STELR (Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance) is a national initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.
The Academy is an independent body of more than 800 Australian scientists and engineers seeking to enhance Australia’s prosperity through technological innovation.
STELR is designed to be taught within the curriculum so that ALL students participate, not just selected students. STELR incorporates inquiry learning that engages and challenges students. STELR modules include equipment, curriculum resources for teachers and students and teacher support. Teacher professional learning sessions are provided as well as on-line and telephone support.
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The primary aim of STELR is to address the problem of low participation rates in STEM subjects at the upper secondary school level. It does this by developing teaching modules relating these subjects to highly relevant issues affecting all students.
One major reason for these low participation rates is that students do not perceive and appreciate the relevance of science in their lives, despite being surrounded by science and technology.
STELR taps into the high level of concern that the majority of students have about global warming, climate change and sustainability. By basing the STELR modules around sustainable energy technologies, students see the STELR activities as being highly relevant to their lives. By aiming the modules at students from years 5 and 6 up to year 10, STELR provides ongoing opportunities for them to practice their science skills and build on their science knowledge.
Secondary aims of the project are to:
Teacher evaluation of the STELR program shows that it has an overall positive effect on students’ participation and engagement in learning science and on their perception of the relevance of science in their lives. (See testimonials)
The STELR Renewable Energy module utilises purpose-designed and built equipment that allows students to undertake both guided and open ended research into solar and wind electricity generation while learning about electric circuits and energy transfer and transformation.
Modified versions of the original module include the Wind Energy module containing only the equipment required undertake investigations into wind power. The Electricity and Energy module is aimed at upper primary students as an introduction to electricity and electric circuits.
STELR Solar Car kits were developed to complement the Renewable Energy module. As well as extending students’ inquiries into solar energy and electric circuits, they can be used to gain a better understanding of gears and forces.
The STELR Sustainable Housing module is based on investigations into heat transfer by convection, conduction and radiation and the thermal properties of matter using the context of sustainable house design. Purpose-built equipment sets include a house cube and roof, temperature logging equipment, specialised materials and ‘appliances’ such as a floor heater and ceiling fan.
Additional STELR modules that do not have STELR equipment packs are available on-line. These modules incorporate the STELR principles of hands-on, inquiry-based and in-curriculum learning using everyday items and equipment common to most school laboratories.