STEM involves finding out about the world in a systematic way. STEM is not just a body of discrete knowledge but is a process of in-depth inquiry and investigation for a real purpose. STEM inquiries are a distinct way of finding answers to interesting questions and solutions to important problems.
All Tara girls are scientists. They learn an appreciation and awareness of the world as it is viewed from a scientific perspective. Science equips the girls with the ability to explain behaviour, relationships and phenomena, of objects around us in the natural and made world. Scientific inquiry is intimately connected to curiosity and ingenuity, acknowledging that our understanding of the world is constantly changing and evolving. Students pose hypotheses and wonderings which are addressed by working scientifically and technologically.
The girls become proficient in the key scientific skills and processes: posing questions, conducting fair tests, verifying findings, using evidence, justifying and reasoning, and using and evaluating technology. Reflecting on her knowledge helps a Tara girl develop a sense of responsibility regarding the impact of her actions on herself, others and the world around her.
All Tara girls are technologists, becoming proficient and confident in using and appreciating platforms, applications, environments and devices. Girls learn about technology and learn through technology, using it across the curriculum to access learning, enhance learning and express learning. Common learning platforms in the Junior School are Seesaw, Microsoft Teams and Canvas, and each one is utilised depending on the age of the child and the learning intention of the teacher.
Every learning space is equipped with interactive screens, and girls access iPads and laptops. Within classrooms, our ‘technology hub’ (which includes a lab, green screen recording studio and construction zone), lunch time clubs and IT lessons, girls learn about 3D printing, coding, robotics, movie making, animation, and green screen technology.
All Tara girls are engineers who respond to design problems in innovative ways. Opportunities are provided for girls to generate ideas, plan design solutions, build and test prototypes and modify their designs for optimal aesthetic and functional success. Through their engineering experiences, girls manipulate a variety of physical and digital materials. They develop fundamental skills in spatial awareness, sequencing, construction and fine motor coordination. Engineering tasks often require students to collaborate, reflect and respond to feedback.
All Tara girls are mathematicians. Underpinning the teaching of mathematics is the work of Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck, pertaining to mindset. Girls develop a strong sense of efficacy in their mathematical capability, rather than a notion so prevalent in society that mathematics requires a special set of cognitive talents only held by a few. Teachers do this by valuing mathematical reasoning over mathematical speed, creative permutations of problems over rote formulas and single strategies, and flexible groupings based on readiness and interest.
Mathematics is a creative activity involving reasoning, abstraction and generalisation in order to identify, describe and apply patterns and relationships. Through purposeful guided inquiry, Tara girls construct meaning through ever increasing levels of abstraction. Each new mathematical concept and process is explored from the concrete through to the representational stage, which employs diagrams, signs and symbols. The essential power of mathematics is in its relevance in all subject areas, aiding girls in making sense of the world around them. This enables them to interpret and apply mathematics in a variety of real-world contexts.