Jonathan Nalder (STEM Punks)

Jonathan Nalder (STEM Punks)

Samford Valley, Australia

WHY? 

While the core STEM values of cross-discipline collaboration and problem solving are becoming more widely accepted in Education, the need to inspire tomorrow’s creative problem solvers is so great that STEM Punks was formed to add one more key ingredient - the playful, punky, ‘always ask why’, human focus that gives STEM its reason for existing in the first place. This attitude is often missing from other Education programs - and its knowing how to support formal schooling AND keep questioning everything at the same time that represents STEM Punks unique reason for being.

STEM Punks was co-founded in 2016 by Damien Aldridge, a Teacher heart-broken by the lack of these values in formal schooling, Michael Holmstrom, an Engineer and Entrepreneur who wanted to inspire future innovators and Fiona Holmstrom (business and marketing). Now joined by a growing team of expert Educators such as Jonathan Nalder, STEM Punks has won awards, worked with over 1000+ schools and delivered experiences for kids from over 10 countries so far.

WHAT?

Instead of focusing on just tech, dry science content, and lessons disconnected from their actual lives, STEM Punks programs have differentiated themselves firstly by their philosophy of real-world, human-focused learning where students learn STEM skills not to pass a subject, but as a natural consequence of their passions. Instead of learning coding for its own sake, with STEM Punks, young people first choose themes such as Future Cities, Ocean Cleanup, Space Habitats, Treasure Maps and Smart Gardens first. Only later after immersing themselves in these areas and learning about the Design Thinking process do they also learn the technical and content skills such as coding, physics, biology, technology and maths required to create a successful solution for their communities.

How such programs are facilitated depends on student’s location and needs. STEM Punks has distinguished itself especially in the COVID-19 era by offering hybrid programs that can blend online, live, face to face and asynchronous experiences as well as AR and VR. Building on the key value of connecting STEM back to the humans that are its reason for existing, these programs also embody:

  • Creativity and playfulness - via opportunities to put students into imaginary situations and create their own content
  • Real-world pathways - by facilitating input and interactions with Industry experts and inviting student ambassadors into Live shows and activities
  • Community - by using the STEM Punks platform to connect and promote the work of students and other STEM innovators

View our videos to see what this looks like in practice.