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Academy to build skills across borders

November 05th, 2021

Students living in regional and remote areas of NSW and the Northern Territory are set to become the beneficiary of Schools Plus’ Virtual STEM Academy (VSA) program, thanks to a grant from the St. George Foundation.

Image: Tom who has recently participated in the VSA program and now wants to study engineering.

In the build-up to national STEM Day on Monday, Schools Plus has been announced as the recipient of the Foundation’s 2021 Inspire Grant, which will enable the VSA program to be extended from Queensland to more than 10,000 students in NSW and the NT.

National STEM Day highlights the potential value of building a workforce with STEM skills to help the Australian economy grow. Digital innovation could deliver $135 billion in gross economic value to the nation in the next decade, while improving the educational outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds is vital to giving everyone an equal opportunity to secure a job.

VSA has already reached 4,450 students across 252 Queensland schools. Its focus is on students facing disadvantage: Indigenous students are on average 2.5 years behind their non-Indigenous peers in maths and science achievement at the age of 15.

The program is designed for students from Years Five to Nine and focusses on building their STEM skills – including collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.

Program delivery to regional and remote setting is done through a state-of-the-art video conferencing platform, which enables students and teachers to collaborate across borders and their wider communities.

A bonus of VSA is that also helps improve students’ social and leadership skills. The program has also some gamification elements to help build engagement.

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