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STEM Industry School Partnerships

STEM Industry School Partnerships

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iSTEM Stage 5

What is iSTEM?

iSTEM is a student-centered elective for students in Years 9 and 10 that delivers Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in an innovative and integrated way.

iSTEM is what is known as a School Developed Board Endorsed Course (SDBEC) which has been approved by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and forms part of a student’s academic record in NSW. Incorporating mechatronics, artificial intelligence, PBL, cybersecurity, engineering, 3D CAD/CAM, aerospace,  and motion modules, iSTEM presents maths and sciences to students in ways that challenge not only their understanding of these key subjects but also their ability to manage projects and work in teams.

iSTEM was developed in the Hunter Region in direct response to industry’s urgent demand for young people qualified in science, technology, engineering, and maths.

Initially taught in seven leading hunter region high schools, the iSTEM course has been so successful that in 2019 it has been rolled out to over 270 schools across NSW. Since its inception in 2013 the number of schools endorsed has approximately doubled each year and the number of female students enrolled continues to be greater than other traditional male-dominated elective subjects offered in NSW schools.

This elective subject provides students with curriculum to support the most up to date technologies including 3D printers, virtual reality, drones, robotics and a range of intelligent systems. It engages students in problem-based learning and involves them in real-world learning.

History of iSTEM

In 2013 version 1 of the iSTEM curriculum was developed by NSW Department of Education through Maitland Grossmann High School in partnership with local Industry, led by Dr. Scott Sleap. Its original production was supported through a ME Program grant from Regional Development Australia - Hunter. The original iSTEM syllabus was updated in subsequent years and versions 2 and 3 were developed by Dr. Sleap whilst he was the ME Program Director for Regional Development Australia - Hunter. 

In 2019, the NSW Department of Education through its STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) program has developed version 4 with extensive assistance from SISP program partners. 

Key elements of stage 5 iSTEM

Integrated approach to teaching previous silos of STEM;

Use of project and problem based learning as well as enquiry based learning strategies;

Emphasis on enterprise skills such as; complex problem solving, teamwork, communication, negotiation, and creativity;

More connected real-world learning, including industry contextualisation;

Team teaching and flipped classroom approaches to teaching and learning

Important iSTEM documents

Current iSTEM Syllabus Document (Version 3.5) Download

Sample Year 9 iSTEM Program (Version 3) Download

Sample Year 9 iSTEM Program (StarLab Version) Download

Sample Year 9 iSTEM Program (Version 1) Download

Sample Year 10 iSTEM Program (Version 1) Download

Sample Elective Information Booklet  Download

Sample 'Invitation to Elect iSTEM' Letter Download

Important iSTEM resources

Department of Education STEM Website

ME Program iSTEM Module Support Website

ME Program STEM Toolbox Website


iSTEM Promotional Video - Students

iSTEM Promotional Video - Parents/Guardians

How to Implement iSTEM at Your School