Updated: Aug 3, 2022
In November 2019, more than 50 Catholic educational leaders from all states in Australia gathered for the Participants Forum titled Challenge Connect Create for a day focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
As part of the forum, two keynotes were delivered. The morning keynote from Andrew Douch was an outstanding presentation covering the use of technology in teaching and learning. It was no surprise to see he had won the Microsoft Innovative Teacher of the Year award earlier in his career. The key discussion points from the keynote were ‘how do we make learning stimulating?’ and ‘how do we increase feedback to teachers?’
The afternoon keynote was from two Monash University academics: Professor Amanda Berry and Dr Kathy Smith. Their presentation looked at creating the enabling conditions for critical and creative thinking in integrated STEM learning. The morning session was followed by an open session where students from nine Melbourne schools demonstrated their STEM projects to the attendees while they mingled and had their morning tea.
The attendees were asked to vote for the best primary and secondary presentations. The Wellbeing App from Holy Saviour Parish School, Vermont South, was considered the best primary school presentation and the Robotic Arm from St Monica’s College, Epping, was voted the best secondary school presentation.
The program continued with two sets of ‘hands-on’ workshops from the Digital Learning Network (DLN) dioceses. Schools from Catholic Education South Australia (CESA) provided a number of workshops — one of which included teachers and students from Cabra Dominican College running a session on the use of Minecraft in learning.
The Diocese of Maitland Newcastle provided a student-led hands on workshop from their virtual academy. The Diocese of Sandhurst provided coverage of their students’ film festival.
All workshops were very well received with the student participation being of particular note. The day finished with a brainstorming session to assist in the planning for 2020 and 2021. The two main streams to emerge were:
1. Pursue ideas around supporting the introduction of artificial intelligence/ augmented reality/virtual reality for deep learning in schools
2. Pursue further inter-diocesan sharing mechanisms, such as a 2021 National STEM Showcase building on the Catholic Education Melbourne STEM MAD Showcase.