Full STEAM ahead at Wesley
An overview of Wesley’s approach to STEAM education by Director of Strategy Mathew Irving and Head of Science Ian Simpson.
As many are aware, Wesley College has embraced the STEAM movement in education. That is, the drawing together of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics in multidisciplinary and real-world ways. The STEAM disciplines are each in their own way about understanding the world, and about contributing to it.
At Wesley, we are committed to the development of a STEAM strategy that addresses the needs of learners and fosters their potential career paths and life journeys. A high proportion of our students study Science through to Year 12, with a significant number of them going on to undertake further study in Science, Engineering and Medical fields. Last May, the College hosted an impressive panel, including WA’s Chief Scientist Peter Klinken, to discuss STEAM education and why it’s vital for our future. Work continues to be done across the whole College to embrace STEAM, particularly as we look forward to the opening of our new Science Centre.
In the Junior School, an inquiry approach allows students to explore their world, how it works, and what impacts they can have. The Junior School uses the Kath Murdoch Inquiry Cycle which sees inquiry as thinking in order to make meaning. In the early years, students have been asking big questions such as “How can I solve it?” and “How do I make a machine?”, using Wondering Walls as
places where questions can be modelled, recorded, shared and encouraged.
Students’ experiences of STEAM in Years 5 and 6 have been enriched by our coding program and our unique industry partnership with GE. Students are learning foundation coding skills, product design and publishing techniques that transfer to different contexts. Coding is providing specific pathways and career-readiness to STEAM industries for our students.
The College has developed a STEAM Challenge program within our co-curricular offerings including: Daring Tinkers, Coding, F1 Challenge, EV Challenge, Mathematics Enrichment, da Vinci Decathlon and World Scholars Cup. Through these activities, we are encouraging our students to use an inquiry lens to collaboratively design and create solutions to complex problems.
From a classroom perspective, we are currently designing a STEAM inquiry framework for use in the Senior School to encourage inter-disciplinary projects that focus on problem-solving, creativity and collaboration. In 2016, the Project-X course in Year 9 was the first STEAM curricular program that piloted this type of inter-disciplinary learning as students designed solutions to a range of social and commercial problems through self-directed research, data collection and prototyping.
Our refurbishment of the Science building is a deliberate attempt to develop a cutting-edge Science Centre for tomorrow that utilises modern technology and serves as a living science experiment. Using technology such as sensors, cameras, data probes and monitors, it will allow students to interact with live data such as light, movement, CO2 and sound levels. With a drop zone, a living hydroponics wall, and flexible collaborative spaces, the building will be innovative while facilitating agile, integrated and discipline specific learning. As Professor Stephen Heppell, a consultant in our Science refurbishment, says, students are influenced by the spaces in which they learn. The new Science Centre will allow Wesley students to immerse themselves in STEAM. It will peak curiosity, heighten engagement and inspire imaginations. The new building will be operational this year.
Staff at Wesley are embracing STEAM opportunities. Teachers are planning collaboratively, investigating cross-curricular links and participating in the Wesley College STEAM think tank, thereby contributing to the ongoing development and implementation of a STEAM strategy across the College.
Wesley’s approach to STEAM is one of a futures perspective. Part of our job at Wesley College is to make STEAM real for students, and to enable them to be curious problem seekers, systematic problem solvers and collaborators.