Students at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls have been learning about Arduino computer coding, which is used to create and control electronic devices, from local IT expert Sheree Pudney.
Ms Pudney volunteers her time through CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in Schools program, designed to give students an insight into real-world careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Students Miette Egerton-Warburton, 12, and Elizabeth Townsley, 11, used these lessons to solve a challenge some music teachers face – how to communicate to hearing impaired students how hard to strike the drums – by using coding to create a computer-controlled aid for teachers.
The ‘Hearing Impaired LED’ device lights up with LED bulbs to show students, visually, whether they are striking the drums accurately, too hard, or too soft, and won the team second place in the national Young ICT Explorers awards, run by SAP recently.
CSIRO Director for Education and Outreach, Ruth Carr said this application of creativity and technology has real benefits to society and illustrates the importance of initiatives to boost STEM education.
“As Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO is working to solve the country’s greatest challenges, so we are proud to facilitate a program that helps to inspire the next generation of problem solvers," Ms Carr said.
“Women are underrepresented in STEM industries. Changing this starts with having more visible, female STEM role models, and highlighting the learning and career pathways that are open to students."
St Hilda’s Director of Discovery, Danelle Cross said that authentic learning encourages students to learn through hands-on, collaborative and action-based learning projects and address real problems relevant to students' lives.
“Authentic learning opportunities are vital in schools, as real projects with purpose and meaning beyond the classroom equal more engaged students and ultimately, a future ready workforce,” Ms Cross said.
Sheree Pudney is one of over 1200 STEM professionals nationwide who has volunteered for the CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools program, which is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
Ms Pudney has helped inspire approximately 350 students to code over her five years at St Hilda’s and finds it rewarding to contribute to students’ learning.
“Volunteering for the program is an opportunity to teach students, to show them they can do something that they didn't think they could, and to have girls enjoy and achieve in STEM activities. I just love hearing the girls yell out 'it works!' and see the look of amazement on their faces,” said Ms Pudney.
“I'm constantly amazed at the incredible ideas the students come up with. They are so enthusiastic, totally engaged, and inquisitive. They’re brimming with ideas for solving problems, they work well together, and are just so excited and proud of their work.”
CSIRO is Australia’s national science agency and innovation catalyst. We solve the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. Our collaborative research turns science into solutions for food security and quality; clean energy and resources; health and wellbeing; resilient and valuable environments; innovative industries; and a secure Australia and region.
About CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in Schools
CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in Schools program pairs volunteers from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industries or with primary and secondary teachers to bring real-world STEM into the classroom.
Run by CSIRO since 2007, it is the largest volunteer program for STEM professionals and educators in the country. The program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
See the STEM Professionals in Schools website for more information: www.csiro.au/STEM-Professionals-in-Schools.
About St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls
With a history dating back from 1896, St Hilda’s has led girls’ education in Western Australia for over 125 years. Today, we have over 1100 students enrolled, including boys in the Early Learning Centre, and 120 boarders.
Three beautiful campuses in Perth and Pemberton provide our students with state-of-the-art learning environments, both in and out of the classroom. St Hilda’s provides girls with opportunities beyond the standard curriculum and a vast array of cocurricular activities offer girls the opportunity to find their passion and shine.
Our vision is to spark extraordinary futures for our students by inspiring inventive and adaptive thinkers with a curiosity for learning.
For more information visit www.sthildas.wa.edu.au