A Griffithteachinggraduate who was recently named a2020 Global Education Influencersays the pandemichasactuallycreatedawhole newworld of opportunity for educators.
DamienAldridge, Director of Brisbane STEM Education business, STEM Punks,saidCOVID-19 forced the 2019 QldTelstra Business Awardwinners tocompletelyoverhaul theirbusiness modelrapidly.
“COVID made us move quickly. We always had the plan to do it but what we didn’t think we coulddofor a few years,we did in three weeks,” he explained.
“The pandemic was an accelerator.
“We had a reallysuccessfulbusiness, winning theEmerging and Energised category of the 2019 QLD Telstra Business Awards, but whenyour whole model is face-to-face and that stops as schools close,it shook the tree.
“We did innovate and really quickly. And now we’ve got programs in schools across Australia which we never thought we were going to have partnerships with.”
Damien co-foundedSTEM Punksin 2017. Theleading STEM education provider focuses onmaking science, technology, engineering, and matheducation accessible to children, while supporting and upskilling educators, to make it fun to teach.
While he was honoured this year witha place onthe list of Global Education Influencers, byExcelligentmagazine, he admits the pandemic gave the business, which also employs two other Griffith graduates,a real fright.
“We got a big kick in the pants whenCOVID hit,” he admitted.
“We had a team of some of the best educators in Queensland andsuddenly welooked at each other and wondered what an earth are we going to do?
“That’s when wedesigned STEM Punks tv.
“COVID taught us to produce high quality film quickly and therefore what we turned into was a team that could design our own programs that we all really enjoy but was also aligned to the curriculum.”
Digitising their offering has led to some incredible opportunities, and theirprogramsare now availableinternationally.
Even in South Australia,in the midst ofthe current lockdown, they’ve been called on— virtually –to assistteachers with resources forstudents who have headed home, again.
“From a predominantlyQueensland company, we’ve definitely gone national, and international,quickly,” he said.
“Teachers hadfallen into thetrap of thinking they need to knoweverythingbut the gamehas fundamentally changed thanks toCovid.
“Ithasshowed teachers that you don’t have to be the expert, what you need to be able to do is to find the experts to give the students the best educational experience.
“Its our team at STEM Punksand the teacher and the student working together.It isthe cool little link that was missing.”
“Through our STEM Education programs we create confident creative thinkers who develop an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset to solve tomorrow’s problems, today.”
Damien is now also set to be honouredvirtuallywith a Global Teacher Award at the upcomingAKS Education Awards in December.