HEPPP Project Report:
Early Engagement – Tertiary Success: Sustainability meets Statistics and STEM
August 6-17, 2017
Prof Tim Roberts and A/Prof Peter Howley have taken Sustainability, Statistics and STEM to rural and remote communities, travelling the NSW countryside for a fortnight visiting schools and running teacher workshops, as part of their equity-oriented HEPPP grant project
“Early Engagement – Tertiary Success: Sustainability meets Statistics and STEM”
(won along with A/Prof Maree Gruppetta, Wollotuka Institute).
The project aimed to engage students and teachers with innovative and industry-oriented practice, and assist those in low SES, remote and rural regions connect with, aspire to, and succeed in, higher education.
The team delivered activities targeted at addressing barriers to higher education success, namely an understanding of science and statistics.
Electric vehicles, mushroom kits, designing clinical trials for new medicines, modelling human features in forensic anthropology and reflections about pizza were but some of the activities and discussions within this cross-disciplinary outreach in environmental sustainability (renewable energies), statistics and STEM.
Research questionnaires were used (before and after our engagement) to assess changes in teachers’ and students’ interests, attitudes, knowledge and aspirations towards higher education and self-perceived ability to make sustainability changes in their schools and local areas.
The research team visited Dubbo, Broken Hill, Griffith and Orange, and promoted the National Schools Poster Competition, Electric Vehicles and other aspects of sustainability as examples of potential investigations for student projects, along with the importance of coding, engineering and technology, the Science and Engineering Challenge and the UoN’s Ma-Morley scholarships .
The Road Trip engaged 85 teachers from 16 schools and 408 students from 8 schools across 4 NSW locations. It was an exhilarating experience.
Teachers and students enthusiastically learnt about the practice of Statistics and Environmental Sustainability, bringing industry engagement to schools and informing schools about the practical application and careers in Statistics and Environmental Sustainability.
The team was able to share pathways to University; teachers and students participated in developing their own investigations, engaging with and even building their own electric vehicles from kits.
Joining Tim and Peter were Latha Lewis (Project Officer, Tom Farrell Institute) and Korbinian Kraus – an undergraduate student (Management of Renewable Energy) from Germany who arrived in Australia two days before heading off on the roadshow, as part of his work-integrated learning experience. Korbinian is visiting the TFI as an intern for one semester – a period of six months, and will be working with Tim, Peter and the Tom Farrell Team.
The research surrounding this work will inform STEM Education and Outreach at state and national levels.