Queensland University of Technology

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About Queensland University of Technology
QUT (Queensland University of Technology) is a highly successful Australian university with an applied emphasis in courses and research. Based in Brisbane, the university has a global outlook, some 50,000 students, including 9000 from overseas, and an annual budget of more than AU$750 million.

Courses are in high demand and its graduate employment rate is well above the national average for Australian universities.

Some of Australia's top internationally recognised scientists are joining forces with pre-service and practising teachers at QUT to explore different teaching approaches and inspire more students to study science and mathematics.

QUT Professor Les Dawes is project leader of a program called Step Up which focuses on developing high-quality secondary school teachers who can impart their passion for maths and science (STEM) to the next generation.

QUT is the first university to combine its experts from the Science and Engineering Facultyand the Education Faculty to pilot the Step Up program in a unique setting.

"The STEM Studio is a collaborative space that engages secondary students into solving real life problems using their creativity and curiosity," said Professor Dawes.

"It's very hands on, where scientists, practising and pre-service teachers design innovative learning activities to engage children in learning difficult or abstract concepts. So science is taught the way it is practised."

The STEM Studio workshops with Brisbane students so far have featured renowned astrophysicist Dr Stephen Hughes, leading ultrasound specialist Professor Christian Langton and biofuels expert Dr Thomas Rainey.

Professor Dawes said the STEM Studio was not an ordinary classroom and let pre-service teachers conduct experimental learning activities, not usually done at school, in a safe environment.

"Students have been experimenting and learning about biofuels and checking gas levels in their designs," he said.

He said another experiment had students create noise-reducing ear muffs: "It allows students to explore different materials, how soundwaves behave and how to reduce noise levels in a product that can be used in numerous industries including aviation, music and mowing the lawns."

The program is backed by Australia's Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, who warned the decline in secondary students studying science and mathematics was matched in part by the lack of teachers also studying the STEM fields.

However, Professor Dawes said a recent survey of QUT undergraduates in the Science and Engineering Faculty had also shown keen interest in joining the program.

"Too often talented undergraduates get talked out of a career in teaching and the program is designed specifically to support the next generation of science teachers," he said.

Professor Dawes said Stem Studio also involved Griffith University and James Cook University and he hoped it would prompt many undergraduates to consider and then specialise as teachers in the STEM areas.

"With science there's a solution to everything," Professor Dawes said.