iSTEM is an NSW Department of Education approved elective course.
iSTEM is an innovative student-centred elective that integrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The course focuses on applied learning and skillset development based on the needs of local and national industry. iSTEM prepares students to engage with STEM knowledge, understanding and skills using inquiry, problem and project-based learning pedagogies.
Students may undertake either 100 or 200 hours of study in iSTEM in Stage 5. Courses are structured in the following ways:
- a 100-hour course consisting of either
- Core 1 and Core 2 and one elective and one specialised option
- Core 1 and Core 2 and 2 specialised options
- a 200-hour course consisting of Core 1 and Core 2 and at least one elective and up to five specialised options
Advice for leaders on whole school considerations, key information and further support for iSTEM.
Fact sheet for leaders
Whole school considerations
School leaders should consider the following areas before electing to offer iSTEM:
- Curriculum – due to the wide range of elective topics available, careful consideration should be given to timetabling, staffing, and rooming.
- Work, health and safety – Schools need to ensure that work, health and safety policies and procedures and other policies are followed. This includes school leaders ensuring appropriate teacher training and approval to teach and class sizes when utilising practical classrooms.
- Learning spaces – The practical nature of iSTEM, may require access to specialist rooms in Technological and Applied Studies and Science.
- Resourcing – iSTEM is a contemporary, technology-based practical subject which may require investment in additional equipment and materials.
- Pedagogies – A combination of inquiry, problem and project-based learning pedagogies are required to meet the intent of this course.
- Staff training – Additional professional learning may be required for staff to effectively deliver some aspects of the course. Schools need to ensure that staff have appropriate training and expertise.
- Industry links and pathways – The purpose of any STEM initiative must involve active engagement with the wider educational community, government, and industry groups.
The introduction of department approved electives provided an opportunity to update the iSTEM course so that it remains at the forefront of STEM education.
Previous versions included topics which were referred to as either core or elective modules. iSTEM (2022) has core, elective, and a new category of specialised topics.
New specialised topics are focused on STEM priority industries, with industry input pivotal in their development. Topics will develop knowledge and skills that underpin future-focused industries.
Whilst some topics have been superseded, essential elements of their content can be found in other areas of the course.
Course outcomes have been refined so that all are now covered within each topic.
A comprehensive overview of the outcomes, content and requirements for satisfactory completion of the course.
In order to comply with the Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12 Policy and associated policy standards, schools must use the course document to develop educational programs for students.
Illustrative examples of how to sequence the core and options topics.
Scope and sequences
Scope and sequences are flexible documents and may vary according to local school contexts and student cohorts, provided they comply with the course documents.
Sample scope and sequences
A range of teaching and learning activities and resources that may be used to deliver the course content.
Schools may choose to adapt or modify this content or use other materials suitable to their local context, provided they comply with the course documents.
Assessment advice and examples aligning to course content
Department approved elective courses are not eligible for credentialing on the Record of School Achievement (RoSA). Assessment activities should reflect the school's organisation of the course and provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their learning.
Support for department-approved elective courses
Teaching and Learning Advisor