Given that STEM is largely about technology, relying on textbooks to teach it seems a bit of a non sequitur, students seem to agree, when asked, many will admit to not reading them.
That admission wasn’t lost on a group of teachers and scientists who have conspired to create the BioBrain app which is designed to teach STEM to secondary and uni students in a punchy, tech leveraged way.
“Every day I speak to teachers who tell me their students are not reading the textbooks, and in a survey of students, 75 per cent said if they could choose between BioBrain and a textbook, they would choose BioBrain, with the remaining 25 per cent undecided. What this shows is not only is there a demand for digital learning, but an opportunity to get it right.
“Modern teaching recognises that everyone has a different learning styles. We believe that the current digital native learners and their teachers want to use technology to facilitate their learning and teaching. They have grown up using digital tools on their phones for a variety of needs, such as reading the news, watching sport, checking the weather, and communicating with friends through social media,” says Australian curriculum developer, teacher and BioBrain Founder, Caroline Cotton.
The students seems to be using the app where it has been introduced; “Honestly, BioBrain made studying biology so much easier, as it meant all the crucial information was in one place and was 100 per cent reliable, which used to take up a lot of unnecessary time searching the internet, with contradicting information on multiple sites and no certainty around whether it is ‘need to know’ information,” says Zoe Martin, a student at Canterbury Girls' Secondary College in Melbourne.
“Today’s learners expect to find all their information on mobile devices as a source of truth. They dip in and out of different platforms and activities frequently. BioBrain’s short quizzes and learning material broken down into small chunks allows for this. The BioBrain products are extremely visual with each subject having different colours and all scientific diagrams match the corresponding subject colours,” Cotton says.
BioBrain’s team of content developers are all experienced teachers and scientists from the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics and all the subjects on BioBrain are curriculum aligned and contain scientific diagrams to aid understanding.
The BioBrain content is graded over three levels and broken into short bite sized chunks to facilitate short interactions with the learning materials. The app also contains an illustrated glossary that is linked to throughout the learning material.
BioBrain can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection and enables students to learn STEM independently or collaboratively in a classroom.
“For teachers, BioBrain is an excellent tool to use for flipped learning or formative assessment. Teachers can assign short quizzes at the end of each section, enabling both students and teachers to quickly identify where there may be knowledge gaps. BioBrain allows for adaptive and personalised learning with teachers able to assign work to the whole class or just a few students,” Cotton says.
Teachers are currently using BioBrain at the start of their classes to assess understanding of the scientific concepts covered in the previous lesson by assigning quizzes for the students to complete or as a tool to determine what topics to cover before the end of year examinations. Other teachers are using BioBrain to help plan their lessons.
Students can easily use BioBrain on the go, as they catch the bus, train or tram home from school or alternatively, at their desk preparing for end of year examinations.
The BioBrain apps have been downloaded in over 30 countries and have been receiving excellent reviews from teachers and students around the globe, further STEM subjects are currently under development.
“We are continuously adding new products to our offering and plan to have new products ready for next year, Year 9 and 10 Science, covering Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Forensics, Marine Biology and Psychology,” Cotton says.