The AustSTEM Foundation's purpose is to work to ensure all students finish school with a strong foundation knowledge in STEM and related skills.
We aim to achieve our purpose by
Facilitating the delivery to Australian school students of a personal microcontroller based education platform which can be loaded with STEM related applications and supported by videos to assist teachers, students, parents and guardians with the STEM school education curriculum.
Facilitating effective partnerships with tertiary education partners, business and industry.
Doing all such things as are incidental, convenient or conducive to the attainment of our purpose, including raising money to further our aims; secure sufficient funds; receive any funds; and distribute these funds in a manner that best attains our purpose.
National STEM School Education Strategy
The Australian Education Council has developed two goals; five areas for national action; and seven guiding principles in its National STEM School Education Strategy issued in December 2015.
AustSTEM's purpose supports the outcomes hoped for in this strategy.
Why start in primary?
"Student attitudes to STEM are established in primary school and this is when the work on engagement and excitement needs to begin" Page 50. Optimising STEM School-Industry Partnerships. Final Report, April 2018.
"Expose students (and their teachers) to a wide range of career options and information early to help increase STEM aspirations and engagement, ideally in primary school and continuing throughout high school, and involving parents and school communities where possible" Second Guiding Principle in the Education Council's National STEM Schools' Education Strategy (Page 11). December 2015.
What are we?
The AustSTEM Foundation is a not-for-profit charity established in Australia in 2017. Our registered ABN is 36 622 569 626.
The AustSTEM board
The AustSTEM story
In late 2016, just after the release of the Micro:bit in the UK by the BBC in March of the same year, Julian Dinsdale, an Australian consultant engineer with offices in both Australia and the UK, was asked by teacher colleagues in the UK whether he had been involved in its design.
This was not a silly question, as one of Julian's previous companies was responsible for collecting the data used for managing Australian dams and power grids; and he has a life-long interest in primary school learning and the importance of STEM literacy.
Julian quickly recognised the elegance of the micro:bit design, and the beauty and impact of a business model that delivered one free into the hands of every Year 7 student in the UK.
He also recognised that, whilst the micro:bit was ideally suited for its purpose of supporting the new UK Year 7 computing science curriculum, the requirement to code it before it could do anything useful could be problematical for primary school teachers with no prior coding experience.
Julian decided to gather together some Australian engineering colleagues to design and develop a learning platform based upon the micro:bit that could raise the STEM literacy of primary school students before they went onto secondary school.
This new platform became the Kookaberry, which has now reached technological maturity and will be deployed as part of trials in NSW schools commencing in Term 1 2021.
The AustSTEM Foundation was established in 2017 to be the vehicle for raising the funds necessary to achieve Julian’s dream of providing Kookaberries free into all Year 5 classrooms across Australia.