Monthly Archives: September 2014

86 Pieces of Lego


My basement likely has thousands of Lego pieces collecting dust. Three grown children, two of them boys – I couldn’t guess how many Lego sets emerged from Christmas or birthday wrappers. I should have kept track – how much did we buy, vacuum up or step on with tender bare feet. Lego management was tricky – basic sets for little kids gave way to elaborate engineering feats, sets requiring itsy bitsy pieces of specialized madness. Agonizing objectives stopped dead in their tracks over misplaced nubs of quarter inch plastic.

Don’t get me wrong – Lego is pure genius, infinite possibilities limited only by imagination – a dream toy. Lego appeal isn’t limited to children, it sparks creative thinking in anyone who starts snapping blocks together. Much more than following sets of instructions, once you got the hang of it, Lego is akin to a game of chess. Kids visualized 2…

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It’s not rocket science, people! Chief Scientist Ian Webb weighs in on the state of STEM Education in Australia

She Blinded Me With Science! | Flickr Public DomainYesterday, the Australia 2025: Smart Science symposium was held at Parliament House in Canberra to discuss and highlight the importance of STEM Education in Australia’s future.

The news isn’t great.


Australia needs a coherent and long-term STEM strategy


In the symposium, Australia’s Chief Scientist Ian Chubb called on the federal government to “bring coherence” to research and innovation.  He warned that without coherence, the nation risks being left behind in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  He argues that a long-term STEM strategy – with more focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration and less on academic publication – is imperative for Australia to achieve and maintain international research standings.  Hear, hear!

Despite this, Australia remains the only country in the OECD not to have a current STEM national strategy.  Even worse, currently 40% of Year 7 to 10 mathematics classes in Australia are taught without a properly qualified mathematics teacher.


The essence of bricolage


Because of our remoteness, Australia has excelled at “bricolage” by necessity – the ability to innovate and create something new with limited materials available.  We need to ensure that spirit of tinkering isn’t lost!  Kids need to be presented with challenges and encouraged to use their knowledge and imagination to find opportunities.  A cross-disciplinary foundation in STEM helps kids (and adults!) see possibilities by drawing on insights and expertise from multiple fields.


Download the report


The full report can be downloaded here – anyone with an interest in the subject should take a look!

As we continue to debate the best ways to stimulate STEM Education in our schools and inspire the imagination of our children, it is worth remembering an earlier warning:

The reality is that we can’t relax. We can’t be complacent.
There can be no sense of entitlement. We must understand
that we will get the future we earn.

– Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the National Interest: A Strategic Approach (July 2013)


The image above is shared from the Flickr Public Domain – the original can be accessed here.  Thank you Peter for contributing that image!


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