How a simple competition created deep STEM engagement

Paul Mead
Paul Mead
08 Nov 2021
STEM Engagement

STEM Engagement

An example of STEM Engagement. Teachers like Stewart often go over and above to ensure all the students are able to grow and excel to levels others would not think are possible.

When we design a program, we are hoping that it will provide teachers with the ability to engage the broad diversity of students that exist within their classroom. Our Map My School program has three different levels of complexity, all designed around the same project – to map the amount of shade (natural and human made) on their school campus. This caters for Grades 1 – 8+.

Stewart Allen from Flagstaff Hill Primary School demonstrated in our 2021 Map My School competition how passionate teachers make a huge difference in the lives of their students. The story below is one that will leave a lump in your throat!

Stewart’s Year 5 class took part in the competition, mapping the shade in their school. One of the students in the class, Evan, has additional learning needs. Stewart adjusted the project to suit Evan’s needs with phenomenal results. Stewart describes more here:

“Evan is supported by a SSO to facilitate functional communication enabling him to communicate and further explore and interact with adults and peers within his learning environment.”

“I develop a personalised learning plan to encourage participation and engagement with a particular focus on developing Evan’s ability to initiate and attempt tasks with independence. He requires significant support for appropriate social interaction and self-management skills, and to engage in successful play with his peers.”

“He really engaged in this topic and task immediately with his learning support staff member. This task enabled Evan to interact with other students on the same level of maths and have discussions at year level expectations. This has enabled his SSO to make connections with Numeracy at his assessed level, of Year 1 / 2. This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to explore so many different concepts of maths – fractions, decimals, data, measurement, in addition to HASS / Geography.”

When we saw the efforts of both Stewart and Evan, our Map My School judges decided to award a judge’s prize to Evan, and he was sent a Tello drone as a prize. Here is what happened when it arrived.

“We were in lockdown (South Australia) when the news was delivered! A huge applause erupted on announcing Evan as a winner. Evan was so pleased. I could hardly contain the online cheers from his classmates.”

“When we got back to school, we made a special presentation in class to Evan, presenting the drone. Again, there was huge applause, and the class was pretty excited!”

“Evan has begun to choose 4 people each day to test fly the drone in our gym during lunch breaks. This is a huge opportunity for him to consolidate connections within our class and demonstrate his skills. He had a test flight around our class and into the next – in controlled classroom air space of course!!”

“Evan really deserves it for his efforts on this project, however, more importantly the opportunities the drone now brings to our class for him is immense. Just seeing his face today was priceless. I know this will be a significant step for his closer connections with our class socially and increase his self-confidence.”

Since speaking with Stewart, we have found out that Evan is doing amazing things. He has a group of students around him practicing flying the drone (Evan is the Flight Commander and his four co-pilots are his Wing Commanders). They are working on developing a flying challenge for the rest of the students in the class. Stewart has also mentioned how Evan is more confident and engaged in his work, and in his interactions with his peers in the classroom and playground.

We have provided Stewart with access to our She Maps Membership to help him with additional teaching resources to keep the learning going. We have also lined up a time to call Evan and his Wing Commanders to give them some tips for flying!

Over the last two years in particular, parents have come to recognise the amazing commitment that our teachers have to their children’s development. Teachers like Stewart often go over and above, to make sure that all the students in their classroom are not only taught appropriately, but are able to grow and excel to levels others would not think are possible.

To Stewart, and other teachers who are catering for the diversity in their classrooms – thank you!

We also acknowledge The Surveyors’ Trust who have provided valuable financial assistance to bring the Map My School program to teachers around Australia. 

If you enjoyed this article, then you might want to read our Integrating the How Cool is Your Schools Competition into an authentic STEM program or for inspiration on lessons with drones then we recommend you read  Drones, GIS and Bushfire Recovery  

About She Maps.

She Maps is Australia’s leading expert in drone and geospatial education. 

She Maps assist schools with the purchasing of drones, school-industry created drone and geospatial teaching resources and highly supportive teacher professional development.

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She Maps is a CASA approved commercial operator to fly microdrones indoors with students and teachers. CASA holds commercial operators, to a higher standard than recreational users and educators. This means that She Maps has been assessed by CASA as having rigorous training and risk mitigation procedures in place.

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