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Celebrating STEM: Proudly pioneering STEM for girls

How we celebrate STEM

Our vision for STEM is for students to be passionately engaged in the areas of STEM and develop their potential to thrive in the future. The outcome as a top academic and maths school in Perth is a dynamic K-12 network that fosters sharing ideas, resources, experience, encouragement and engagement with innovative teaching tools that are relevant to the world of STEM today and in the future.

 

Junior School

Kindergarten

Biological Sciences features as an area of interest including native animal habitat observations of a native frog enclosure, the introduction of scientific record keeping and regular visits from a Zoologist.

Pre-Primary

Classes investigate structures, materials and their properties and design process. Students have worked collaboratively to construct towers using a variety of materials to help support the beanstalk from popular fairy tale ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

Year 1

Students are introduced to coding with small programmable robots. They engage in a range of activities requiring them to develop spatial awareness and direction to develop a sequence of code for the robots to follow.

Year 2

Chemical Science lessons have involved STEM Researcher in Residence Ellen Fortini from Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. Regular weekly classroom sessions have immersed students in activities combining inquiry, construction, inventing and developing colour coded maps
to guide tiny line sensing Ozobots to perform a series of manoeuvres.

Year 3

Students have launched into their investigations of mathematics concepts of Measurement and Geometry using robots. Students coded ProBots to perform actions, navigate a maze and even plot shapes using special pens.

Year 4

The use of ICT increases and opportunities are skilfully introduced to enhance student learning as they access learning from Windows tablet notebooks. A highlight for many students has been visiting the Junior School STEM Lab for robotics lessons.

Year 5

This marks the start of the Notebook Program where high use of ICT becomes normalised. Students use Google Sketch design to construct virtual galleries, and MIT Scratch to develop video games. Students also have the opportunity to enter the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge.

Year 6

Classes use Microsoft Kodu, a visual programmingapplication, to construct 3D video games. They are also given the opportunity to develop 21st Century learning skills of collaboration, knowledge construction, real-world problem solving and innovation, use of ICT, self-regulation and communication skills.

Secondary School

Penrhos Profs@Perkins

This is an exciting partnership between Penrhos College and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research was introduced in 2014, with Penrhos the first Western Australian school to be involved. Year 11 students work with young scientists looking at some of the most complex health issues facing society, including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This highly acclaimed course is now offered to a further 16 other schools, offering students first-hand experience of biomedical engineering – i.e. taking engineering design and principles together with computing, mathematics, life sciences and medicine to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and disability.

USA Space Camp and STEM Tour

Girls complete an intense program on space exploration and astronaut training in addition to visiting a range of organisations and research facilities in the STEM fields. While the tour is currently on hold, our girls still have access a wide variety of STEM activities designed to inspire curiosity and encourage exploration of new ideas. We look forward to this exciting tour resuming in due course.

STEM Club

Several activities are offered to students interested in delving deeper into some of the STEM fields. The afterschool STEM program is a fun, interactive and dynamic program which allows students to explore a different area of STEM through weekly workshops.  Activities are designed to be accessible and appropriate for students with varying strengths and abilities, with new projects and workshops added to the program on a regular basis.

FIRST® Robotics Competition

Teams are guided by solid principles of teamwork, graciousness, cooperation, camaraderie and professionalism while competing against each other with robots they have built and programmed. Penrhos students are privileged to participate in the international competition with the support of
mentors from Curtin University.

STEM+ Interactive Program

In 2022, Penrhos launched a partnership with construction giant Laing O’Rourke to offer the STEM+ interactive program designed to showcase diverse career pathways in engineering, safety, sustainability, commercial management and legal areas. Senior female members of the team at Laing O’Rourke will offer our students career advice specifically relating to each module. There will also be opportunities for work experience, site visits and up-close experience of the cutting-edge technology that is used in the construction industry.

Girls in Engineering Outreach Program

Penrhos’ annual Girls in Engineering Outreach Program is run in partnership with the University of Western Australia and Rio Tinto (whose Chief Executive, Australia, Kellie Parker is a member of the Penrhos College alumni) and is a well-established window into the world of real-world STEM careers. Mine site visits include mentor talks from female mining and mechatronics engineers, facilities managers, drill and blast operators, emergency services staff and environmental advisors – all help to illustrate the opportunity for students to think beyond conventional career stereotyping in their further study and career choices.

Whole School

Future Problem Solving

The international educational program focuses on the development of critical, creative and futuristic thinking skills. For the past three years, Penrhos is proud to have had teams achieve fantastic results at national level. In the past, Penrhos teams have travelled to the USA to compete in the international competitions.

FIRST® LEGO® League

This fun, exciting and engaging competition has the same feel of a sporting event. Teams of up to 10 build, program and compete with a robot, while learning about a modern problem in science and engineering, and developing solutions for it.

Maths Mentor

Penrhos’ Maths Mentor program, which is open to girls from Year 4 to Year 12, introduces students to a wide range of mathematics enthusiasts – including international academics, industry professionals, university mentors and passionate past students. Older girls quickly take on the mantle of home-grown mentors, supporting and encouraging younger participants to think differently, apply their mathematical thinking to daily life, and become immersed in mathematical activities both inside and outside of the College.

Now in its 14th year, Penrhos’ unique Maths Mentor initiative continues to attract international recognition for both students and for the College, with a continuing upward trajectory of increasing participation – more than 80 girls sign up each year and, on average, 90% go on to study a STEM-based course after Year 12.