New STEM grants for schools

New funding has recently been announced by the Australian Government under the Inspiring Australia initiative to help foster STEM innovation in schools. If you have students intending to participate in STEM events and competitions, including those held overseas, take a look at the program guidelines. Funding will also soon be announced to support Maker Projects in schools.

The Sponsorship Grants for Student Science Engagement and International Competition package is worth $4 million available over 4 years ($1 million each year). This program aims to support young Australians to develop skills and potential career opportunities in a field of STEM by participating in conferences, competitions and other STEM-related events.

The grants are also intended to support Australian students under the age of 18 to participate in significant STEM related activities, including for example, to pitch an innovation initiative to an entrepreneur.

Schools can apply for funds of $1,000 to $20,000 towards student participation in STEM engagement activities including in international events and competitions that take place in Australia or overseas. The maximum grant amount available is based on funds allocation of $5,000 per student and grants for over $10,000, must be matched with cash and/or in-kind contributions towards the total cost of attending a relevant event.

Maker Projects

The Maker Projects grants aim to encourage experimentation and tinkering in schools to foster creativity and inquiry based learning. The idea is to create spaces where students can apply their STEM knowledge, develop entrepreneurial skills and gain experience in working with emerging and advancing technologies. There is also a desire to create new STEM-related events and education activities delivered in partnership with industry for young people under 18 years of age.

Maker Projects are intended to allow students to gain practical knowledge and skills in design, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship while encouraging students to pursue STEM disciplines in their study and work. Funding of up to $5,000 will be available towards the establishment of Maker Spaces in primary and secondary schools, with $3.2 million over 4 years available.

Australian teachers should familiarise themselves with the guidelines now and start planning what kind of place you may be able to create at your school! That way you will be ready to apply once the funding is announced.

The idea is to create a space where students and teachers can come together and tinker across disciplines to make things, learn to use materials and/or technology and develop projects and solve problems. Maker spaces are based on the principle of learning by doing in novel and fun ways. They are typically used for a range of activities and have changing and flexible educational goals.

Typical equipment you might find in a contemporary maker space include

  • 3D printers
  • physical computing using programs like Arduino, MaKey MaKey and Raspberry Pi
  • Lego and robotics
  • Woodwork and tools
  • Art materials.

So how might your students work in groups to explore technology in informal ways as they also explore concepts like design thinking and problem solving? For ideas on how to get started, visit Maker Spaces Australia