The Western Australian Government is set to focus on science in primary schools, to prepare students for future jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Premier Mark McGowan and Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery revealed the State Government is set to fulfil its election promise to provide $12 million to public schools to convert classrooms into fully equipped science laboratories.
The government says STEM is creating and driving change with many students to become practitioners while others will use generic STEM skills including teamwork, problem solving, creativity, independent thinking, critical analysis, initiative and communication to excel.
100 public primary schools will be selected this year to convert the classrooms over 2018 and 2019.
An additional 100 public primary school classrooms will be identified in 2019 to be converted in 2020 and 2021.
Each of the 200 schools selected will be provided $25,000 to purchase equipment and resources for their students.
Schools will be able to purchase laboratory equipment including glassware, measurement devices, dissection tools, circuitry equipment, 3D models of the solar system and human anatomy.
They will also be able to buy technology including digital microscopes, 3D printers, virtual printers, virtual reality headsets, robotics kits and renewable energy kits that include solar panels and wind turbines.
Expressions of interest have opened for the first 100 schools, with every primary school with more the 100 students eligible to apply.
Up to 50 places will be reserved for schools in low socio-economic areas.
Premier Mark McGowan said science is vital to Western Australia’s future economy and local jobs.
“75 per cent of jobs in the fastest growing industries will require STEM skills and 90 per cent of jobs will need people with digital skills in the next two to five years,” he said.
“A STEM Advisory Panel chaired by the WA Chief Scientist is developing a State STEM strategy which will highlight strengths and gaps in WA’s skills.”
“Today’s initiative is one way we are encouraging primary school students into science.”
Ms Ellery said students with the knowledge and skills to understand STEM will lead the way in a rapidly evolving environment.
“Today’s announcement will help ignite children’s interest in science at a young age and create more opportunities in these important industries,” she said.
“Additional resources in the laboratories will ensure our primary school students are well equipped and excited to continue their studies in secondary school.”