STELR (Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance) is a national initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).
ATSE is an independent body of more than 800 Australian scientists and engineers seeking to enhance Australia’s prosperity through technological innovation.
In the video below, taken at STELR's 500th school celebration, STELR architect, Alan Finkel, explains the rationale behind STELR.
The primary aim of STELR is to address the problem of low participation rates in STEM subjects at the upper secondary school level by relating these subjects to highly relevant issues affecting all students.
One major reason for these low participation rates is that students do not perceive and appreciate the relevance of science in their lives, despite being surrounded by science and technology.
STELR taps into the high level of concern that the majority of students have about global warming and climate change. By basing the STELR modules around sustainable energy technologies, students see the STELR activities as being highly relevant to their lives.
Secondary aims of the project are to:
- Raise awareness of opportunities in technology-related careers
- Increase the number of students choosing science and engineering careers to address the shortage of science and engineering graduates
- Improve the quality of science classroom teaching practice
- Improve the level of science literacy and understanding in the community.
STELR is currently running in more than 650 schools from all Australian states and territories and in New Zealand with 100,000 students and over 1,500 teachers involved each year.
The initial module of the STELR science education program is themed on Renewable Energy. This taps into the high level of concern students have about global warming and climate change. Purpose-built equipment allows students to undertake both guided and open ended research into solar and wind electricity generation while learning about electric circuits and energy transfer and transformation.
Modified versions of the Renewable Energy Module are now available including the Wind Energy Module and the Electricity and Energy Module. A Sustainable Housing Module including a set of purpose-designed equipment is now for sale. New modules in development include Water for the 21st Century and Carbon Dioxide - Friend or Foe?
STELR is taught within the curriculum so that all students at the year level participate in the program, not just selected students.
STELR incorporates contemporary teaching and learning practices, in particular an inquiry-based learning approach that engages and challenges students and teachers. Teachers are fully supported through an initial professional development program and follow-up assistance.
Teacher evaluation of the program shows that the program has an overall positive effect on students’ participation and engagement in learning science and on their perception of the relevance of science in their lives. (See testimonials)