples
3D Printed Reef
3D printed ribs for a cancer patient
3D Printed Pottery
3D Printed Prosthetic Hands
See CSIRO website for more examples of 3D printing: https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/MF/Areas/Metals/Lab22/3D-printed-jet-engine
Young people using STEM skills to solve problems:
Richard Turere: invention to protect farms from predators in Kenya
Molly Steer: Straws No More
America Hernandez, Aracely Chavez, Daniela Orozco, Kassandra Salazar, Kenia Shi, Maggie Mejia, Paola Valtierra, Patricia Cruz, Paulina Martinez, Prinsesa Alvarez, Veronica Gonzalez, and Wendy Samoyoa: Created a Solar-Powered Tent to Tackle Homelessness
Inspiring STEM Professionals
Dr Fiona Wood: Australian plastic surgeon and ‘Spray-on Skin’ Pioneer. Fiona Wood and Marie Stoner used tissue engineering technology to treat burns using ‘spray-on skin’. Dr Wood was the 2005 Australian of the Year. More information:
Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim: Biomedical scientist treating spinal cord injuries, 2017 Australian of the Year.
Science inquiry and experiment resources, including resources for teaching students to ask ‘good’ scientific questions. I use Professor Alan Mackay-Sim’s story as a stimulus for teaching students about questioning in science.
Maryam Mirzakani: mathematician who explored the dynamics and geometry of complex surfaces, she was a mathematics professor at Stanford University, and the first woman to win a Fields Medal (maths most prestigious prize), and enjoys solving difficult problems that may take months or years to solve. https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/maryam-mirzakhanis-pioneering-mathematical-legacy ; https://www.wired.com/2014/08/maryam-mirzakhani-fields-medal/ ; https://www.nature.com/articles/549032a
Dr Katie Bouman: computer scientist whose algorithm made the historic image of a black hole possible. She was among a team of 200 researchers who contributed to the breakthrough. Credit and full articles: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/11/katie-bouman-black-hole-photo ; https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-04-11/black-hole-event-horizon-telescope-five-things-you-might-miss/10993112
Professor Rose Amal: Australian chemical engineer currently researching how to use sunlight to transform carbon dioxide into a sustainable and renewable source of fuel. 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. More information:
Katherine Johnson: NASA mathematician who calculated and analysed the flight paths of many spacecraft during her more than three decades with the U.S. space program. Her work helped send astronauts to the Moon. https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography ; https://www.britannica.com/biography/Katherine-Johnson-mathematician
Monique Hollick: South Australian Space Systems Engineer. Monique was recognised as an Emerging Space Leader in 2018, she has published a paper Space Weather (she was the lead author) and presented at the Lunar and Small Bodies Graduate Conference at NASA Ames in 2014. More information:
Roma Agrawal: structural engineer, who has designed bridges, skyscrapers and sculptures. She worked with a team to design the tallest tower in western Europe. More information:
Dr Chris Matthews: from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Maths Alliance, explains how maths is everywhere and how we can change mindsets about maths to better respond to children’s natural curiosity
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: astronomer who discovered that stars are made mainly of hydrogen and helium and established that stars could be classified according to their temperatures. Her achievements include being a full professor at Harvard, chairman of the astronomy department, she wrote a thesis which was described as “undoubtedly the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy”, and she was also an author of a number of books.
Equality in STEM education
- Be aware of unconscious bias: Dr Carol Newall and colleagues found that teachers used less scientific talk when they were teaching a girl.
- Have role models close to their age such as successful girls in science at high school, so they can imagine themselves as scientists in the near future.
- Model a positive attitude towards maths and science
- Encourage children to join in non-stereotypical activities during preschool and primary school years.
- Foster self-confidence and self-efficacy for female students, who are typically less confident than their male peers.
- Effort and appropriate experiences, rather than natural ability, are mainly responsible for success in the STEM disciplines. Therefore, praise effort and reasoning to a greater degree than correct answers.
- Develop reasoning skills through putting the emphasis on the process, not just product. Encourage female students to make reasoned conjectures about problems, to explore varied approaches to STEM tasks, and to explain and justify their work.
- Make connections so students see the practical value of the STEM knowledge and skills they learn in school.
- Set up collaborative groups for success:
- put in place measures to ensure equal and fair student participation;
- mixed-gender groups, but avoid placing only one girl in a small group, even if that results in having one or more all-male groups. Monitor and rotate these groups regularly
How to get started with STEM…Click here for resources
More free STEM resources and ideas… Click here for examples of STEM units using the Engineering Design Process
Unit examples and engineering design process:
- NASA: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/tag/search/InSight?fbclid=IwAR0LCUYrXw_iT65uiQKYbhT7wPhmVLyeXPyWXWuPn2MbzxW28bXjPRHK7KY
Technology lending library (Australia): https://csermoocs.adelaide.edu.au/library/
Live animal hire and biology science kits in Adelaide: https://www.nature.sa.edu.au/