Year 4 students are learning how to fly drones and code Ozbots, while Year 3 students imagine new missions for NASA’s Mars Rovers, thanks to an innovative teacher on the Gold Coast. Coomera Anglican College Technology and STEM Specialist Joel Davis creates highly anticipated STEM Days, which involves an entire year level in Years Prep to Six. Students are involved in hands-on activities which encourage them to innovate, take risks and engage in experiential learning. Joel works hard to ensure that students are able to make connections from their STEM learnings to other areas of the curriculum.
“I am a strong believer in STEM not being seen as an ‘hour a week’ standalone activity or twenty-minute craft session, rather it needs to be a sequence of authentic learning experiences that are linked to a big idea or real world situation encouraging students to innovate, embrace collaboration, take risks, persist through problem solving and work through the creative process,” Joel says. Joel also runs an after-school STEM club during the school year and coaches teacher colleagues, including in the use of Digital and Design Technologies. “It is through the combination of the Design and Digital Technologies curriculum that students develop an impressive set of skills that enables them to undertake relevant real-word inquiry-based projects and develop a skillset suitable for the 21st century,” Joel says. He has been utilising the college’s recently opened “Pod”, which houses collaborative learning spaces, various departments and the library, as well as his Makerspace. The pod also includes an Imaginarium—a 360-degree projector facility, which is a one-of-its-kind in Australia—and Joel is building networks outside of the college to assist in the technology’s continual development. Joel is constantly looking to learn while reflecting and refining his programs, strategically attending education and technology conferences to research what pedagogies and devices are driving student engagement, learning and innovation. His expertise and knowledge are valued both within and outside the college. Congratulations Joel on your nomination.