November 17 2017
At the best of times, new technology can be hard to get your head around, but when you’re charged with inspiring students to engage with the very latest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) it can seem an uphill battle, especially if you don’t have a technical background.
New technology from Stemtap, a University of South Australia supported start-up, is helping teachers confidently embrace STEM and coding in the classroom, building students’ much-needed curiosity and engagement with the subjects deemed so critical for Australia’s sustainable future.
Announced today as the winner of an AMP Tomorrow Fund grant, Stemtap is one of 45 recipients from a pool of 1872 applicants, and will receive $21,000 to further develop their technology.
Co-developed by mechanical engineer, Thomas Kuys and UniSA graduate software engineer, Gwilyn Saunders, with the support of UniSA’s Innovation and Collaboration Centre, Stemtap is a new STEM teaching resource that combines leading edge technology with Australian curriculum-matched content.
“Stemtap is an interactive and kinesthetic coding platform that blends hardware and software to support any school grade and any topic,” Kuys says.
“Using simple wireless tools, it allows students to build, create, or combine code to deliver responsive devices that they can touch and feel, things such as game controllers and harmonious musical gadgets.
“It’s this tangibility that makes it easier for students to understand the outcomes of their coding, and when students are excited and engaged, they’re more likely to explore further.”
According to the 2017 National Scientific Statement, participation in STEM subjects in Australian schools is declining, with enrolments in these subjects at the lowest level in 20 years.
The report says that if the downward trend continues, Australia may not be able to supply the skills required for the future workforce.
“Our play and problem-based learning platform engages students in a meaningful way, at the same time, giving teachers the confidence to tackle STEM head on,” Kuys says.
“We’re trying to make smarter, faster and easier solutions for teachers to integrate coding seamlessly into the classroom and given Australia’s new curriculum requirements for digital literacy, this technology is very timely.”
In late 2015, the government introduced the National STEM School Education Strategy which outlines the actions to lift skills in STEM learning areas.
“With technology changing all the time, children have lots of new opportunities to learn more and learn better. But when the context of learning is changing so rapidly, teachers are finding it hard to keep up,” Kuys says.
“Stemtap provides an easy, interesting and practical STEM teaching tool, which enables coding literacy among teachers empowering them to teach STEM subjects more confidently, within the parameters of the current school curriculum.
“Teachers play a vital role in STEM. They’re at the first stages of the talent pipeline, and they have great influence on students about how they engage with STEM. Any tools that can facilitate this are very welcome.”
“As an AMP Tomorrow Maker, I’m very grateful. This grant tells us that we are working in the right direction and will give us the motivation to keep pushing Stemtap as far as we can take it.”
AMP’s Tomorrow Fund
Launched in 2014, AMP’s Tomorrow Fund is run by the AMP Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AMP that has been supporting determined Australians of all ages and walks of life who are working hard towards a goal that will benefit the community, but need help to take it to the next level.
Now in its fourth year, this program supports talented and innovative Australians with grants of up to $100,000. As diverse as Australia itself, AMP Tomorrow Makers are pursuing goals across many fields – from art to athletics, science to social innovation, music to medical research and more.
The Innovation and Collaboration Centre
The Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC) is a strategic partnership between the University of South Australia (UniSA), the South Australian Government and DXC Technology (DXC), supporting technology-based incubation and business growth. The Centre provides a multidisciplinary environment where SME’s, students and entrepreneurs can access a wide range of expertise to help them develop their products and grow their business.
Contact for interview:
Thomas Kuys, Stemtap
M: 0418 823 738 | email firstname.lastname@example.org
Media contact: Annabel Mansfield mobile: 0417 717 504 email: Annabel.Mansfield@unisa.edu.au
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