The most common understanding of the term STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM can be a confusing title because it seeks to group a range of subjects which are distinct, yet have fundamental commonalities in their underlying principles.
Scientists study natural phenomena and create formulae to explain, or predict, the behaviour of light, sound, chemicals, energy, organic and inorganic materials, and the universe.
Technologists use Engineering, Science and Mathematics to make an existing task, process or item, safer, more efficient or more cost effective.
Engineers use a combination of Mathematics, Technology and Science, to design and build things and systems, in a safe and reliable way, at the lowest reasonable cost.
Mathematicians study the relationships between numbers to create formulae. Formulae can be used to create “models” of behaviour of the physical world and are utilised in Science, Technology and Engineering.
To assist in their fields, STEM professionals often use computers to solve complex tasks. Computers are becoming more common in every day life and their use is becoming crucial to all kinds of careers. The four basic computational skills that students should develop are:
The concept of using a number of simple commands to create more complex operations. This includes the concepts of which instructions to use, and the order, or sequencing of the instructions is required, to achieve a desired outcome.
The concept and use of the “test” instruction to modify the results, or perform a different operation, based on the values of the input data. Students need to understand which test to use, how many tests are needed and when to perform a test.
Repeating or “Loop” Operations
The concept and use of a loop to repeat a number of operations to achieve something. e.g. A 10 cm square can be drawn by repeating the following command, 4 times, “draw a line 10 cm long, then turn 90 degrees to the right.”
A subroutine is a set of instructions that calculates values, implements features, that are used repeatedly in a program.
e.g. printing, getting a command or data, calculating the square root of a number, etc. Students need to understand how to send a value or values to a subroutine and how a subroutine can send or “return” a value or values to the main program.
The Engineering Design Process
When Engineers need to solve a problem, they use a process known as the Engineering Design Process. This process can lead to new technology which solves a new problem, or solves an already solved problem in a new way. The Engineering Design Process is similar to the Scientific Method used by Scientists.
The first step of the Engineering Design Process is Ideation. In this phase the team considers what problem they are looking to address, and what Mathematics, Science and/or Engineering principles might be able to help them solve the problem. During this phase it is important to think through the following:
What is the problem?
Who has the problem?
Why is it important to solve?
Now it is time to start thinking about solutions. It’s best to brainstorm solutions and generate as many ideas as possible. It doesn’t matter how weird or wacky the suggestions are. Once this is done, each of these ideas should be discussed and measured against the original problem. Does it meet the requirements of the user? Are there parts of the idea which might work with another idea? The goal should be to collect one or more great ideas which are worth exploring further. These ideas will be refined and improved throughout the project.
A prototype is a test of the solution. It may not be the final version of the technology, but it should demonstrate the key elements of the solution and allow the design team to see how the solution might work.
The design process involves multiple iterations and redesigns of your solution. You will likely test your solution, find new problems, make changes, and test new solutions before settling on a final design.
To complete your project you will need to prepare to show it to others, so that they may understand the problem you are trying to solve, your process and your solution. Professional Engineers always do the same, thoroughly documenting their solutions. This presentation should not just be about the final solution that you came up with, but the whole design process. It should include ideas you tried, other things you might have liked to do with more time and ways you think your solution could been better.
The 5 Criterias of Judging
There are 5 criteria that the Judges use to score the projects, over the two rounds of virtual project presentations.
Explain the problem they are trying to solve
Student should be able to explain why they chose the problem, who the solution is likely to benefit and talk about other similar solutions which they researched during the ideation phase of their project.
Describe the benefits of their solution
Students should address the specific benefits of their solution, how it will solve the problem, and why it would be preferable to other similar solutions, if applicable.
Explain the formulae or equations used
Students should be able to show the principles of any Mathematics used to formulate their solution, to a level appropriate for their age group. It is suggested that younger students may want to use a worked example as a memory aid.
Explain the scientific principles used
Students should be able to briefly describe the theory behind any scientific principles they have used to formulate their solution. Use of sources is encouraged. Older students should be able to talk about any flaws or limitations in applying the principles to their problem.
Describe any improvements to their solution
Students should have thought about any improvements that they would like to make given extra time or resources. They should be able to talk about why these improvements would be beneficial.
Teams will be divided into 4 categories based on year group:
i.e. A team of year 5 and 6 students is eligible, but a team of year 8 and 9 students is not.
Teams may choose a project that addresses any one of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. If a team needs some help in making a choice, we have highlighted four themes below, to get the brainstorming underway!
Alternatively, we welcome the use of themes belonging to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals found here.
Project Submission Details
Once your project and 2 minute video are ready, register your project by clicking on the Register Now button.
In the Registration Form, you will be asked for your School Name, Year Group, Team Name, Project Description (a 150 word “project pitch”), the link to your Project Presentation Video, and contact details.
The 2 minute video should Introduce:
- Your School, Year Group, Project Name.
- Details of the project, from concept to solution, and how you used Project Based Learning and STEM to split the work to complete your project.
- Pictures or video of your working model / prototype.
- We also want to hear about how the team split the work to deliver the project on time.
We encourage you to make the video as creatively as you want, as it will be used during your virtual project presentation with the Judges, to showcase your project at the Virtual Awards Evening and then loaded to the GCA YouTube and website!
Note: Parental permissions must be in place if the children are to feature in the video.
Once you have submitted your project, you will then have the opportunity to schedule two time slots for your Virtual Project Presentations.
And remember to prepare for your Virtual Project Presentation. Think of the sorts of questions that you might be asked and agree on the answers as a team.
Virtual Project Presentations
This year the projects will be presented via video conference, so that children in regional and remote areas of WA, can have an opportunity to compete with metro children, to present and win prizes for their innovative solutions.
Project Presentations will be scheduled via the video conferencing system, and there will be test sessions booked before the children present, to make sure that the connection and technology do not interfere with their presentation.
You will deliver your Virtual Project Presentation in two rounds, to a team of judges, via video conference. They will ask you to explain your project’s purpose and how you implemented your solution.
The Judges will use the bespoke GCA Judging App, to collate their scores and produce the winners of each category, for each age group.
The Winners will be invited to the awards evening, which will be streamed via video conference, to all the children that participated.
Virtual Awards Evening
The Awards evening will bring the winners together, with our Patron, Professor Lyn Beazley AO, our Ambassadors and Game Changer Awards Chair, Committee and Volunteers, Sponsors and Local Government Representatives to celebrate their achievements and receive their awards!
Starting at 5pm on the 16th of December, the event will be streamed live via video conference for those that cannot attend.
The location is still to be confirmed.