Hello and welcome to the ‘STEM’ issue! This week we have some expert articles that describe what constitutes a successful STEM program and how you can access proven programmes and resources. We have fun STEM challenges, STEM controversies and a competition winner. And of course, we have loads of STEM products and incursions to spark curiosity and inspire learning! Enjoy!

Teaching STEM

What is 'STEM'?

‘STEM’ is an acronym of the words Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It also represents an approach to teaching these disciplines in an integrated way and not just as stand-alone subjects. STEM learning often takes place in the context of a problem-solving task or challenge where students are required to generate ideas, then design and build a solution that can be tested, evaluated and then refined if necessary. The focus on STEM reflects the identified need for STEM skills in the workforce of the future.  Enjoyable STEM experiences in the primary and early secondary years help students to confidently choose to study STEM subjects at higher levels.

This article by Dr Linda Pfeiffer explains what STEM is, and how teachers are being supported to bring STEM learning to life in the classroom ‘In my life I have lived by four mantras: Do what is hard, place high expectations on yourself, take risks, and do something that matters.’ – Professor Michelle Simmons, Physicist and 2018 Australian of the Year.

STEM Challenges

Classic STEM Challenges for all Ages

Classic STEM Challenges for all ages
STEM tasks do not necessarily involve lots of expensive equipment. They can be done with simple materials. It is important though, to clearly state what the goal and rules of the challenge is and the criteria that must be fulfilled. It is also important to clearly state the type and amount of materials available to each person or group of people. Here are a few of our favourite, simple STEM challenges.
Mad About Science’s list of classic STEM challenges!


               Competition Winner                                                                                                           

We Have a Competition Winner!

Congratulations to eleven year old Lily Richards of North Bondi, you are the winner of our ‘Mums and Science’ competition! Lily told us about a skin condition that her mum has, called eczema. We hope your mum can get some relief soon, Lily. 

You have won a beautiful prize pack that includes a Sunprint Kit, a Sand Art frame, and a Caffeine Molecule Mug!
Look out for another competition with awesome prizes in our next

Thomas Edison

STEM Controversies - Who really invented the lightbulb?

American Inventor Thomas Edison (pictured) is the person usually credited with inventing the incandescent light bulb. However, the real story is a little more complicated than that , with several English scientists developing early versions of the bulb that Edison produced. In fact, when Edison went to patent his bulb design in 1879, Englishman Joseph Swan, who had publicly demonstrated his bulb just one year earlier, sued Edison for patent infringement. Edison moved to also sue Swan, but instead of fighting it out in court, they formed the ‘Ediswan’ lighting company in 1883. This company went onto become the massive ‘General Electric’ company that is still operating today. Read Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s article on those who tackled the challenge of developing electric lighting, and the reasons why Edison got the credit.
The light bulb is just one of many examples of a product or technology where there is a controversy over who actually invented it. The TV, telephone and tablet computers have been the subject of disputes and sometimes even lawsuits, over who should take the credit for its development.


   ‘Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.’ – Thomas Edison

Developing STEM skills in young children

We don’t need to wait until children go to school to begin developing skills in STEM. Young children can be encouraged to do things such as observe the natural world, describe the features of objects, notice change, count things, compare sizes, and consider where they are in relation to other things (spatial awareness) .
Five things parents can do every day to help develop STEM skills from a young age