An innovative professional learning program will see 70 Australian teachers come together with scientists this week in Canberra to further their knowledge and empower their teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

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The STEM X Academy is a five-day residential professional learning program for primary and secondary teachers of science developed in partnership by Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) to address the national need for improving teacher and student STEM skills and content knowledge.

"No one leaves the STEM X Academy without being changed" said Jared Wilkins, Questacon Senior Manager Learning. "The participants are challenged to be hands-on, learn by doing and then use their new knowledge and skills to create engaging new lessons."

The program offers a different approach to teacher professional learning, by partnering teachers with expert researchers and skilled educators from Questacon and CSIRO to collaborate on projects across the five days. Instead of providing teachers with a set package of resources to use in the classroom, this approach helps teachers to acquire the skills and confidence to design, develop and implement their own teaching resources, empowering them to turn their classroom into places of inquiry and discovery each schooling year.

Mary Mulcahy, Director of CSIRO Education and Outreach said "By partnering teachers with our scientists and STEM education experts, we're enabling them to better understand the world of science today, and develop teaching tools that can equip their students with the critical skill-sets that will be needed for jobs of the future."

Participants have been selected from across Australia, representing each state and territory including rural and remote schools where teacher professional development is difficult to access. The program brings together both experienced and early career teachers creating a national professional network that endures.

"The Australian Science Teachers Association sees the provision of high quality professional learning as an essential ingredient to the continued development of teachers", said ASTA President, Geoff Quinton. "The fact that the STEM X Academy received nearly 400 applications for only 70 places, to a program held right in the middle of the summer holidays, demonstrates not only the high regard for CSIRO, Questacon and ASTA programs but also the willingness of teachers to give up their time to improve their practice".

While the program is focussed on professional learning activities, the event also showcases Canberra as a city of science and technology. The teachers will undertake field trips to research organisations including Geoscience Australia, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Questacon and Parliament House.

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Ashleigh Fortington

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Vic Dobos

CEO, ASTA

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