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There are many reasons to start STEM education initiatives as early as possible. Early education intervention increases the chances of long-term impact for students.
Reasons to target this age group
- Students are developing self-belief in their ability as a STEM learner. It is important to foster confidence and self-belief early.
- Most students start forming their life aspirations in primary school. Research shows that students are likely to make decisions about career aspirations before they are 14.
- It’s the best time to reduce achievement gaps among different student groups.
- Positive early STEM experiences and exposure are important for later engagement and achievement.
Challenges in supporting this age group
- Some research suggests there may be concerns regarding confidence and capacity among some primary school teachers to teach science and maths.
- It can be difficult to deliver large-scale initiatives within primary schools because there are a high number of them, and they are generally smaller than secondary schools.
- There are mixed views about the relevance and usefulness of STEM in primary school.
- Parents are major influencers of student engagement and participation and may not know the relevance of STEM in primary school.
- Incorrect perceptions that primary children are too young to form career aspirations.
Want to know more?
- Professional Development for Teachers and School Leaders
- Opening Up Pathways: Engagement in Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) across the Primary-Secondary School Transition
- Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors
- Engaging students in STEM-related subjects. What does the research evidence say?
- Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).
Case study: Victorian Space Science Education Centre
The Victorian Space Science Education Centre hosts immersive, scenario-based excursions based on a range of space-related topics. In the Primary Expedition to the M.A.R.S. Base, students are issued with flight suits then watch a movie that flies them to Mars for a scientific mission. Once there, they engage in collaborative science and technology activities. Students gain confidence and inspiration from imagining themselves as adventurous scientists and technologists. All activities link to the curriculum, and teachers receive materials to help them teach related STEM content before and after the excursion. Approximately 13,000 primary and secondary students visit the centre each year.