Regional STEM Education Conference 2016

Event Details

The second annual Regional STEM Education Conference (#ReSTEMEd16) was hosted at Wodonga Senior Secondary College on Wednesday December 7, 2016.

This conference was targeted at teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in regional Australia. As it is hosted in Wodonga the key audience is those in the North East of Victoria and the Southern Riverina of New South Wales.

The aim of this event was to provide high-quality professional development and networking focussed on the individual disciplines of science, technology, engineering, mathematics as well as their incorporation into integrated STEM learning from Foundation to Year 12.

Thanks to our sponsors for their support of this event.


Session details, resources and a photo gallery are archived below.

Program & Resources

8.30am Registration and Tea & Coffee

9.00am Welcome

9.10am Keynote

Mindful Learning (Dr Craig Hassed, Monash University)
Mindfulness is both a form of meditation and a way of living that involves engaging attention in the present moment in an open, curious and accepting way. It is life’s most important life-skill in that it underpins other abilities including our ability to learn, communicate, empathise and remember. It is also vital for our ability to maintain good mental and physical health. This keynote address will explore the science, philosophy and practice of mindfulness with a particular emphasis on its role in teaching and learning.

10.10am Morning Tea

Morning Tea provided by LaTrobe University

10.40am Session A

A1 STEM and Science in the Victorian Curriculum from F to 10 (Maria James, VCAA)

This session will explore the possibilities for embracing STEM within the Science area of the Victorian Curriculum.

A2 Mathematics and Science Outreach for the Gifted (Stephen Alderton, Nossal High School)

This session focuses on strategies to cater for gifted and talented primary students in maths and science, including: implementation of an engaging online learning program to extended the learning of Year 5 and 6 students; and how to facilitate a peer mentoring program that includes face-to-face and online contact. The program has a broad scope and will surely have something of interest for everyone!

A3 Coding for Absolute Beginners (Valerie Ratcliff, Victory Lutheran College)

Writing code has been identified as a key skill for young people entering the workforce, and digital literacy skills are more integral to the Australian Curriculum.  Our students are digital natives, yet we as teachers can find coding a daunting enterprise.  Come and learn the basics of computational thinking, as well as locating some key areas where you might integrate coding into your classroom curriculum, and identify some good resources for learning to code.

A4 STEM: The science bit doesn’t mean just Physics! (Doug Bail, Cider House Tech)
Quality STEM activities that run across not only physical but also the life sciences are a must if STEM is to be properly integrated into real curriculum as a truly engaging and valuable approach to learning. This session will introduce techniques and approaches based on new PASCO STEM modules. Each module:
is guided by national standards; incorporates a problem-based learning approach, emphasising inquiry; 
incorporates both independent and collaborative work; includes both formative and summative assessments; features an engineering design challenge as the culminating project.  
Participants will be given electronic copies of the material covered for use in their schools and cover activities across Chemistry, Biology and Physics that can be incorporated into project based STEM units. PASCO equipment advantageous but not compulsory. Options will be discussed.

11.25am Session changeover break

11.30am Session B

B1 VCE Biology in 2017 (Maria James, VCAA)

This workshop session will focus on the implementation of the new study design for Year 12 in 2017.

B2 Could VEX robotics competitions be a perfect STEM program for your school? (Michael Rogers, Wodonga Middle Years College)

In the VEX Competitions teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams from around the world in a game-based engineering challenge. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test on the playing field as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communications, and more. Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state, and national levels; local champions go on to compete against the best in the world at VEX Worlds each April in the US!

In this session, I’ll share with you my resent five week crash course in building a robot to compete against the best in the country at this year’s Australian national competition in Wangaratta. Come along for the ride as a team of seven enthusiastic year 8’s and I, all with zero robot building experience, turn a box of sensors, switches, motors and sheet metal rails into a functioning remote controlled robot. Along the way I’ll show you how VEX EDR offers students a rich and exciting platform to immerse themselves in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through the fun of building robots and how your school can be part of that fun while helping to build a new regional competition here.

B3 Implementing Computer-Based Exams for VCE Mathematical Methods (Rohan Barry and Terri Gregotski, Wodonga Senior Secondary College)

Wodonga Senior Secondary College Methods students, for the first time ever, will sit Exam 2 on computer in 2016. No, not just computations – the entire exam is to be done on screen! Come and discover teaching with Mathematica – how it works, how we use it as a teaching and assessment tool, what it changed in our classrooms and what stayed the same. We’ll take you on a whistle-stop tour of our journey, but then it’s over to you. Note: Mathematica will be installed on the desktops in your session. Just bring yourself!

12.15pm Lunch and Displays

Lunch will be provided


Cider House Tech

1.15pm Session C

C1 VCE Chemistry in 2017 (Maria James, VCAA)

This workshop session will focus on the implementation of the new study design for Year 12 in 2017.

