In 2013 Regional Development Australia Hunter’s ME Program in collaboration with local industry and STEM teachers at Maitland Grossmann High School developed the iSTEM curriculum. iSTEM is a student centred subject for students in Years 9 and 10 that delivers Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in an integrated way.
iSTEM is a School Developed Board Endorsed Course (SDBEC) which has been approved by the NSW Education Standards Authority and forms part of a student’s academic record in NSW. Incorporating mechatronics, aerodynamics, engineering, 3D CAD/CAM, aerospace and motion modules, iSTEM presents maths and sciences to students in ways that challenge not only their understanding of these key subjects but also their ability to manage projects and work in teams. iSTEM was created in the hunter region in direct response to industry’s urgent demand for young people qualified in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Initially taught in seven leading hunter region high schools, the ME Program’s iSTEM course has been so successful that in 2017 it has been rolled out to over 135 schools across NSW. Since its inception in 2013 the number of schools endorsed has doubled each year and the number of female students enrolled continues to be greater than other traditional male dominated elective subjects offered in NSW schools.
BAE Systems, Ampcontrol and Varley Group are among 50 ME Program industry partners who were integral to the formation and implementation of the iSTEM syllabus. This elective subject provides students with curriculum to support the most up to date technologies including 3D printers, virtual reality, drones, robotics and a range of intelligent systems. It engages students in problem based learning and involves them in real ‘on-the-job’ situations.