5 Sydney Catholic Schools Celebrate STEM Learning with Makers Empire

Makers Empire recently concluded a two-term professional development project for five Catholic primary schools in Sydney focused on STEM learning via 3D design and 3D printing with a showcase event.

The 2021 Catholic STEM in Primary Schools 3D Printing Project involved five schools in Sydney — Mary Immaculate Primary School; St Anthony of Padua Catholic College; St Francis Xavier’s Catholic Primary School at Lurnea; Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Primary School; and Marion Catholic Primary School at Horsley Park — joining together to complete Makers Empire’s 20-hour Learning by Design course.

Makers Empire’s Learning by Design course encourages learning across STEM disciplines by supporting teachers to engage students in exciting, challenging learning connected to solving real-world challenges using Design Thinking. The course is designed to be delivered to groups of schools to maximise learning and provide teachers with a peer network for support and inspiration. Makers Empire has delivered its Learning by Design course to 260+ primary schools and thousands of happy teachers across Australia. 

For the 2021 Catholic STEM in Primary Schools 3D Printing Project showcase event at Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School in late June, around 40 students and 50 adults came together to celebrate the projects and learning achieved during the project. Each school set up their own display stall to showcase their students projects and then students took turns presenting their projects to stall visitors and then visiting other schools’ stalls and learning about their projects. 
"Excitement filled the air as the students excitedly walked around the room and listened to others passionately explain their projects. The students were in awe of each other and were clearly proud of themselves. The students started out being a little quiet, however, their confidence grew and they happily shared their work with others. It was evident that the students understood their projects well and they articulately explained their learning journeys, including their failures and how they learnt from them,"
Ashley Azzopardi
Kindergarten Teacher and Science & Technology Coordinator at Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School

Students had three raffle tickets each to vote for the best school projects with. They thought about which displays were the most interesting and which projects inspired them.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary School, Mt Pritchard received the most votes from students for their stall and were presented with the 3D printed Showcase Trophy (see below). The year 4 students from this school worked with teachers from across the school to solve the problem of their messy teacher desks. Some students created some amazing, personalised stationery holders to help keep the teachers’ desks organised. Other students created engaging fun fidget toys to help other students stay focused and calm. 

Feedback from teachers involved with the 2021 Catholic STEM in Primary Schools 3D Printing Project was extremely positive. In post project surveys, teachers were quick to praise the way the project was set up, the professional development, training and support provided by Makers Empire and the responsiveness of the team. Teachers also commented on how engaging the app was for students, and how much they enjoyed creating their own designs to solve real-world problems as well as designing at home. 

Feedback from students collected via post-project surveys was equally positive. Students especially liked being able to create their own designs in Makers Empire to solve real-world problems. They also enjoyed seeing other schools’ projects at the showcase day, listening to students from other schools and receiving feedback from other schools to help them improve.

Mandi Dimitriadis, Director of Learning at Makers Empire, said, “this is the first large-scale project we have run within the Catholic Education system and it has been really successful. The projects teachers have designed with their students have been quite outstanding and it’s been great to see the depth of engagement in solving real-world problems within schools and broader communities. Special thanks to Ms Lisa Wahab, principal at Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School for her support and energy in getting the project up and running.”

Mandi added, “it has been really rewarding to work with this group of schools from the Sydney Catholic Schools network. The teachers were so enthusiastic and positive about this project – I really hope we can work with more schools within the Catholic Education sector in the future.”


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