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Bringing STEM to life

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics thrive in HRS classrooms

NEWS 27 Nov 2023

Year 8 students at Haileybury Rendall School have an opportunity to become eagle-eyed crime scene investigators and detectives as they study and examine a fake crime scene. Uncovering clues as to what happened and how using their scientific knowledge is part of the popular Forensic Science elective on offer at HRS.

It’s also just one way in which HRS is encouraging students to immerse themselves in STEM subjects.

Science is taught in well-equipped laboratories at the school from Year 5 and by the time students reach the Senior School and start VCE they can choose to study Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology.

“The number of students enrolled in these subjects has increased over the past three years,” says Linda Hartskeerl, Head of Science (VCE Coordinator).

Across year levels, students can also take part in a broad range of activities to keep alive their interest in STEM subjects.

“We have a Junior School Science Club that runs after school and we organise Science homework help days,” says Leisha Skilton, Science Teacher and Year 12 Coordinator.

Students can take part in the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s Titration Competition which is designed to encourage secondary student who enjoy Chemistry to develop their skills and understanding. Students can conduct an experiment in a laboratory environment at a local university and may then compete at a national level.

“Two of our students were individual gold medallists this year,” says Leisha.

“We also have the Year 6 Sally Bruen Science Competition, lunchtime activities during Science Week and STEM features in our inaugural Wellbeing Week with students problem-solving in teams.”

Increasing opportunities for students to fall in love with science, in 2024 HRS plans to find ways for students to become more involved in collecting citizen science data and will offer a wider range of lunchtime and afterschool STEM activities.

“The Charles Darwin University Experience is a national program open to Year 9 students and is designed to open their eyes to the career, study and employment opportunities available to them in the Northern Territory that are related to STEM,” says Linda.

“By taking part, students gain awareness of the steps they need to take now and in their senior years to set themselves up as successful young adults. The program is known for its interactive learning experiences and HRS usually sends six to eight students each year.”
Linda Hartskeerl, Head of Science (VCE Coordinator)

The Australian Brain Bee Challenge is also an option for Year 10 students to learn about the brain and research and careers in neuroscience. The last two winners of the NT Brain Bee Challenge have been HRS students.

This year, HRS students also competed in the Tournament of the Minds competition where students work in a team to solve a challenge. The challenge is given to students at the beginning of Term 3 and they have six weeks to come up with a solution.

STEM is one of the challenge areas that students can choose, explains Lisa Doyle, Head of Junior School. The STEM challenge team from the HRS Junior School won the event in the Northern Territory and then represented their school and territory in the finals.

Lisa and colleague Billy Kalaf run a Wednesday afternoon club to help students develop their critical and creative thinking skills as well as their teamwork skills.

“The club runs all year round but during the six weeks of the challenge the students work extremely hard – during recess, lunches and during some weekends,” says Lisa.

“Watching the students work together, seeing the Senior and Junior School students interact and encourage each other and seeing the confidence grow in the students as they overcome obstacles is very rewarding.”
Lisa Doyle, Head of Junior School

The focus on STEM continues to be one of the priorities at HRS.

“STEM is all around us – in tiny plants and animals to being part of the larger ecosystems and communities that we are part of in modern society,” says Leisha, explaining the importance of students being interested in STEM subjects.

“Through students working together collaboratively to solve problems and critically analyse information, we hope they will develop into lifelong learners who appreciate the world around them and work together to improve outcomes for everyone.”