Each month, Refraction Education will bring you the ideas, experiences and advice of an individual in the field of education. This month we spoke to Steve Delaney, a STEM teacher in the Illawarra, who has a mission to make STEM subjects relevant to students through initiatives such as the F1 in Schools Challenge.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your role.

A: I have recently accepted a position as Head Teacher TAS at Bulli High School after previously being Head Teacher Technologies and Creative Arts at Warrawong High School and Head Teacher Industrial Arts & Computing at St Clair High School. It’s my job to lead an exciting and engaging curriculum for students in Years 7–12, and I also make it my responsibility to engage with local primary schools to ensure that strong STEM partnerships and opportunities exist for our local students.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Seeing the excitement in students’ faces when they succeed, or in some instances fail, as you can really see that they have learned something about how something works, or needs to work, and why.

Q: What is your number one tactic for engaging students in what they are learning?

A: Making it real. Ensuring students get to engage in fun and exciting projects that are relevant to their own lives always ensures a positive experience. I preach that ‘Design IS Life’ and that everything has been designed. This really helps students to understand the importance of being able to ‘make things’.

Q: If you were given a huge grant to improve STEM education in schools, how would you use it?

A: It would definitely be invested into physical technologies in schools and associated teacher training. Sadly, many schools are tragically under-resourced as the industry-relevant equipment is simply too expensive to purchase for most schools.

Q: What recommendations do you have for the future of education in Australia?

A: Introducing pay incentives or some form of incentive to attract and entice new teachers to our profession definitely needs to be looked into. As I’m fast approaching 40 it saddens me that I am still one of only a handful of younger ‘Industrial Arts’ STEM teachers across our state. We really need to do more to attract younger men and women to our profession.