Beacon Inspiring Interest in STEM Education
The Beacon program creating passion for STEM
The Beacon program is leading the way in inspiring interest in STEM.
Student outcomes and engagement are in decline, while demand for digital proficiency and highly capable STEM graduates is increasing. Partnering to address this issue, Lumination and BAE Systems Australia have come together to reignite a passion for STEM across the nation.
South Australian schools, Northfield Primary School and Enfield Primary School, were two of seven schools that enrolled in the first ever Beacon program, with 294 students taking part. The verdict? The program was a roaring success.
Bringing future careers into focus
The Beacon STEM program engages years 4-6, taking place across schools in South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia in 10-week and 5-day intensive programs. Understanding the need for STEM roles in the workforce, Northfield and Enfield participated over 10 weeks.
“I think it’s really important that all our students have access to these technologies because it is the way of the future; it’s the way the world’s going,” says Sarah Krstic, a primary teacher at Northfield. “And it’s going to lead into their working life as well.”
When the 10-week program kicked off, just 64% of the students knew what they want to be when they grow up, with aspirations to become doctors, soccer players, barbers, youtubers and more.
By the end, student perception towards STEM subjects improved across the board, with 80% looking forward to a career as an engineer, video game developer, animator, PC builder, scientist and other STEM-related roles.
“I want to be a scientist,” says Aliera, Beacon participant and Year 4 student at Northfield Primary School. “I really want to make new creations for the world and I think it would be a good opportunity.“
Solving real world problems through STEM education
Beacon gives students the opportunity to solve real world problems around sustainability, through the use of emerging technologies. Students explore the realms of land, air and sea with hands-on experiences using immersive virtual reality, coding, robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D modelling.
“We were learning about the robots and how they work,” says Geneva, Year 6 Enfield student. “I liked how you get to explore all the different programming and how you get to design your own cubes and get to visualise it on the smartphones. It’s a very interesting thing I’ve never done before, so it’s been an excellent experience.”
Fusing technology, sustainability and critical thinking
With a theme of “Our Future World,” both 5- and 10-week programs incorporate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their role in developing solutions for a future world.
Students explore different potential career pathways, using emerging technologies as tools for critical and creative thinking, problem solving and innovation.
“My students have benefitted from the Beacon program in so many ways,” says Gaby Player, a primary teacher at Enfield. “They are really engaged and it’s just really new technology for them that they’ve not really been exposed to before.”
The content links directly to the Australian Curriculum Sustainability Cross Curriculum Priority and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Don’t forget the soft skills
One of the lesson plans invites students to invent a sustainable device, encouraging creativity.
“The gadget that I put together was an electricity saver,” says Daniel, a Year 4 student at Northfield. “So when you open the door and the light is off, the door has a string on it and it twists the alarm in the middle and the alarm goes off.”
Using robotics, virtual reality and an understanding of other digital technologies, the students learn about the application of immersive technology whilst also developing soft skills related to creativity, inclusivity, honesty, innovative thinking, teamwork, boldness and goal setting.
The importance of an early start
Passions and career pathways start early. We need the scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians to drive Australia into the future.
“My favourite thing about the Beacon program … is just how excited the kids have been walking into the lesson,” says Sarah Krstic, Primary Teacher at Northfield Primary School. “They just get so excited to use all the different technologies.”
Thanks to a successful start, the program will continue in 2023, growing over a three year partnership between Lumination and BAE Systems Australia.
“The earlier we can give them access to this, the different pathways that they can take in the future as well,” says Krstic. “And the more comfortable they’re going to be with it in the future.”
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