Cessnock Learning Community
A key approach to engaging and motivating students to study STEM subjects and pursue careers in STEM is to foster relationships with industry, TAFEs, universities and business. These relationships provide students with diverse role models, access to specialised equipment, authentic local contexts and STEM expertise.
While female students will benefit from STEM role models of both genders, it is particularly important to use these engagements to provide diverse female role models.
A US study found that less than 50% of girls know a woman in a STEM career (The Girl Scout Research Institute, 2012).
Engaging with external experts can feel intimidating. Read the case studies below to spark some ideas and then review the tips for information on how to get started in forming some relationships with STEM role models.
Explore how other teachers and schools have engaged with community partners to create rich STEM experiences for their students.
Join an existing program, such as STEM Professionals in Schools.
Engage with families and the local community to identify who has interest or expertise in the topic being studied.
Make personal contact via a phone call, then follow up with an email to the identified contact.
Meet with the experts before they engage with students.
Be clear on roles and expectations.
For a detailed guide on collaborating with role models, explore the Techbridge Creating connections with role models resource. You can also share the SciGirls Role model strategies resource with potential community partners.
There are many different models for engaging with STEM experts. Select the approach that best fits your context. Think about whether this should be an opportunity for a single class, a whole year level, multiple year levels, or even multiple schools.