ACG Tauranga is equipping students for the future by upping the ante in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). With a new EPro8 Club, an inaugural school science fair, and an innovative and refreshed science programme, students are strengthening their skills for success in our rapidly changing world.
"We've always had STEM incorporated into our science programme. However, this is the first year we've taken it to a new level and really focussed on the skills it can bring our students," explains ACG Tauranga Science Coordinator Rob Webster.
STEM education is future-focused and builds skills in critical thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, teamwork and problem-solving.
"World challenges such as climate change, pandemics and food shortages all require these skills - and with the huge growth forecast in STEM-based careers, there will be plenty of opportunities for students in these disciplines."
In the past year, ACG Tauranga's science department has increased its emphasis on all things STEM, including holding the first-ever ACG science fair competition for students in Years 7 and 8.
"It was a huge success with two scientists from our ACG Tauranga community sharing their expertise as part of the judging panel. And our winners then went on to compete in the Bay of Plenty Science & Technology Fair."
In addition, ACG Tauranga EPro8 Club is proving to be an extremely popular extracurricular option for students who meet twice a week during lunchtime. Club members participate in local and regional EPro8 competitions using equipment to build large-scale structures and applying mathematical skills and logic to solve various challenges. Teams are tasked with completing as many challenges as they can in a two-and-a-half-hour time period.
"This year, we entered an amazing 13 EPro8 teams into the regional competitions. What a great effort! We did incredibly well too – our Primary team came first equal, one of our Year 10 teams came first, and one of our Year 11 teams was awarded fourth place."
And while STEM activities have always been included in ACG science programmes, the boost they've been given in 2022 has inspired and enthused students and staff.
"I'm proud of how our teachers and students have embraced it, particularly the ideas that teachers have brought to continue its success. For example, to help science students understand concepts taught in class, they participate in STEM activities like building planetarium models, constructing an insulated fridge, and creating 3D model cells out of household items. Meanwhile, our Years 7 to 10 computer science teacher, Rebekah Ceelan, is incorporating programming, digital citizenship and coding into her courses – all great STEM projects!"
With such practical and innovative classes and passionate and inspiring teachers, it's little wonder that more and more students are opting for STEM-related subjects.
"I am so proud of the incredible work of our teachers, who have helped students in various STEM projects throughout the year. They are creative, caring and innovative, and they inspire students to strive for excellence and encourage them to thrive in STEM."
Clearly, much great work has already been invested into the school's STEM programme, but neither Rob nor the curriculum have any plans of slowing down.
"STEM will continue to grow and enrich students' learning experiences at ACG. I would like to see more done in the way of technology such as using robotics and 3D printers, and I hope students can be inspired to design and create projects which will ultimately benefit the community."