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Integrating STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are identified as essential areas of study for Australia to maintain a high quality of life. Future prosperity depends on students studying in and across these areas in order to foster scientific and technological developments.

STEM, drawn from the four disciplines of Science (S), Technology (T), Engineering (E), and Mathematics (M) recognises the importance of this integration and its significance for Australia’s competitive future. These four disciplines are also referred to as the ‘Pillars of STEM’.

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) aims to enhance engagement in STEM by developing practical, hands-on teaching and learning programs and resources that allow students to integrate their knowledge from the pillar subjects.

Advice on programming integrated STEM

Students benefit from STEM by learning about innovation and further developing their problem-solving skills. An enhanced understanding of STEM and its real-world applications has the capacity to increase career opportunities for students. Integrative STEM develops in students the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to actively contribute to society and influence scientific developments through innovation, both now and in the future.

This support guide has been designed to assist teachers developing STEM teaching programs and integrated units of work. It also provides some guidance for subsequent implementation. This work is based on projects being developed and trialled by NESA officers and the experiences of practitioners who have implemented integrated programs.

STEM involves cross-curricula Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subject outcomes. This guide shows how these outcomes can be incorporated in teaching and learning programs when working cross curricula.

Unit mapping and cross-curricular collaboration

Teacher collaboration to develop an understanding of what learning outcomes students will demonstrate is critical to the success of an integrated approach to STEM. Teachers will identify and discuss when and how this learning takes place in the individual subject areas. Schools must determine a model that is suitable for their specific needs. The model needs to complement the available timing, timetable and staffing allocation.

Some integrated model examples:

  • Team planned and team delivered
  • Team planned and content teacher delivered

Some questions to consider:

  • How can the content taught in the individual subjects be the driver for a project?
  • Can the content/project be taught collaboratively?
  • Is there a possibility for team teaching?
  • Can periods be combined or are there back-to-back science/mathematics or technology/mathematics lessons where students can work across the periods on the project?

Integration between subject areas can make the project content richer for students if the content is taught within a context. Discuss aligning units of study to complement each other and the project. Alternatively, work with the individual subject teachers to identify ways in which the teaching and learning in the individual subjects can provide examples to complement the project.

  • the length of time the unit will take to teach
  • the syllabuses from which you are planning to work
  • the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics outcomes that are to be taught explicitly through the delivery of the unit of work. Start small. Consider developing a unit using just one outcome from each of the syllabuses.

STEM syllabus documents

See the syllabuses section for all NSW syllabuses.

  Science Technology & Engineering Mathematics
Primary Science K-10 (incorporating Science and Technology K-6) Mathematics K-10
Stage 4 Science 7-10 Mathematics 7-10
Stage 5 Science 7-10 Mathematics 7-10
(please note you need to determine which level of achievement for Stage 5:
5.1, 5.2 or 5.3)
Stage 6