Fund amount:
$75,000 over three years

Program area:
Arts, Culture and Education

Location:
Loddon Mallee

Year:
2017

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Discovering a love of science

Australia’s economy is set to benefit significantly if we can boost the number of students pursuing further study in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The Discovery Science and Technology Centre in Bendigo (Discovery), in partnership with La Trobe University, has been doing its bit to improve science teaching and learning along with the career prospects of regional young people in Victoria.

Their program, supported by a grant from the Ross Trust, trains second year preservice primary school teachers to teach more and better science in country classrooms. The program is linked to the Victorian curriculum and based on the award-winning Primary Connections resources.

In a participant survey after the first year of the program:

  • 76 per cent reported an increase in confidence in teaching STEM
  • 82 per cent reported an increase in competence in teaching STEM
  • 88 per cent said they’d use elements of the program in their teaching practice, and
  • 93 per cent said they’d like to bring their classes to Discovery in the future.

In 2017, preservice teachers studying at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus had the benefit of access to trained science communicators from the ANU and Questacon in Canberra, teaching them experiments and techniques to inspire pupils in the classroom.

The soon-to-be teachers were also provided with resources to take into their new schools when they graduated.

In 2018, preservice primary school teachers from both Bendigo and Mildura campuses were involved in the program with Bendigo Discovery, which hosted workshops in the University environment and on site at Discovery with local Bendigo-based primary schools. The Bendigo Discovery activity afforded preservice teachers an authentic experience of a science-based excursion from the perspective of the teacher, tied to the Primary Connections resources and lessons.

The expectation is that on completion of the program, graduates will come into schools with real life experience and confidence while existing teachers will be encouraged to be open, learn and increase their comfort in teaching STEM also.

When you think that each graduate student will teach nearly 1000 pupils over their career, this is one intervention set to create a ripple effect. It will build on Discovery’s mission of inspiring and nourishing scientific curiosity and their number one priority of helping teachers inspire primary students to love science and study STEM.

The not-for-profit, hands-on science centre at Bendigo Discovery was Australia’s first science and technology centre outside of a major metropolitan area and hosts 30,000 visitors annually.