The STELR* Project is a national secondary school science education initiative of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). This is an association of professional men and women who are elected as Fellows of the Academy on the basis of their achievement in the application of science, technology and engineering to Australian life.

The STELR Program is a hands-on, inquiry-based, in-curriculum program designed for Year 9 or Year 10 students, on the theme of global warming and renewable energy. A range of directed and student-designed practical investigations are an integral part of the program.

STELR operates within the curriculum so that all students at the year level participate in the program, not just selected students. It is our aspiration that ultimately all Australian students, including students who live in remote areas, will have the opportunity to participate in the STELR program.

*STELR is the acronym for 'Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance'.

STELR and the Australian Curriculum: Science

STELR is distinctive amongst state and national programs in that it is an excellent vehicle for fulfilling the aims of the Australian Curriculum: Science, published December 2010. It exemplifies an inquiry-based teaching approach and the development of a coherent learning program in which all three content strands – Science Inquiry Skills, Science as a Human Endeavour and Science Understanding – and the cross-curriculum aspects are all interwoven. STELR gives equal importance to, and achieves an ideal balance between, the three content strands.

In addition, through the study of global warming and the investigation of renewable energy resources, STELR demonstrates how the unifying ideas of sustainability, energy, evidence, models, explanations and theories can be developed. Moreover, STELR fosters the eight general capabilities considered to be inherent in science, while the knowledge and skills learned in other areas such as English and mathematics, technology and design are developed throughout.

What curriculum programs does STELR offer?

To meet the varying needs of different schools across Australia, STELR now provides teachers with the choice of three different curricula, each with their own set of resources.

Schools need to select which of these three sets of student and teacher resources are best suited to their needs.

1 The STELR Core Curriculum

This is a 6-10 week program designed for Year 9 students. The emphasis in this program is on the physical sciences.

To view the STELR Core Program Chart, click here.

To view the STELR Core Curriculum Chart, click here.

2 The STELR Integrated Curriculum

This is a 10-12 week program designed for Year 9 students, although it also is very suitable for Year 10 students. In this curriculum, physical and chemical sciences are interwoven. Aspects of earth and space sciences and biological sciences are also included.

Note: Many of the experiments on electrical circuits, wind turbines and solar cells in this curriculum are the same as those in the core curriculum. However, this program includes a greater range of experiments and is more demanding than the core program.

To view the STELR Integrated Program Chart, click here.

To view the STELR Integrated Curriculum Chart, click here.

3 The STELR Chemistry Curriculum

This is a 5-6 week chemistry program designed for Year 9 or Year 10 students. It is very suitable for Year 10 students who completed the STELR physical sciences program in the previous year.

To view the STELR Chemistry Program Chart, click here.

To view the STELR Chemistry Curriculum Chart, click here.

What resources are available to schools?

The resources provided for each of the three STELR curricula include a digital copy of the student booklet and the corresponding teacher guide. The digital copies of these six booklets are in both Word and pdf formats. Teachers can adapt the materials for the curriculum they select to suit their students. Digital copies of a number of PowerPoint presentations are also provided. These are available free-of-charge.

Full colour hard copies of the student booklet and the accompanying teacher guide for the STELR Core Curriculum are also provided to participating schools.

These materials are fully supported by our dedicated website. The website provides a range of additional information for students and teachers, including case studies on a range of energy resources, career profiles, and background information. It also will provide teachers from participating schools with on-line test item banks.

Schools that have been selected for the STELR Project also received specially designed equipment for the physical sciences experiments. A number of these schools are also involved in trialling some specialised chemistry equipment. However, most of the chemistry experiments do not require specialised equipment. Contact the STELR Project Manager for purchasing details.

This is the STELR testing station, which is used in all of the experiments on model solar cells and wind turbines.

For details about the STELR equipment pack, click here.

This is the micro-distillation set (known as a Combo-Still) that teachers may wish to use to distill an ethanol mixture

What do teachers say?

Teachers involved in the pilot program in their schools have identified many significant benefits arising out of the inquiry-based learning in the STELR program. They included:

  • A definite increase in the level of students’ engagement with the material – this included more class discussion and willingness of students to contribute to discussions, as well as increased engagement with practical activities.
  • More opportunities to connect what students were learning with current issues in the media and in their daily lives. Students gained insights into how science works in the real world.
  • The opportunity for teachers to work as a team, to gain a broader understanding of the applications of science, and to undertake inquiry-based learning on a much larger scale than their time and resources would normally allow.

View the results of the Teacher Satisfaction Survey from the 2010 STELR Project here.

Teacher Training

New schools are required to send two teachers to a two-day Professional Learning Seminar which will be held in major centres around the country.

The STELR Project Personnel

Dr Alan Finkel AM FTSE, Chancellor of Monash University, is the architect of the STELR Project.

Professor Russell Tytler, Professor of Education, Deakin University, is the Chair of the STELR Steering Committee.

Peter Pentland is the STELR Project Manager.

Rod Dunstan is the STELR Project Officer.

Why did ATSE develop the STELR Project?

Research shows that many secondary school students view the enabling sciences and mathematics as having no relevance to their lives. The consequence of this perception is that many students drop out of these subjects as soon as possible.

The STELR Project was developed to address the decreasing number of students choosing to further their studies in the enabling sciences and mathematics. It achieves this by focusing on one of the key issues of our time, an issue that most students are very concerned about – global warming – and showing them that science and mathematics are crucial to addressing this issue.

The STELR Project also aims to:

  • Improve the level of science literacy and understanding in the community;
  • Raise awareness of opportunities in technology-related careers;
  • Prepare students to engage with science ideas and be knowledgeable about the way science and scientists work;
  • Increase the number of students choosing science and engineering careers to address the shortage of science and engineering graduates; and
  • Improve the quality of science classroom teaching practice.

For all enquiries about the STELR Project

For general information about the STELR Project or STELR resources, or contacts for advice or support, please contact:

Peter Pentland
STELR Project and Education Program Manager
Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)

Phone: (03) 9864 0906
Fax: (03) 9864 0930
Postal address: GPO Box 4055, Melbourne, VIC, 3001