STELR Classroom

STELR is hands-on

Students undertaking a wind energy investigation using the equipment in the STELR renewable energy kit.

STELR Equipment

Students undertaking a wind energy investigation using the equipment in the STELR renewable energy kit.

One of the outstanding features of the STELR program is its robust and enticing equipment packs which are the basis of the hands-on activities for the students.  Purpose-built equipment allows students to undertake both guided and open ended research. The Renewable Energy kits take students through the basics of electric circuits and energy transfers and transformations, leading into research on solar and wind electricity generation.  The equipment has been designed and developed in Australia specifically for STELR and is robust, simple and easy to use.

Collaborative and fun

Both students and teachers agree that the equipment is engaging and fun to use and some students enjoy the hands-on activities so much that they don’t want the lessons to end. The collaborative nature of the hands-on activities fosters communication and helps to develop creativity, team-work, time-management and organisational skills.

A testimonial from a teacher who has used the STELR Renewable energy equipment:

Program used at Yr. 8 level this year. Staff enjoyed playing with the kits as much as students. Enabled lots of experiments to be conducted at school easily. Student engagement was improved, the kits look good and work really well. Stimulated lots of discussion about how to achieve experimental results using the kits. Staff felt comfortable using the kits as the explanations in the staff and student book were easy to understand and re explain to students. Easy to manage in the classroom with the segments in the kits. 250 students, 15 sessions on energy x 6 classes - nothing broken - Victorian teacher

STELR is inquiry-based

The STELR equipment and teaching resources have been developed to assist students to learn about the scientific inquiry process and then to design and undertake their own investigations.

STELR incorporates contemporary teaching and learning practices. Through the context of renewable energy technology, student learn about research,  forming and testing hypotheses; planning and conducting robust investigations; collection and analysis of data and evaluation of scientific propositions as outlined in the Australian Curriculum – Science. The STELR resources incorporate inquiry-based pedagogies that:

  • involve students in initial exploration before ideas are introduces and explanations developed
  • incorporate students’ own questions
  • involve students making decisions as part of the investigation
  • use activities to explore and develop ideas rather than simply demonstrating previously presented ideas
  • allow for genuinely new knowledge to be developed.

From a 2013 survey of schools participating in the stelr program

Engaging and challenging

From a 2013 survey of schools participating in the stelr program

The inquiry-based learning approach engages and challenges students and teachers.  It allows teachers to tailor the learning to meet the varied interests and abilities of their students. Students are encouraged to think and work scientifically around an issues that is relevant to them. In doing so they develop a positive disposition to engage with science and technology. Teachers report a marked increase in student engagement in the program as well as a corresponding increase in science literacy and understanding of the awareness of how scientists work.

STELR is in-curriculum

Many science programs offered to schools (such as science competitions, awards and science fairs) are extra-curricular and target the ‘already-engaged’ students. The STELR modules are designed to be taught within the curriculum allowing participation by all students.

STELR and the Australian Curriculum

STELR is distinctive amongst state and national programs in that it is an excellent vehicle for fulfilling the aims of the Australian Curriculum: Science. 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.