Curtin has for several years been transforming our education into more authentic and industry connected learning experiences that develop students as engaged, future-focussed, and lifelong learners. The relatively sudden emergence of COVID-19 and its impacts upon lives across the world has prompted us all, however, to rethink what the ‘new different’ will look like as we emerge from the pandemic. The STEM4Innovation initiative promises an exciting way forward, with real-world connections in a way that positions our young people as active contributors to our communities while learning and developing.

Professor JIll Downie
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic
Curtin University
Education Commissioner Australian National Commission for UNESCO

Professor David Gibson
UNESCO Chair of Data Science in Higher Education Learning and Teaching,
Curtin University

STEM4Innovation offers an opportunity to involve students in real-world problem solving.  Students use creative thinking skills to discover empathy for the needs of others, define insights in response, brainstorm and develop ideas that address pressing needs, and create models and solutions that can be tested in the real world. Students work on open-ended challenges as members of problem-solving teams and learn that making a difference in one’s community motivates them to learn more, while developing the skills and confidence to succeed. These are qualities much sought after by universities and workplaces. This is challenge-based learning at its best, supported by a network of innovative teachers, community organizations and universities.

Creating opportunities for students to combine technological toolsets with mental toolsets is the key to innovation going forward. This need is particularly timely right now as we watch the human race struggle with a suddenly altered toolbox for teaching, learning and growing while at the same time requiring huge demands of the tools we are left with to solve a global pandemic. Even before Covid there was an urgent need to develop emergent design thinkers to meet the challenges of climate change and technological change. Covid has compressed these kinds of challenges into a rapidly-moving crisis, making the need for smart, critical thinkers even more urgent. STEM4Innovation will give its students the necessary skills to survive the current challenges and to build a better world to face the challenges yet to come.

Tom Haymes 
Author of Discovering Digital Humanity (Atbosh Media, 2020)

Professor P John Williams
STEM Education Research Group, and Director of Graduate Research
Curtin University

In this increasingly interconnected IR4.0 world, when teachers are working out how to facilitate learning  online and students struggle with new modes of learning, the need for connection, at many different levels, is recognized as imperative.  This occurs in the midst of widespread discourses about the ‘new normal’ in which disruption becomes the norm.  STEM4Innovation is a network which satisfies the needs which arise out of these contexts. It connects students and teachers to develop the innovative and creative skills needed to deal with contemporary issues.

STEM4Innovation is an innovative project that will provide participants with the necessary skills to thrive in a world going through unprecedented change. The multidisciplinary nature of the project and bringing together all facets of the secondary and tertiary landscape is a real credit to the project team. 
As a senior leader within the VET space, I see first hand the benefits of industry, education and community partners willing to work together for innovative and creative solutions.
Design thinking, multidisciplinary approaches coupled with strong leadership will no doubt see us successfully tackling some wicked problems and this project is key to achieving that outcome.

Dr Norman Baker
Executive Director, Education Operations

Dr. Samantha-Kaye Johnston
Research Scientist (Cognitive Psychology & Product Evolution)
Cinglevue International

STEM4Innovation represents a forward thinking initiative that seeks to advance the holistic experience of all students. We oftentimes ask the opinions of teachers, principals and administrators, but, too often, students are not included in the decision making process. Given my experience in this area, especially within the context of the development of online learning experiences, I am aware of and appreciate the invaluable contributions that students can and should be making to the development of their learning experience. STEM4Innovation offers this opportunity and we look forward to working along with the team to implement this quintessential initiative.

Learners as creators, data-driven practices, personalization, design thinking, and building the capacity of human leaders are the Consortium for School Networking’s top five “accelerators” in education for 2019. Learners as creators remained the leading accelerator in 2020.

Learners as Creators is a powerful concept to transform learning, as documented in the 2019 and 2020 Driving K-12 Innovation reports.  STEM4Learning puts that learning accelerator into practice.  Very exciting how they are engaging students in real world problems.  They are a global model for innovation in education.

Keith Krueger, CAE
Chief Executive Officer, 
CoSN – Consortium for School Networking 

Rees Barrett
School Programs Coordinator and
Chair for the Education Reference Group
United Nations Association of Aust (WA)

The UN Association of Australia (WA) heartily endorses the STEM4Innovation initiative. Valuing the involvement of our youngsters in problem-solving and planning for our sustainable future is wise. Research evidence demonstrates the powerful positive impact this has on youth well-being. We would urge the government to promote the use of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as a planning and problem-solving framework in our schools, regional and community development bodies.

STEM4Innovation represents the next step in empowered, democratised, real-world learning. Students work collaboratively to identify one of the many challenges we have in a disrupted, post-COVID world and use the design thinking process, creativity and plain old fashioned sweat to devise a solution. Students and educators are crying out for real world applications for learning. This is one, that might just get the ‘adult world’ to sit up and listen to some of the brightest young talent in our next generation.

Peter Hutton
Director & Founder
Future Schools Alliance

Professor Grady Venville 
Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic,
Australian National University

The STEM4INNOVATION initiative will support students to navigate the new COVID-19 world and enhance their learning about real-world problems that directly affect their lives.  Real world problems are complex and messy and it is important for students to be able to draw on the knowledge and methodologies from different disciplines to be able to understand the problem and work on solutions.  That is where this multidisciplinary approach will be incredibly beneficial, because it draws on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) all at once.

Today’s problems and tomorrow’s future need design thinkers and creative problem solvers to create and maintain a world we want to live in. STEM4Innovation provides the real-world learning experiences to engage students in deep thinking and equip them with skills and strategies for a better future for all…in Western Australia and the world. As a math educator and learning technology specialist for over 40 years, experience has taught me that when teachers take on the role of coach and co-learner alongside students working on problems that don’t have a tidy answer in the back of the book, the learning is authentic and the solutions are real.

Dr. Theresa Overall
Associate Professor, Secondary Education
University of Maine Farmington