Rural and regional students improve STEM skills through discovery programs

Ahead of National Science Week in August, we look at how the Discovery Centre in Bendigo is helping to boost STEM learning.

Running from Saturday 13 to Sunday 21 August 2022, National Science Week will ask schools to explore the theme 'Glass: More than meets the eye', reflecting on the United Nations International Year of Glass.

With science on our minds, we've looked at how the Discovery Centre in Bendigo is helping regional students sharpen up their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

In partnership with the department, the centre runs STEM sessions aligned with the curriculum for regional and rural primary schools. These sessions help students build critical and creative thinking, problem solving, resilience and knowledge in STEM.

The program also features virtual discovery science sessions, which explore curriculum-based science topics through hands-on experiments, using materials that the Discovery Centre provides.

To further boost learning outcomes, small regional schools have also had the opportunity to participate in a tailored program blending virtual support with incursions from Bendigo staff.

Why the program is important for remote and rural schools

Programs like this give remote and rural schools the opportunities afforded to schools in urban areas.

The benefits of the program have been plain to see, with students achieving better results in STEM subjects and teachers building up their confidence in STEM teaching.

At the end of 2021, 572 students from 15 small schools across Victoria had taken part in the blended program run by the Discovery Centre. In addition, 1,269 students from 33 schools had accessed virtual lessons.

The program has been a great hit.

In feedback surveys, more than 90% of teachers and students said they found the workshops engaging and had learned something new from them.

A Bass coast teacher shared, 'Our students just don't get opportunities like this. It's very hands-on and the results were instant. There was lots of talk amongst the students about this for days afterwards.'

Another teacher said their favourite workshop gave students the opportunity to build a bridge:

'The students had so much fun testing, making and re-building; the boys and girls totally loved it. We still have the bridges they built displayed in the classroom.'

Along with their teachers, students also had great things to say about the sessions, walking out of the sessions with comments such as 'Can we do this every day?' and 'Wow! Science is cool!'.

National Science Week and STEM resources

The National Science Week website has lots of ideas to get your students involved. Check out these hints and tips for holding an event at your school, such as an expo, themed event or a Brain Break quiz in class.

You can also refer to our Science and STEM page for:

  • digital science resources and websites
  • science and mathematics specialist centres
  • school incursion and excursion programs.

The page has great science resources for teachers from a range of sources, such as the Victorian Government, the Commonwealth Government, and not-for-profit and international organisations.

Find out more

For more information about the Virtual Discovery program, refer to Virtual Discovery - Discovery Science & Technology Centre, Bendigo.

For further enquiries about the program, contact the Bendigo Discovery Centre:

For further enquiries about STEM Education, contact Eleina Tava, senior policy officer, STEM Education Unit: