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 overlap in their underlying principles.
Scientists study natural phenomena and create formulas to explain or predict the behaviour of light, sound, chemical properties, electricity, plant growth, the universe.
When Engineers, Scientists and Mathematicians successfully create something that is able help people achieve something they previously couldn’t or to make an existing task easier, this is technology.
Engineers use a combination of mathematics and scientific formula to design and build equipment and systems in a safe and reliable way at the lowest reasonable cost to improve the quality of life.
Mathematicians study the relationships between numbers to create formulas. Formulas can be used to create “models” of behaviour of the physical world and are utilised in Science.
To assist in their fields, STEM professionals often use computers to help with 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 be developing 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 what 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.
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 4 times, “draw a line 10 cm long, then turn 90 degrees to the right”.
A subroutine consists of a set of instructions that calculates the values, implements features or services that are used repeatedly in a program or application. 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 or application.
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, better way. The Engineering Design Process is different to the Scientific Method, which is used by scientists to investigate but is quite similar.
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 Maths, Science or Engineering principles might be able to help them solve the problem. During this phase it is important to think through the following:
Once you have decided on the problem your team is going to solve, it is time to start thinking about solutions. It is best to brainstorm solutions and get as many different ideas as you can. It doesn’t matter how weird or wacky the suggestions are, just get as many as possible. 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? Is 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 in action. It may not be like the final version of the technology will be, 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 final 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 others your project. 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 along the way. It should include ideas you tried, other things you might have liked to do with more time and ways you think your solution could have been better.
There are 5 criteria which the judges will use to score projects submitted to the Awards on the day. Students should make sure they address all 5 criteria in their final presentation.
Student should be able to explain why they chose this problem, who the solution is likely to benefit and talk about other similar solutions which they researched during the ideation phase of their project.
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.
Students should be able to show the principles of any maths 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.
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.
Students should have thought about any improvements that they would like to make given extra time, money or other 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. These are:
Students are able to have mixed year group teams provided they do not cross over categories (ie a team of year 5 and 6 students is eligible, but a team of year 8 and 9 students is not.
age group may pick from any of the four categories. Students should be prepared to talk about how their project fits into one of the categories during their presentation. The themes for 2018 are:
Projects aimed at preserving a natural resource. This might include water conservation, habitat conservation, wildlife conservation and many others.
Projects aimed at allowing survival of humans or other lifeforms in extreme environments, such as outer space, underwater, cold environments, hot environments or contaminated sites
Projects aimed at helping individuals who have disabilities that affects their everyday life. It can be a physical or mental disability, as long as it enables to enrich an individuals life.
Projects aimed at addressing pollution. This could be any kind of pollution, from rubbish to light or sound pollution.
Judging on the day of the awards will be carried out by teams of judges. Each team will contain three judges and will consist of at least one teacher and at least one STEM professional.
Each team will be visited by two separate teams of judges and will have to present to both. Presentation are expected to last for 10-15 minutes, and judges may have follow up questions for the team.
The results will be aggregated and analysed to ensure a fair result, allowing no differences in judging harshness or biases to effect the result.Become a Judge
Registration will open in Mid may after the kickoff webinar. Expressions of interest are open now on our website. Click on the Register Interest button below and register your students to join in on the Awards day!Register Interest