STEM case studies
During 2010/11 many schools across the country benefited from funding to support 'STEM Knowledge Networks'. These communities of professional learning were established across subject areas within a school or college, and in some cases from several establishments. The purpose of a STEM Knowledge Network was to develop approaches across the curriculum to raise young people's awareness of the interconnected nature of STEM subjects. Funding for the networks was provided by a partnership between the National STEM Centre and National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM).
The experience of schools and teachers taking part in the networks was positive, with departments increasing their knowledge of the curricula in other STEM areas. Each network has written a case study of their experience, which is intended as a stimulus for discussion amongst colleagues considering taking a similar approach to developing STEM in their school or college.The case studies describe the focus area for the network, how it operated in practice, some tips on getting started and an insight into what impact schools identified.
The criteria for STEM Knowledge Networks:
- have a specific area of interest;
- have an underlying focus on sharing STEM curriculum knowledge and pedagogy;
- involve reflection on teachers' professional practice during the lifetime of the project;
- involve colleagues from across STEM subject areas.
Main findings across the networks:
- an increase in teacher confidence to try new approaches and highlight applications out of their own subject area;
- using more practical resources;
- applying skills and resources from one STEM subject to another;
- identifying links in curriculum areas and the appropriate timings for teaching them to support students' understanding and progress.
- “Working with other departments has created opportunities for much more dialogue and made me realise how much opportunity there is for creating cross-curricular projects within the curriculum. The students' enthusiasm towards the projects that we have undertaken has confirmed my belief that if we can implement these projects into the curriculum and give learning ‘real purpose’ then both teaching and learning will be a lot more enjoyable and meaningful.”
- "The students were able to see that their teachers of Science teach aspects of Maths (and vice-versa), and that the D&T teacher could teach aspects of Science, especially circuit theory and electrical power output. The reality is that they were able to see very observable links between the STEM subjects (Maths-Science-Technology).
One of the students quoted: ‘I was able to see how topics such as electrical power were connected to Maths through substitution and rearranging equations’.
Another student commented: ‘I didn’t know Mr C could do Maths, but he got the area calculation right’.
(Mr C, was the D&T member of the team)
- "The teachers who have worked together on the project have reported that they are now not only highlighting the applications of their own subjects more often in their daily practice, but are also beginning to link applications with other STEM subjects too, with the help of other members of the network. This improved practice is evolving as a direct result of the STEM Knowledge Network, as the teachers involved are increasingly holding informal conversations at break and lunch times to share their perspectives on common skills and content."
Case studies for download
- 'Bexley Big Noise STEM! A borough-wide year of STEM projects and career awareness activities across secondary schools' - Bexley Local Authority
- 'Blurring Boundaries: Planning for an integrated STEM curriculum' - Charters School, Sunningdale
- 'Bridges to learning: Building interdisciplinary links between Science and Mathematics as part of the Compass project' - Hyde 11-18 Technology College, Tameside
- 'Changing attitudes: Improving the delivery of Mathematics and its links with STEM subjects across KS2' - Roughwood Primary School, Rotherham
- 'Creating a Rockets in Motion STEM project' - Bishop Challoner Catholic College
- 'Cross-curriculum cooperation in product design' - Hinchingbrooke School
- 'Does STEM enhance cross-curricular learning within the Gifted and Talented cohort at Key Stage 3?' - Ashton-on-Mersey School
- 'Engage and Inspire! Embedding flexible learning in the delivery of STEM across the whole school' - The City School, Sheffield
- 'Identifying the opportunities for collaboration between STEM subjects to develop a thematic approach to the KS3 curriculum' - Tendring Technology College
- 'Joined-up thinking: Exploring common content and coordinated teaching of Mathematics and Physics across KS3, KS4 and KS5' - St Thomas More RC High School, North Shields
- 'Managing transition: Planning cross-curricular themes to help develop STEM subjects throughout KS2 using ICT' - Forest Heath Cluster Schools, Suffolk
- 'Mathematics and science departments working collaboratively; it's not rocket science, or is it?' - King James' School, Huddersfield
- 'New approaches to Mathematics: Improving Mathematics teaching and learning in preparation for STEM subjects at KS4 and KS5' - Longcroft School, Beverley
- 'Packaging by Design: Coordinated project-based teaching with real-life context across the KS3 curriculum' - Kelvin Hall School
- 'Professional development for primary teachers to deliver STEM activities' - Castlebrook High School
- 'Promoting innovation through practical STEM-based activities' - Hampshire Local Authority
- 'Promoting the active and effective use of statistical techniques within the sciences' - King Edward VI College
- 'Rising to the challenge: Enriching and extending STEM subjects through a programme of innovative projects' - Southlands High School, Chorley
- 'Space Week! Coordinated cross-curricular themed teaching across KS3' - Balshaw's CE High School
- 'STEM in a Box: Coordinating the teaching of common content through a practical project across Year 8' - Newland School for Girls
- 'Success in science: does it add up?' - Heaton Manor School
- 'Using the National STEM Centre resource collection to improve teaching and learning in STEM subjects' - Baxter College
- 'Using the topic: applications of glass to make Maths more appealing to STEM Club members' - Kingswinford School
- 'Using video as a tool for a cross-curricular approach to the teaching of STEM subjects' - Townley Grammar School for Girls
- 'Wind Energy - Exploring the impact of an after-school STEM project on teacher practice and learners' - Robert Napier School