STEM Centre - Gowrie's community partnerships pay off

Gowrie Primary School is a little school with a big future in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Their partnership with a local network of innovative businesses has made it possible for the school to upskill their teachers and offer some great opportunities in STEM education.
Getting started with STEM can be hard. But when Gowrie Primary School principal Gareth Richards attended the EDUtech conference in May 2016, he was inspired by the presentations and exhibitions around STEM education, robotics and makerspaces. Gareth saw the potential for some great learning opportunities and once he got back to Canberra he immediately sought out community partners to help get the school moving in the STEM direction.
As Gowrie Primary has developed their STEM Centre program, the CBR Innovate Centre has provided not only the equipment, but also the professional development that will allow teachers to use the equipment effectively. They provided two 3D printers, the software, and a collection of mini robots to the school. This has been a welcome addition to the school’s new Makerspace. Canberra entrepreneur Erica Hediger is their mentor and visiting expert as they get the project off the ground.
When a new LSUA (Learning Support Unit Autism) was built for the school, Gowrie Primary was left with a classroom space full of possibilities. Perfect for a Makerspace! They have started fitting it out with technology (like the 3D printers and robots), but also non-technology equipment like workbenches and creative spaces.

When I visited Gowrie Primary, the staff were learning how to do 3D printing. They were using TinkerCAD, a web-based platform for developing designs for use with 3D printers. Within one hour, they were already creating complex 3D designs for printing.
The school is taking a slowly-slowly approach to STEM education. At the moment, the early adopters are learning how to use the equipment and they will be using the space with their students for dedicated STEM lessons. These will be based around the Technologies Curriculum, with activities based around coding, design and robotics, but the teachers could see the potential for maths and science learning as well. As the staff and students become more confident (and more is added to the space), the staff will explore ways to incorporate the space into everyday learning and inquiry. A big part of the current approach is ‘buddy work’, with older students working with junior students to help them develop their skills.
For many schools (and teachers), STEM can be a daunting addition to the school curriculum, especially the ‘T’ (technology) part. But Gowrie Primary’s approach shows that anything is possible.

Update: here's the first item printed by a student at Gowrie. Cool, huh?