STEM Day comes up sweet

September 20, 2020

Students from Gravesend and Croppa Creek Public Schools joined together this week for a day of STEM activity, centred around their biannual Young Entrepreneurs Market Day. Educationally, STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and every two years their strong STEM partnership brings the two schools together, this year involving some COVID-19-forced remote connections.

Gravesend Public School Principal, Jacqui Todd says students are tasked to come up with a product or service of a quality that they can provide to the public, looking at aspects such as business plans, budgeting and promotion.

“The whole school works together. We have collaborative learning groups where the infants and the primary class work in groups together; it is a great leadership opportunity for our older students. They have set groups and they create their own mini businesses.”

By engaging local expertise to provide this learning opportunity, the schools hope that students see the possibilities that are available to them. “We try and source local entrepreneurs who can come and share their journey and give some real life background information to the kids. This year our guest was Danelle, from Baked by Danelle who spoke about her story and her amazing journey with her current pop-up van,” she said.

“They were able to ask questions such as what were some of the challenges she has faced and how she has overcome them, what things she has found the hardest and how she got started. They enjoyed it a lot. They really love this, every two years when it comes around,” said Ms Todd.

The student-led program has this year come up with business ideas such as beauty products, face masks, slime and key rings. Baked by Danelle is based just out of Delungra, with a pop-up shop regularly seen in Inverell and at local festivals including Bingara’s Orange Festival. Her business has been boosted this year with a new retro van allowing her to keep her cupcakes on the road.

Danelle’s business grew organically, beginning with a few Facebook posts. When the drought hit hard, and her husband’s rural contracting business was put on hold she spent her spare time baking. “The students were very interested in how I came up with the idea, whether I planned to be doing what I was doing now and how much money does it cost to run a pop-up shop,” said Danelle.

Danelle is passionate about being strong and never letting someone tell you that you can’t do something. “Along the way, when I’ve done different things in my life there is always someone there who will put doubts in you that you can’t do it.

My biggest advice to them is to believe in yourself and if you do do the hard work and set goals, you can achieve them.” “I enforce the point that you need to adapt sometimes and that things happen that are out of your control. I tell them to be able to change to be one step ahead sometimes,” she said.

Following the presentation, children were able to see her products and have a real-life presentation of what providing a product or service to the public is about and the standard of what is required to do so.

At the end of the lesson students were able to sample Danelle’s cupcakes and were presented with a paint your own cookie kit, collecting it from the van and having a look at the business Danelle has created. “We work very closely with Croppa Creek Public School in all our STEM projects. We share feedback where the kids provide each other and the staff provide students from both schools with feedback.

STEM provides benefits of integrated learning and valuable opportunities and Ms Todd says that by working in concert with other schools they are able to provide the best opportunity they can for their students. Still optimistic, the schools are aiming to get together for a market-day in Term 4.

“Our hope was that Croppa Creek would come to here (Gravesend) and set up stalls. We’re not sure what it may look like, but we are still hoping to engage with the community in some way, shape or form,” said Ms Todd.