STEM Hub for girls gets funding boost

Media release

20 July 2022

An innovative online hub that encourages girls to participate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) opportunities has received $1.2 million in funding from The Invergowrie Foundation.

Three universities, Deakin University, the University of Melbourne, and Swinburne University of Technology, in partnership with Science Gallery Melbourne, will work to develop the STEM hub that will provide teachers, carers, and students with compelling STEM engagement opportunities.

Deakin School of Education senior lecturer Dr Lihua Xu will lead the content development for the Hub. Associate Professor Linda Hobbs and Professor Coral Campbell will also contribute to the project.

The STEM Hub project team will work collaboratively across three themes: STEM Experience, STEM Awareness and STEM Practices and Resources.

Dr Xu, a member of Deakin's Science, Technology and Environmental Education Teaching and Research Group, has been working closely with schools and communities to design and deliver high-quality education in STEM-related areas for the last 18 years.

She said the Hub would deliver STEM learning materials in a fun and engaging manner that was relevant to today’s younger generations, their parents, carers and teachers.

"The STEM Hub will house learning activities catered to all age groups, including students in their early years right up to students completing their final year of secondary school. We want to encourage young people, particularly girls, to be interested in learning about STEM so they can keep these career options front of mind when deciding on future studies after leaving school or the career path they may like to pursue," Dr Xu said.

The hub will also provide much needed information for parents/carers who are keen to support their children at home, and teachers who might need resources that are age appropriate and STEM-focused.

Project co-lead, Swinburne's Associate Professor Therese Keane, has been a champion for empowering girls in STEM for more than 25 years and is an expert in the use of technology and computers in schools for teaching and learning purposes.

"The STEM Hub will be an exciting virtual laboratory – we will continuously evaluate and research the platform, its content and interactivity, and learning impact with students, carers and teachers. We will ensure the hub’s offering is continually improved and refreshed quarterly by frequently aggregating, curating, and creating content that is engaging," says Associate Professor Keane.

"This collaborative project is a wonderful example of bringing together the combined academic talent of these three universities, in the STEM field, to build a contemporary and innovative hub that will drive STEM literacy not just for girls but for the broader community," says Chair of the Invergowrie Foundation Wendy Lewis OAM.

"This project is an opportunity for the Foundation to build on our focus on STEM education for girls at the primary and secondary level. The Foundation aims to expand their career opportunities with a view to building the economic security of women in the future."

They will curate the 'best of' existing STEM website activities and links, as well as create content and resources that focus on the needs of girls and diversity, ensuring not excluding boys in the process.

The Hub will also address unconscious bias and stereotyping, the role of career education, the need to include carers in STEM education and the requirement for targeted professional learning for teachers and career educators.

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