Stage 5

iSTEM is a student-centred elective for students in Years 9 and 10 that delivers science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in an innovative and integrated way. It was developed in the Hunter Region in direct response to industry’s urgent demand for young people qualified in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

iSTEM is a school developed board endorsed course (SDBEC) which:

  • is approved by the NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA)
  • forms part of a student’s academic record in NSW
  • incorporates mechatronics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, engineering, 3D computer-aided design and manufacturing, aerospace and motion modules
  • presents mathematics and science concepts to students in ways that challenge not only their understanding of these key learning areas, but also their ability to manage projects and work collaboratively in teams
  • provides students with curriculum to support the most up to date technologies including 3D printers, virtual reality, drones, robotics and a range of intelligent systems.

Design thinking, complex problem solving, communication and collaboration are foundation skill-sets that are developed in this course. Often delivered with the assistance of local industry experts, the iSTEM curriculum provides authentic, real-word learning opportunities for students.

Key elements of iSTEM

  • integrated approach to teaching previous silos of STEM
  • engages students in inquiry, project and problem-based learning
  • emphasis on enterprise skills such as: complex problem solving, teamwork, communication, negotiation, and creativity
  • more connected real-world learning, including industry contextualisation
  • team teaching and flipped classroom approaches to teaching and learning.

NESA endorsement

Step 1: Read the iSTEM course document and negotiate with your principal to determine if you have the resources and structures available for the course to run at your school.

Step 2: Ask your principal to email Dr. Scott Sleap (NSW Department of Education) requesting that your school is added to the list of schools endorsed to run iSTEM. Dr Sleap will forward your email to NESA for full endorsement.

Step 3: NESA processes the request and sends your principal a notification letter to let you know that iSTEM has been endorsed for your school.

Note: You do not need to request endorsement each year. If you have any queries related to the endorsement process, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Scott Sleap.

iSTEM document

Download the current iSTEM syllabus document (Version 3)

History of iSTEM

  • In 2013, version 1 of the iSTEM curriculum was developed by NSW Department of Education through Maitland Grossmann High School in partnership with local Industry, led by Dr. Scott Sleap.
  • Its original production was supported through a ME Program grant from Regional Development Australia - Hunter. The original iSTEM syllabus was updated in subsequent years and versions 2 and 3 were developed by Dr. Sleap whilst he was the ME Program Director for Regional Development Australia - Hunter.
  • In 2019, the NSW Department of Education through its STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) Program has developed version 4 with extensive assistance from SISP Program partners.
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