Teachers and lecturers from The University of Queensland and the Brisbane Grammar School will be bringing STEM subjects to learners all around the world. STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. They will be utilizing the – always growing – Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) method of getting information to learners. Announced at the World Science Festival Brisbane on the 10th of March in Brisbane.
The course is called Question Everything: Scientific Thinking in Real Life and is free to enroll for. University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joanne Wright says that this course will give students the “skills to understand when and how to ask important scientific questions”.
The course is focused on students who are in secondary school (grades 9-12) who are in danger of becoming disinterested in maths, science, engineering and technology.
Anthony Micallef, the Brisbane Grammar School headmaster, alluded to the implementing of MOOC technology which would fulfil the intention of becoming an international provider of education in STEM subjects, amongst other “teaching and learning innovations.” He added, “Question Everything is a new venture for Brisbane Grammar School and is the first MOOC of its kind in Australia, designed for high school students by high school teachers, working in partnership with a university.”
The disinterest of STEM subjects is becoming worrisome, even grabbing the attention of the tertiary sector. This has been corroborated by the Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay. In the first episode of Engineering News Network (ENN), Mackay refers to the “engineering valley of death.”
“Essentially the concept is when the young adults get to about 12 or 13 years old they lose interest in STEM. This is a tremendous drop-off and then when they get to 18 or 19 there is only a small fraction of the school cohort that actually go into engineering or scientific careers, which is a terrible shame,” Mackay said.
This is what the University of Queensland is trying to prevent with their new online courses along with secondary schools. As a possible solution, Mackay suggests “getting good teachers, getting volunteers from the industry involved in schools” and somehow incorporating business with engineering. Through this he hopes the engineering “valley of death” can be overcome and there will be renewed interest in STEM subjects.