STEM conference finds online success

An education technology gathering in regional NSW is using the pandemic restrictions to offer more opportunities to educators in Australia and overseas.

Image: On Demand... STEM 2020 has more than 5,000 registered participants from across the world.

The biggest education technology gathering in regional NSW had to move online but in doing so has managed to expand its audience by five times the number of expected participants and has extended its program by two months.

STEM 2020 hoped to attract hundreds of primary, secondary and tertiary educators, and representatives from business and industry to hear from and attend workshops delivered by national leaders in curriculum and technology.

Dr Scott Sleap, Project Leader of the department’s STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) Program, said having to change the event from face-to-face at four different NSW venues had immediately opened up new opportunities.

“Changing it to ‘STEM 2020 On Demand’ from April 27 to May 27 gave us much greater capacity than the 1,000 people able to attend the Hunter, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst and Port Macquarie locations in person, and more options for more content,” Dr Sleap said.

“But even the organisers have been surprised by the take-up: more than 5,000 registrations from every state and territory and from more than 30 other countries, with particularly strong representation from rural, regional and remote NSW.

The conference originally included world-class keynote speakers like Sir Ken Robinson, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith (Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador), Dr Alan Finkel (Australia’s Chief Scientist), Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and the founder of the tech girls movement, Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen.

Dr Sleap said the online event’s momentum enabled fresh content to be added.

“We’ve recently added additional content from Careers with STEM, the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, and from Professor John Fischetti, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Education & Arts at the University of Newcastle,” he said.

The demand has been so consistent that registrations will stay open on the On Demand platform until July 27, 2020

“We are absolutely thrilled that we’ve been able to share such a breadth and depth of expertise with so many educators, who will in turn be able to share it with many thousands of students.”

Further information and registration is available at the STEM 2020 website.

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