Feature a Great Teacher: Luke Kerr’s innovative STEM classes in schools engage students and teachers alike.

November 2, 2023

Youth Development Australia and the Australian Education Union are highlighting the critical role that teachers play in addressing inequity in the classroom and school.

That’s why our new, ‘Feature a Great Teacher,’ series we are highlighting some of the incredible work that some of our teachers are doing in our Equity in Education Newsletter in the lead up to the Bridging the Divide Summit.

Luke Kerr is an innovative Maths teacher that has enabled STEM learning to engage students, teachers and schools excel through his development of Real Time Learning. This practical application of introducing Primary and High School students to build robots alongside Graduate and Post-Graduate engineering students develops their capacity and talent early.

We spoke to Luke about how he provides opportunities for students to discover practical applications for STEM through Real Time Learning to ensure equity is created across the education system for public school students to become successful engineers.

Photo credit: Real Time Learning

What role does Real Time Learning do in bridging the gap between STEM/STEAM subjects and practical classroom learning experiences?

The research has suggested that students in Primary and Middle Years are not being introduced to STEM. Barriers to this learning are qualified educators that can teach the “E” in STEM. This is more widespread in low socio-economic schools. ‘Real Time Learning,’ (RTL), provides low-cost workshops that are hosted at the BOSCH Head Office. Schools and predominantly state schools’ partner with RTL to enrich opportunities available to children in their schools. A feature of this partnership is the RTL Adopt an Engineer model. The schools engage RTL to find an undergraduate engineer to work one day per week all year. This not only develops STEM capability in students but also Teachers. This is how schools employ the engineering mindset not often found in many schools and more so not in primary schools. Typically Engineering students have studied engineering that aligns with Mechatronics Engineering. RTL are now focusing on a model that also includes software engineering and Cyber Security.

For further info: PWC Report on STEM as a primary priority investment.

Photo credit: Real Time Learning

Why is it important for public school students to access high quality STEM education that is relevant to their academic potential?

Providing public school students with access to high quality STEM education has multiple benefits. A significant benefit is increased student engagement and student wellbeing. The schools we work with sight increased student engagement in all year levels.

We’re often told students that were more disengaged have been transformed by the introduction of STEM learning. The multi-disciplinary approach caters for diversity and learners that are more “hands on”. Without providing public school students such opportunities, Australia will continue to fall behind academically. Less young people taking up STEM pathways will also not be good for our country’s economy.

For further info: PWC Report on investing in STEM education.

Photo credit: Real Time Learning

Equity in education means that technology based learning is accessible for students around Australia; how can we improve access for students for STEM subjects with programs like Real Time Learning?

Too often funding is purely directed at buildings and technology. All educators will agree that pedagogy and the people in front of students play a significant role in learner engagement.

RTL have created a very economical model, share learning expertise across schools and provide subject matter expertise that is not only affordable but continuous. We must provide opportunities that develop student capability on a regular basis that ultimately builds confidence.

RTL provides a model that makes way for ongoing affordable STEM learning that also introduces schools to off-site opportunities to include Industry, events and universities.


Photo credit: Real Time Learning

Real Time Learning acknowledges that girls have great potential when it comes to STEM subjects and careers, can you tell us how you help support bridging the gender gap?

40% of students participating in RTL STEM Tinkering Workshops are girls. RTL partner with organisations like Robogals so we can attract mentors that are female. “You can’t be what you can’t see.” We also promote programs like Motorsport Australia’s “Girls on Track” program. We don’t just leave addressing Gender to chance; we make it a priority to make Girls feel welcome and included. RTL is also a big fan of Catholic Education’s STEM MAD. Typically 60% of the participants at STEM MAD are girls.

Photo credit: Real Time Learning

Different age groups of children and young people can help bridge the skills gap and build confidence in STEM education. How does mentoring programs through Real Time Learning provide this opportunity?

We’re all familiar with the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child”. We also understand how important peer to peer learning is.  We understand that the best mentors are often less than or close to 5 years older than their mentee. We provide a variety of models that are inclusive of these different dynamics because it is not a “one size “ fits all and we believe a combination of the above is desirable. We encourage a community, the “village” to play a role in the learning. Educators can be Students, Undergraduates, Industry Mentors and the Wider Community.

Photo credit: Real Time Learning

Why are you attending the Bridging the Divide Summit and why is it important to address equity in education through STEM subjects?

I was fortunate to be raised as a child in an era when there was less of a divide. We are now living in times where students’ access to opportunities can vary greatly. Some of our children have access to some of the best opportunities in the world whilst this cannot be said for a large percentage of children in Australia. For all the reasons above our children deserve an education worth having and STEM subjects are represented across all subject domains. The subjects are best represented when they are taught in context, a holistic approach.

We have many complex problems to solve and STEM education provides great models for tackling such complex / wicked problems. One of these complex problems is in fact about “Bridging the Divide”. We do our best work solving problems when we engage with all stakeholders. In the  same way we must have all students engaged when addressing the widening gap representing opportunities.

Photo credit: Real Time Learning

Want to learn more about how to innovate STEM? Meet more great teachers such as Luke Kerr at the Bridging the Divide Summit on equity in education in April, 2024.  Luke Kerr will be providing a workshop on learning in real time for students, teachers, engineers and IT professionals interested in equity in education covering topics such as cyber, AI and robotics.

Bridging the gap between learning outcomes for students is a task that each teacher takes on everyday in their respective specialist areas. The need for great Maths/STEM teachers and programs is core to the heart of innovative schools, with public schools able to benefit from the opportunities of growing the next generation of successful world-class engineers. Learn more about how to bridge the gap between students’ learning potential and their goals by attending the Bridging the Divide Summit into equity in education. Meet like minded innovative professionals and teachers alike.

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