How the outcomes were achieved

Discovery STEM initiative

A ReMSTEP funded pilot program, the La Trobe Discovery STEM Initiative, for Bendigo 2nd year Bachelor of Education (Primary) students, held at the Bendigo Discovery Science and Technology Centre in 2016.


Nick Tran, La Trobe University.

Responds to ReMSTEP innovation(s):


Specialist science and technology centre collaborations.


Opportunities for students to interact with scientists in world-class research environments.

Key points

  • 153 Pre-service teachers were involved, with 4 schools and, 875 students over 4 weeks.
  • Changed the opinion of many of the PSTs from being adverse to teaching science to wanting to teach science in the future
  • In some cases encouraged PSTs to change their speciality to science

As part of La Trobe’s Bachelor of Education (Primary), pre-service teachers (PSTs) are required to complete a unit on teaching science, based around the e5 pedagogies of teaching and the use of the Primary Connections workbooks. In 2016, in collaboration with ReMSTEP, this unit included the pilot program of the La Trobe Discovery STEM Initiative, aimed at increasing the science communication skills of the PSTs.

The Discovery STEM Initiative brought groups of 2–4 PSTs to the Bendigo Discovery Science and Technology Centre (DSTC), and partnered them with a primary school class from one of four local primary schools.

Exploring Inquiry Science - Discovery STEM Initiative case study

The activities that the PSTs conducted as a part of this project were;

The workshop, taught by DSTC staff, was created to complement the Primary Connections unit being taught at the local school.

Pre-Service teachers working on their lessons for the La Trobe Discovery STEM Initiative

The PSTs, primary school students and DSTC staff enjoyed the program, and thought it was a valuable partnership. PSTs recognised the value in using DSTC as a resource for teaching their students in the future. PSTs said they gained a knowledge of the Primary Connections units and the e5 model of teaching that they had not previously known about, and the local teachers saw new approaches to teaching science that they had not previously implemented in their own practice.

After seeing the scientist model the lesson on making slime … it would be quite simple to be able do that in a lesson on practicum in the future.

Pre-Service Teacher, La Trobe University

The PSTs also said that they found ‘science was easier to teach and more interesting than they have previously experienced,’ and that they would be more comfortable with teaching science in their own practice. Teachers also commented on the interest of their students with the topic material was much higher than what would normally have been achieved in the classroom.

These are techniques to really make people excited and inspired about science and technology.

Jonathan Ridnell, General Manager, Discover Science and Technology Centre

Learn more

For more analysis download the Activity Evaluation report.

Download report - 2.4mb pdf

The e5 model

The purpose of the e5 Instructional Model is not to describe all the work that teachers do in the school but to demonstrate how teachers use what they know in the classroom.

Defining what high quality teaching and learning looks like in the classroom allows us to describe how teachers use what they know in their interactions with students.

The e5 Instructional Model emphasises what the teacher is doing, not what students are doing in the classroom or what students are capable of doing when they leave the classroom.

  1. Engage
    • Develops shared norms
    • Determines readiness for learning
    • Establishes learning goals
    • Develops metacognitive capacity
  2. Explore
    • Prompts inquiry
    • Structures inquiry
    • Maintains session momentum
  3. Explain
    • Presents new content
    • Develops language and literacy
    • Strengthens connections
  4. Elaborate
    • Facilitates substantive conversation
    • Cultivates higher order thinking
    • Monitors progress
  5. Evaluate
    • Assesses performance against standards
    • Facilitates student self assessment


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