From the Principal

STEAM – More than just playing with ‘cool toys’

A 21st-century education is one that responds to the economic, technological, and societal shifts that are happening at an ever-increasing pace. It’s an education that sets children up to succeed in a world where more than half of the jobs they’ll have over their careers don’t even exist yet.

As a school, we are not prepared to ignore the great leaps in technology that have occurred and will keep occurring.

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” John Dewey.

Our challenge is to integrate these new technologies into a coherent and effective learning process and not get caught up in being fascinated by the latest bright and shiny gadgets.

At St Columba, the responsibility for making sure that learning is enhanced by these new technologies, not distracted by them, falls to the Director of STEAM, Daniel Zavone.

For those of you who are not up with current educational jargon, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

This amalgamation of subjects means that K to 12 teaching at St Columba gets rid of the old educational silos where subjects with a similar focus acted individually and often duplicated what was being taught in another related subject.

In other words, our school organisation has been adapted so that it looks more like the current and future working world, rather than a reflection of the way the world was.

Daniel and his team are champions of design thinking:

Design thinking is a methodology that encourages creativity and innovation through rapid prototyping early in the design process. It encourages risk-taking, accepts failure and depends on testing and feedback in order to reach the best final outcome. But perhaps the most important aspect of design thinking is its human-centric focus. The design thinking process focuses on reconnecting to a person or community and truly understanding their fundamental needs.

One significant difference between St Columba and other schools is the addition of the Visual Arts to this directorate.

 This addition means that when we are looking at design, we not only look at it from a practical standpoint, we also look at it from an aesthetic point of view.

Look at how successful companies like Apple are using aesthetics to bolster their sales and you can see why we do that.

In terms of more “traditional” design teaching, St Columba has shown that we don’t only play with the “cool toys”, we use them to translate learning into excellent results.

For the past few years our STEAM students have achieved stunning Higher School Certificate results and scored success in national and international competitions.

“A robotics team from St Columba Anglican School (SCAS) is preparing to compete in the “FIRST Australia Duel Down Under” at Macquarie University in Sydney. The large scale robotics competition brings together students and mentors to build robots that perform in a competitive and fun environment.”

“The robotics team at St Columba Anglican College are headed to Texas, USA to compete in the First Robotics Competition.”

Any parent who remembers the dark and dusty technic blocks of their school days would be surprised, not only at the light, airy and spacious labs we have at St Columba but also the breadth of design and STEAM-related teaching activities carried out from Kindergarten through to Year 12.

From Stage 1 upwards our students are immersed in a world of imagination and design.

Laser cutters, vacuum formers, 3D printers all act as tools that make the students’ designs real.
Robots are designed, built and tested before taking on the world.
Students design and prepare excellent food.

Students from Kindergarten to Year 12 learn about the environment and how they can help an ailing planet in their purpose-built Sustainability and Environment Centre.

STEAM @ St Columba is about:

  • Examining the world
  • Imagination
  • Ideas, plans and processes
  • Hands-on experience
  • Experimentation
  • Engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Success

Just because we live in a regional area, we do not accept that our students should accept a second class education. STEAM at St Columba reflects the world our children inhabit and prepares them for success in that world. Our Scientists, Designers, Engineers, Artists and Mathematicians have been given the resources, support and teaching that will allow them to take on the world!

Terry Muldoon

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