Reflections on STEM Ed Conference

I’ve just returned from the STEM Education Conference held by Deakin University in Geelong (October 5-7).

The conference was an interesting mix of education academics (like me) and teachers from primary and secondary levels around Australia. I think the main emphasis of the conference was how we approach STEM into the future. Is STEM a fad that has been handed to us by the government? Or is it something that will last into the future? A way of incorporating the four disciplines into integrated whole(s)?

I myself put together a workshop on computational thinking, “Computational Thinking: What’s coding got to do with it?” In it I was trying to draw the distinction between computational thinking and coding. I think at the moment a lot of people who are teaching coding believe they are teaching computational thinking, whereas that isn’t necessarily the case. I aim to upload my slides in the next week or so.

The conference itself was a great mixture of case studies and workshops. Many teachers were presenting what they were doing in terms of working towards or within STEM. They talked about their explorations, what worked and what didn’t and the whole thing felt like a big supportive hug where we could all empathise about what we were trying to do and felt free to gently critique what happened. The workshops were a big hit with anything with coding in the title being ‘standing room only’. My workshop was well attended where lots of laughing occurred as I was trying to get my group of teachers to do coding without computers and think about how they could teach coding without computers and think about where computational thinking might be placed in this work.

It was a great 2 days, with a third day (today) of school visits. Unfortunately I had to get back to work so I didn’t stay on.

Well done to the Deakin University team and Linda Hobbs, the conference director. Great job!


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