STEM Outreach in Northern Queensland: The Importance of Providing Professional Development and Networking Opportunities to Educators

Donnalee B Taylor, Brenda Govan

Abstract


Teachers play a significant role as advocates for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions and through their work students are encouraged and enabled to progress to STEM related fields in higher education. In 2014, a multi-disciplinary team of tertiary educators provided professional development, capacity-building and networking experiences for STEM secondary educators in regional Northern Queensland. This Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) funded outreach initiative focused on two key areas of the HEPPP strategic priorities of professional development; engagement and capacity building, to support the teachers in delivering science and science-related curriculum concepts. Hurdles arose between the professional development objectives and the situation of secondary schools in rural and remote regions experiencing social and economic challenges, seeking to leverage opportunities for enrichment and engagement with STEM initiatives and expertise. This paper is a retrospective account of the initiative’s successes and challenges, paying particular attention to the complexities in STEM education in rural-remote locations and the importance of capacity building through networking opportunities.

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