C2 Makey Makey and Scratch in Upper Primary (Brendan Freeman, Baranduda Primary)

An introductory and hands on session using MIT Scratch and Makey Makey boards to look at the upper primary curriculum areas of Science, Maths and Digital Technology. Makey Makey boards rely on the electrical circuits to send commands to computers. Scratch uses coordinates and degrees to move elements around the screen and so much more. Bring them together and write the necessary code and you can control an animated robot arm, make your own game controller, set up an interactive display or create a fruit piano.

C3 Team-Based Learning… more than group work! (Rob Sbaglia & Jill Clapham, Crusoe College) 

Traditionally, teaching collaborative skills to students has focused on the group project. Here we present an alternative that is becoming prevalent in tertiary education around the world, known as Team Based Learning. TBL has been trialled at Crusoe College in Year 8 Mathematics, but could be applied to any subject that requires analysis, critiquing information and applying decision making. Participants will be guided through the principles of TBL with an opportunity to trial a part of the process (a mobile-enabled device will come in handy for this purpose).

C4 eTextiles and Wearable Technologies (Britt Gow, Hawkesdale P-12 College)

eTextiles are innovative textile materials that incorporate conductive fibres or digital elements into the design. It can involve the use conductive thread, fabric, tape and/or paint to connect computer components such as a micro-controller, LEDs, sensors and batteries. In this session, participants will make an electronic broach to showcase how sewing and digital electronics can bring students into the maker movement and explore new materials.

C5 Interactive Notebooks in Science (Sarah Laidlaw, Wodonga Middle Years College)

2.00pm Session changeover break

2.05pm Session D

D1 VCE Physics in 2017 (Maria James, VCAA)

This workshop session will focus on the implementation of the new study design for Year 12 in 2017.

D2 Slime Stories: Guided Writing in Science (Geoff Edney, Tallangatta Secondary College)

Slime moulds are an ideal organism for using practical classes to improve students writing abilities. A series of practicals are used to take students through the process of writing practical reports, the three practicals are used first for modelled writing, then guided writing and lastly for students to do their own writing. Slime moulds can also easily be adapted to experimental design with students being able to create a number of different experiments based on current scientific research. Can your students develop a maze and have slime moulds ‘learn’ the maze? Could your students design an experiment that shows slime moulds ability to remember? There are a lot of current research papers about slime moulds that can be used with the students exposing them to how science is done, and written about, in the real world. Slime moulds can be used in discussions about classification/taxonomy; philosophy can be explored with the slime moulds ability to ‘learn’, despite being a single-celled organism.This convenient, adaptive organism can easily be reproduced and maintained in the lab; and students’ experiments can generally be contained inside a petri dish.

D3 Paper Circuitry (Valerie Ratcliff, Victory Lutheran College)

What if you could engage your students in a hands-on circuitry activity that is open-ended, creative, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg in resources?  Paper circuitry involves copper ‘slug’ tape, mini LED’s and coin cell batteries, and yet offers limitless creative opportunities.  Make your own light-up greeting card in this fun hands-on workshop, and discover a completely new, fresh and original way to look at teaching circuits.

2.50pm Afternoon Tea

3.15pm Session E

E1 VCE Psychology in 2017 (Maria James, VCAA)

This workshop session will focus on the implementation of the new study design for Year 12 in 2017.

E2 Personalising Mathematics (Rob Sbaglia, Crusoe College) 

Robert will describe how his school has delivered a school-wide Mathematics program that uses team teaching, open-plan learning and ICT to provide students with an entirely personalised experience of the Victorian Mathematics Curriculum. In addition to providing students with teaching at the students’ point of need, the IGNITE Mathematics course also provides students the opportunity to be creative, self-directed learners whilst maintaining the rigour necessary for academic success. The course was recognised through the award of “Victorian Education Excellence Awards Secondary Teacher of the Year” to its main instigator, Robert Sbaglia, in 2015.

E3 A Simple Approach to Planning STEM Activities (Michael Rosenbrock, Wodonga Senior Secondary College)

This session will focus on the use of a simple planning template to take ideas and inspiration and turn them into STEM activities that follow a structured process, are linked to the curriculum and include relevant supporting instruction and meaningful assessment.

E4 Effectiveness of eMentoring for middle years students in science and mathematics (Ana Garcia Melgar and Joanna Oreo, LaTrobe University)

Universities play a key role as members of the STEM industry. They have a wealth of scientific resources, instrumentation, consumables and expert knowledge, and can use these to benefit schools. More importantly, universities have a pool of undergraduate students, who can effectively be used as role models and peer mentors for aspiring STEM students.

Peer mentoring programs can be an effective strategy to increase student learning and engagement in science and mathematics. In this presentation, we discuss the various STEM outreach activities offered by La Trobe University, in particular, the In2science eMentoring program – an online peer mentoring program that matches university students with secondary school students in regional areas. We report on the learning principles that underpin mentoring, how peer mentoring can be incorporated into STEM classes, and how these programs can be employed to improve achievement, motivation, and interest in STEM.

4.00pm Plenary

4.15pm Conference close and networking gathering


Some visual highlights of the conference.