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Mr Harris Chills For STEM

​Our resident STEM Coach Mr Michael Harris, recipient of a 2018 Peter Doherty Award for Excellence in STEM Education got his chill on over our summer holidays. Recipients of the Peter Doherty Award are required to use prize winnings to undertake professional development. Mr Harris switched knee shorts for corduroy and took off on a Study Tour of the UK to deepen his knowledge of STEM in Education and further develop his practice.
His objectives were very clear;
To gain a clearer understanding of STEM education in the United Kingdom, become an Australian contact for the MissionX Space Education Program, promote the Far North Queensland Virtual Academy curriculum at a display at the ASE (Association of Science Educators) Conference in Birmingham, network and connect with teachers from the UK and Europe and develop deeper knowledge of Scientific history through visiting significant UK landmarks.
From the Museum of the History of Science at the prestigious University of Oxford to the National STEM Learning Centre in York, even a brief stop in Shropshire actually, he braved the cold to connect, engage and thrive.
Importantly while in the UK, Michael was a delegate at the Association for Science Education Conference, held at Birmingham University. This conference is a draw for STEM educators worldwide. Over four days our own FNQ representative attended exhibitions, hosted a workshop and attended lectures from internationally recognised educators.
After the conference Michael had a gentler schedule and was able to visit sites of scientific significance, like the Iron Bridge over the River Severn in Shropshire. What is special about a bridge you may ask? Well this particular bridge was built in 1781 and was the very first completely cast-iron bridge built in the entire world. Nothing reflects the history of, and fuses the disciplines of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, like an historic bridge.
Over the bridge, the National STEM Learning Centre in York awaited Mr Harris. He spent two days at the centre exploring the UK Space Education and Resource Office and meeting with Mr Tom Lyons who heads the STEM Club and Ambassadors Program. There were also adventures to the National Rail Museum and the Nottingham Science Centre to observe first-hand, the influence of mathematic and scientific discovery on industrialisation and the modern era.
One prestigious university wasn’t enough for this STEM nerd. Michael also managed a trip to the University of Cambridge and yet another striking and important bridge. Cambridge’s Mathematical Bridge is a three hundred year old structure that defied the laws of engineering at the time it was built. A final stop on the Study Tour took Michael to the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge where he viewed a perfectly preserved Roman ‘swiss army knife’. This remarkable and complex tool dating from the Roman era gives an insight into our earliest history and applications of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.