Macmillan Education was the winner of the most outstanding resource for Primary school at the Educational Publishing Awards this year. They share the extent to which educators and experts were involved in developing winning resource STEM Investigations for Upper Primary.
Written by highly qualified teaching professionals, aligned with the national curriculum, tested by teachers, edited by science experts, and praised by teacher-users, the learning resource was declared “a stand out” by the judges of the Educational Publishing Awards.
Commissioning Editor for the Primary School Division at Macmillan Education Georgina Garner says, “Macmillan partners with educators and experts that specialise in the subjects they publish. We engaged experienced STEM educators to author and consult on this product.
“Specific research and concept development for the learning resource began in 2016 and the product was published March 2018.
“The resource was developed to cover Australian Curriculum (and certain state curriculum) objectives in Maths, Science and Technology,” Ms Garner shares. “Each investigation idea, such as designing an earth-quake resistant building or designing a lighting and sound system for a school disco, is clearly linked to objectives in these subject areas, as teachers need to know what goal they are working towards to assess success and to plan their teaching time effectively. The author team who created the inquiry ideas are all current or former educators.
The Educational Publishing Award judges chose the STEM learning resource as its innovative set of investigation cards focused on real-world problems, in which students are guided to follow a five-step Stanford University Design Thinking model to apply STEM knowledge and skills.
When asked why she thinks they were chosen as a stand out by the judges, Ms Garner says it’s down to addressing the two audiences in the one product. “STEM Investigations for Upper Primary has a highly comprehensive Teacher Resource Book. It provides everything a primary school teacher needs in one place in a logical order with an accessible design – from teacher PD, planning, quality questions and activities, apps, video links etcetera.”
For students she says, “It addresses real world problems and gives them an opportunity to explore solutions to those problems which could ultimately make an impact in their local communities. There are 20 challenges but there are an endless number of potential solutions.”
The lead author on the project was Charlotte Forward who holds a PhD (exploring student understanding of Science vocabulary), has a Master of Teaching, and is in the classroom full-time. Prior to this project she was involved in a pilot STEM program, High Possibility Classrooms, with Dr. Jane Hunter from the University of Technology Sydney and Independent Schools Victoria.
The editing process for the resource followed standard processes and quality control markers with an in-house editorial lead, supported by the managing and commissioning editor.
“A freelance editor with a strong science background was used consistently across the series.” Ms Garner explains. “And several touchpoints with authors and the publishing team were added into the review process.” Macmillan Education drew on a number of education consultants for feedback at key points in the process.
While STEM education is not yet reflected in its own curricula, the subject is highly valued by several governments around the world due to links with future economic prospects and employment opportunities. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that “changing 1 per cent of Australia’s workforce into STEM-related roles would add $57.4 billion to GDP.”**
Ms Garner explains, “The Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda was announced in December 2015 outlining a number of initiatives designed to increase the participation of all school students and the wider community in STEM and improve their digital literacy. This was backed with four-year funding from 2016.”
Macmillan Education has received very positive feedback from teachers who have used STEM Investigations for Upper Primary so far. Bruce Armstrong, Science teacher at Karoo Public School said in a review published in Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria Inc. Journal:
“STEM Investigations for Upper Primary will equip any classroom teacher with an exciting variety of possible projects and the necessary tools to make the investigations highly engaging and productive, even if they have little experience in facilitating STEM investigations.”
A curriculum leader in Victoria says, “I have purchased both upper and middle packs through Macmillan as I was drawn to the incorporation of the d-school design thinking model. This is a real point of different from other resources I have seen, which generally focus on toys, rather than the thinking. The kit that you (Macmillan Education) have put out is the best one I have seen so far.”
This successful resource has been built in collaboration with the specific outcome of giving teachers everything they need to inspire and encourage STEM skills and thinking in their classrooms. Akin to the goal of STEM in problem solving, Ms Garner says, “All successful educational publishing meets a need. If a resource helps the teacher better meet a student need, then the resource will have longevity.”
**(PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), A Smart Move: future-proofing Australia’s workforce by growing skills in STEM (2015)).
Many thanks to Georgina Garner and Alexandra Harper from Macmillan Education.