Collaborative education to address STEM skill shortages

The Beacon Foundation is addressing the STEM skills gap in the next generation by connecting teachers with practicing engineers to create lesson plans based on real word engineering activities.
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Collaborative education to address STEM skill shortages

Image: Origin Energy staff working with teachers to create a Business Blackboard lesson.

Sponsored editorial piece written by The Beacon Foundation, Principal Partner of Engineers Australia, Tasmania Division.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills are fast becoming the 21st century’s most sought after for success in the workforce. Yet current trends in education show students are disengaging from these subjects at an alarming rate. 

There is evidence to indicate that providing real world relevance to these subjects can assist in reigniting an interest in STEM. The Beacon Foundation has created the Business Blackboards program to address this exact issue.

Business Blackboards is a collaborative approach to education with co-designed and co-delivered lesson plans. These lesson plans are created in collaboration between industry and teachers to demonstrate the link of authentic industry practice to the school curriculum. For example, engineering or maths in secondary schools across the country, can be co-delivered by engineers, with the teachers beside them drawing out the curriculum knowledge of the topics.

Hosting these lessons challenge the industry representatives, who have to present what they do on a daily basis whilst engaging a young audience.

The program also includes hands on activities for the students, for example a mechanical engineer demonstrating the algebra required to run a big truck, while getting the students to work through some basic hydraulics on a truck. Or having a civil engineer take the students out onto a building construction site to show the students the maths and engineering fundamentals required to lay the foundations of a building and calculate current loads and parameters.

Students who have participated in the program now see how STEM careers could play a role in their future. A teacher involved in the program shared their experience from a recent Business Blackboard with an engineering firm:

“One of the girls approached me after the session and asked if she could be an engineer, I replied yes of course. The student told me she had never thought about it before today.”

There has been an increase in the participation rate in STEM subjects in schools that have taken part in the program. Currently there is over 100 Business Blackboard lessons available to schools engaged with The Beacon Foundation through the online learning platform, eBeacon.

Get involved

The Beacon Foundation is always looking for practicing engineers and organisations to get involved in the program. For further information, contact:

Phone: (03) 6234 4155
Email: [email protected]