Different kinds of STEM education initiatives

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There are many different kinds of STEM education initiatives to consider

There are lots of different approaches to improving STEM outcomes through education and industry partnerships. Some are more established than others. New and innovative approaches are developing all the time. The evidence about which types of initiatives work best and for what, is growing but incomplete.

Below you can find information on thirteen common types of STEM education initiatives. You can search or filter to match your interests and priorities. The page for each initiative has more information on benefits, limitations, evidence and tips for implementation.


  • Teacher professional learning
  • In class learning
  • Out of school learning


  • Suitable for primary
  • Suitable for secondary

Evidence key

Identifier Description
Positive There is evidence that this initiative type has a positive impact on student STEM engagement or achievement.
Mixed There is evidence that this initiative type has mixed impacts on student STEM engagement or achievement.
Negative There is evidence that this initiative type has a negative impact on student STEM engagement or achievement.
Unclear There is not enough clear evidence to draw a conclusion about the impact of this initiative type on student STEM engagement or achievement. This means further research is needed, but not that it doesn't work.

* The categories and age groups that apply to a given initiative type are noted at the top of the page containing information on that initiative type.

Initiative type Evidence Key Especially good for Be aware that
Excursions – take students out of the classroom for a different kind of experience Unclear
  • Sparking excitement and curiosity
  • Exposing students to real-world STEM environments
  • Excursions primarily aim to boost engagement, not directly improve achievement

Incursions – STEM professionals and industry representatives visit the classroom to motivate and inspire

  • Generating excitement and interest in STEM
  • Incursions primarily aim to boost engagement, not directly improve achievement
Competitions – engage students individually or in groups to solve problems and challenges Positive
  • Challenging high-achieving students
  • Competitions should focus on participation and learning, not just results
Residential programs – immerse students in an intensive STEM learning environment Unclear
  • Challenging high-achieving students in a particular field or group
  • Costs can be high
Extended real-world projects – challenge students to tackle a real-world problem using STEM, over an extended time period Mixed
  • Enhancing problem-solving skills
  • Developing collaboration and creativity
  • Implementation can be complex
Extracurricular activities –extend learning beyond school hours with groups and projects that may be run by schools or other organisations Positive
  • Creative STEM learning beyond the school curriculum
  • Tends to attract students already engaged in STEM or those whose parents are
Work experience – applies STEM learning in the real world, with STEM professionals to inspire and encourage career planning. Positive
  • Exposing students to real-life STEM careers
  • Requires some outreach and coordination with workplaces
  • Legal and regulatory requirements must be checked
Online professional learning – increase STEM teachers' knowledge and capacity through online courses, resources and experiences Positive
  • Reaching a high volume of teachers
  • Allowing teachers to learn at their own pace
  • May need to be complemented with face-to-face professional learning / collaboration with peers
Professional learning communities – teachers work together to improve STEM teaching and learning Positive
  • Supporting school-wide improvements to STEM teaching practices
  • Only as strong as the commitment of participating teachers
Gamification – enhance learning using gaming techniques such as progression, levels, storytelling and reward Mixed
  • Individualised learning at different ability levels
  • Can be a distraction if not well linked with learning objectives
Equipment – use of specialised equipment supports hands-on, inquiry-based STEM learning Unclear
  • Engaging, hands-on STEM learning in the classroom
  • Costs can be high
Teacher partnerships with STEM professionals – create relevance through collaboration between teachers and STEM professionals Positive
  • Boosting teacher confidence and knowledge
  • Exposing students to real-world STEM challenges
  • Important to clearly establish expectations early in the partnership

Parent engagement – get parents involved in their children's STEM education


  • Changing attitudes towards STEM
  • Most effective when sustained across multiple communication channels