A STEAM School using the Big Picture Education (BPE) design for learning and school – what an innovative STEM Education might look like

John Hogan, Barry Down


Recent reports coming out of Australia proclaim a number of “STEM in school” issues, among them the need for more students to engage in STEM at school; insufficient numbers of students pursuing STEM pathways post-school; and the school Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) pathway that results in too many students missing out too early. Succeeding in STEM subjects at school is one thing, but being passionate about working on society’s great challenges is another. We need young people who are passionate and committed to continuing their study in STEM-related areas. Traditional strategies like trying harder, committing more funding and adhering to current practices are clearly not working. We argue that innovation in school design and pedagogy is required.
In this article we describe how this kind of innovation might look in three ways by first, expanding STEM to STEAM and explaining how the A(rts) can contribute to STEM education in more engaging ways; second, using the Big Picture Education (BPE) design for learning to create opportunities for deep learning around student interests and internships; and third, showing how engaging student interest in the compelling challenges of our time can generate motivation, depth of learning, and better outcomes for STEAM areas in the future. We conclude by illustrating how a BPE school could make a substantial contribution to both the local and wider community and serve as a national model for alternative STEM/STEAM schools.

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