Environment: Re-negotiating the E in STEM Education

Susan Blackley, Rachel Sheffield

Abstract


There is little debate that protecting eco-systems and sustaining the environment is important, critical even, now and in the future. From an educational perspective, there is an imperative to provide authentic, ecology-based learning experience for all students. In the Australian Curriculum, Environmental Sustainability is a cross-curricula priority. More specifically, there are also outcomes in the Australian Curriculum Science in the sub-strands, Science as a Human Endeavour and Science Understanding (Biological sciences) that focus on the environment: caretaking, respect, and an awareness of the complex connectedness of biotic and abiotic factors. Seemingly Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education has concurrently risen as the new panacea to address economic and employment issues globally. This paper posits that STEM education could be re-imagined by addressing the E as “eco-thinking”, and that this could provide a more cogent and inclusive approach to addressing environmental issues. Integrated and authentic STEM education could not only provide a space to investigate environmental issues but also offer a frame to image and implement solutions or resolutions. In this paper we explore this notion and consider how STEM education could look as ST(Environment)M in elementary schools, either within classrooms or elsewhere in the school. 


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