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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

UC STEM research receives $USD100,000 for schools pilot

The University of Canberra’s (UC) STEM Education Research Centre has received $USD100,000 from international IT security, data and analytics-software organisation, Rapid7, to help fund a pilot.

The ground-breaking Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) pilot will be rolled out to schools in Canberra and surrounding NSW, from Queanbeyan to Gundaroo and Braidwood. ELSA is expanding its program beyond pre-school to integrate into early primary school across the country.

The program encourages children and educators to create their own content within the apps that reflect their life and community.

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) Award-nominated ELSA apps have been designed so that children can direct their own play while building capacity in spatial and logical reasoning in STEM, simultaneously collecting children’s STEM literacy data in a play-based way, on a scale not seen before in technology research.

From remote Indigenous communities to regional towns and urban areas, ELSA has already provided Australian children equal opportunity to access the program. To date, more than 11,000 children have engaged with ELS, enabling cultural and contextual learning, irrespective of where they live.

According to Centenary Professor Thomas Lowrie, Director of ELSA, the support from Rapid7 enabled ELSA to pilot the innovative technology-based education program to kindergarten classes across the ACT and NSW.

“Despite a year where many children did not physically attend school for periods of time due to COVID-19, we saw large gains in spatial skills and a transfer to numeracy achievement over the 18-week program,” he said.

“Through this funding, we were able to develop the program and examine how we could address the cultural and contextual needs of children and teachers in both very large schools and in small schools with multi-age classrooms to determine how ELSA could work effectively in a broad range of contexts.”

While Rapid7’s core business uses comprehensive real-time data collection, advanced correlation, and unique insight into attacker techniques to strengthen an enterprise’s ability to defend against cyber-attack, its core values extend to the philanthropic endeavours in the form of Rapid7GivesBack.

ELSA is a project of the STEM Education Research Centre (SERC) under the University of Canberra Faculty of Education.

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