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The Importance of STEM Education in Schools

Wednesday 12th July 2023

There is a lot of discussion around STEM in modern education and training, and how important it is for different industries and professions. But what is STEM, and what does a STEM education actually look like?

What is STEM education?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and is a focused learning approach that covers these four disciplines in depth and how they relate to each other. As a result, STEM programs in school are very broad and multifaceted with many key skills and abilities being taught to students throughout the STEM program. The blending of STEM related fields into one overall structure is what separates the program from learning the different subjects in isolation, and allows students to recognise how interdisciplinary learning is useful in everyday life.

STEM education often takes a cross-disciplinary approach, where teachers use skills and knowledge from the key focus subject in combination with those from other STEM disciplines to promote overall learning and engagement. For example, a Science subject teacher may bring in a theory from Engineering to deepen the students’ understanding. This interdisciplinary learning creates very dynamic classroom settings where students are encouraged to apply their knowledge to real-world situations

Why is STEM education important?

Demand for STEM skills and qualifications is high and increasing. STEM gives students the ability to adapt and thrive in changing situations, which most workplaces and situations need. In our rapidly changing world, the benefits of stem education are made known everyday. Being able to work with technologies is increasingly important, as automation and artificial intelligence become more commonplace by the day, and new jobs emerge as innovation occurs. According to information from the Victorian Government in 2016, employment in STEM-related jobs grew at a faster rate than employment in other areas, with the trend predicted to continue. By prioritising education in these areas, we can help ensure our students are future-ready and prepared for an evolving job market when they leave school.

Including STEM programs in primary and secondary schools also ensures all students can view those fields as viable career and employment pathways. Despite making up around 48% of the qualified labour force, women only accounted for 16.2% of qualified STEM graduates in 2016. This pattern has held through to recent years: in 2022, women still made up only 27% of the workforce in STEM industries. By ingraining STEM education into curricula from early years, all students are encouraged to try the different fields and apply themselves. Rather than leaving it to later years and tertiary education, students can identify their interests and capabilities at an earlier stage, giving them more confidence to pursue those fields as they get older and reducing overall stigma against women in STEM.


STEM skills

One of the key benefits of studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics is the applicability of the core skills you learn in a variety of scenarios. While each subject area comes with specific knowledge points, underlying everything you learn is the development of core abilities and competencies. Key skills that students develop in STEM subjects include: curiosity, problem solving, critical thinking, initiative, logic and communication.

STEM also helps develop skills that apply to other fields outside of the key disciplines. Students must learn how to design and run projects and experiments, helping them understand the importance of being thorough in their work and critically considering how to solve problems. Working in tandem is creativity, a skill naturally cultivated when designing and analysing systems and processes. Creativity is what allows us to build improvements, make things more efficient, and conceive of new innovations. Almost all professional settings require these abilities in some way, and the adaptability can also help improve situations in your personal life.

Careers in STEM

Gaining skills and competencies in STEM areas can make you a highly valuable potential employee in many industries. Some of the most popular careers with  STEM as a focus include:

Careers in these fields are emerging and growing rapidly, with increased demand every year. Additionally, most professional careers make use of the skills and abilities developed in STEM subjects, even if they are not in STEM-related fields and industries.


How we support our students in STEM fields

The focus points of STEM are embedded in our Science and Mathematics curricula from Year 7 onwards, with students also able to participate in STEM-specific subjects. This includes our STEM Extension Academy subject available to Year 8 and 9 students, as well as a variety of digital technology-related electives and technology focused electives such as Systems Technology. We make a conscious effort to include STEM education in our Junior years so students develop competencies and are exposed to the different areas as soon as possible, helping them understand each STEM field and appreciate their different focuses.

Students can also opt to take VCE subjects that cover these particular areas, including multiple levels of mathematics, biology, chemistry, environmental science, physics, systems engineering, and applied computing. These more specialised Senior subjects provide a more direct path to higher education courses and teach our students valuable knowledge.

Fostering curious and capable minds

Including STEM education as part of our overall curriculum ensures all of our students are provided the fullest educational experience and prepared as well as possible for the future. STEM education ensures our students are able to step confidently into their next endeavours, whatever pathway they choose.