MindSET-do Rebrands and Secures Major Funding Boost

Make, Integrate, Explore (MIE) Lab, which focuses on raising aspirations of local students in STEM education, has been rebranded as “MindSET-do”. Along with this name change, has come a major funding boost and the publication of our new research paper.

The Higher Education Participation and Partnerships (HEPPP) Review Panel has now made final decisions regarding the use of funding it received for 2023. We can now confirm that MindSET-do (MIE Lab) will receive $522,500 in HEPPP funding for 2023.

The progress the MindSET-do project has been making is now reflected in a new journal article, which shows early indications of our project’s success in raising students’ awareness and interest in STEM subjects at school.

Since 2019, MIE Lab has helped to inspire the next generation of innovators, scientists, and engineers by providing hands-on STEM learning experiences for 8,000+ students in years 4-12. This remarkable program has engaged with 200 schools in the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Wide Bay-Burnett areas as well as regional QLD. Additionally, we have provided professional development for 500 teachers, and trained 40 UniSC students to become presenters.

The new name MindSET-do highlights our aim: to shift the mindset of school students around STEM subjects, showing them that STEM careers are not only achievable, but are also full of exciting and fulfilling opportunities.

The declining number of Australian high school students enrolling in science subjects show that there is a need for a wider shift in attitude toward STEM subjects and careers. Family, friends and the wider community play a vital role in influencing students’ attitudes and beliefs toward STEM education.

“We are aiming to work with all stakeholders to achieve systemic change in the STEM pipeline to STEM careers”, says project lead Natalie McMaster of UniSC.

“While the recent paper only looked at students in the research, the longitudinal study looks at students, teachers, preservice teachers and parents/carers. In our programs we work with all stakeholders to either support students or to consider their own ability beliefs and aspirations into STEM careers.”

Our project’s success has been reflected in a new publication, showcasing the progress and results of the team’s efforts. The study concentrates on Year 6 students who participated in MindSET-do lessons that presented electrical circuitry and C++ coding, using Arduino UNO microcontrollers, breadboards, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The paper emphasises the importance of increasing primary school students’ aspirations for STEM-related subjects, as well as promoting equal engagement in STEM subjects among both males and females at a young age.

“Our findings indicate that whilst males and females have similar STEM skills, females have lower expectancies for success, achievement task values and ability beliefs, which may impact their future STEM-related subject and career choices.” *

Importantly, the research showed that through the MindSET-do lessons, the attitudes of students toward STEM activities did show signs of change. Both male and female students increased their confidence in coding and reported they had more interest in going on to STEM subjects in high school.

With support of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) funding, MindSET-do aims to continue their mission to increase STEM uptake and raise aspirations in local schools. These accomplishments already achieved are a testament to the hard work and dedication of the MindSET-do team, and the impact they are having on the community.

* McMaster, Natalie., Carey, Michael D., Martin, David, A. & Martin, Janet. (2023). Raising primary school boys’ and girls’ awareness and interest in STEM-related activities, subjects, and careers: An exploratory case study. Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 12 (1), p. 1-18 Available at: https://doi.org/10.7821/naer.2023.1.1135

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