Principal’s Update 2016 – 7

May 18 2016
Full STEAM ahead

The acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is in broad circulation today in education and the media more generally. We’re reminded quite rightly that today’s students need to be literate in the STEM domain if they are to be productively employed in new and emerging industries.

STEM education is not merely a focus on four core classes or an increased focus on any individual letter in the acronym. It is interdisciplinary and stresses the important connections between these disciplines. This connection is most evidently seen when students are involved in project-based learning – creating, applying and incorporating mathematics for example, and in one or more areas. Year 7 Design and Technology students are a great example of such integration. Primary students at Del Monte have also demonstrated such integration in their annual maths problem-solving challenges. Problems, challenges or inquiries are at the core of quality projects, and it is very difficult to complete any of them without exploring at least two of the ‘STEM’ letters.

But this is not to exclude the importance of the arts – hence the ‘A’ in STEAM. If we’re not inspiring the creativity in what students are learning about, then we are not tapping into the full spectrum of learning. Whether the creative expression is through music, art, drama or literature – or all combined – we hopefully engage students of diverse creative interests.

The Dominican School, St Mary’s in Memphis USA, has pushed the STEM/STEAM just that much further by adding ‘R’ for the religious and ethical element essential for holistic learning in a Catholic school. As stated on their website, ‘Now and in the future, critical questions facing society will be in the arena of medicine, bioengineering, and technology. Dominican believes the future must be shaped by scientists formed in the great intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church. As Pope Francis asserted in his recent encyclical, Lumen Fidei, “Today more than ever, we need to be reminded of this bond between faith and truth, given the crisis of truth in our age.” (#25) Thus, our young people need to be formed on a solid foundation of objective truth.

We envision graduates prepared with a STREAM™ curriculum who study scientific and ethical questions in the context of Dominican Catholic values’.

I’m looking forward to visiting St Mary’s later this year and building connections with Santa Sabina College.

As part of STEM initiatives, we have joined with other schools that are part of the Alliance of Girls Schools for the first NASA Space School trip in the next holiday break. The emphasis of the Space School expedition is as much about collaboration, teamwork and project management as it is about the disciplines involved in STEM. Approximately 86 students from across a number of Alliance Schools are participating, with Santa having the second highest representation. Ms Roseanne Sukkar is one of the teachers accompanying the students, and all the girls last night found out which group they are in. They got their starter packs, and met with the supervisors from iVicon (the partner of HASSE International Study Programs) who will assist them throughout the two week experience. All students involved in the launch will depart from Santa Sabina College on 26 June, 6:10am sharp.

This photo is of some of the girls and Ms Sukkar in their Space School T-Shirts.


One of the benefits of a P-12 College is the ‘bridge’ between primary and secondary education that is afforded. It was great to see Year 4 and their teachers joining the secondary Science team in the labs for some hands on scientific investigation on ‘forces’ as part of their unit of inquiry. A year 4 “selfie” is also attached.

I look forward to seeing many of you at next week’s Growing Minds event on ‘Just Journalism’ with our guest of honour, Monica Attard OAM. Monica is an ex-student of the College and a distinguished journalist. She will share with us the highlights and the challenges of ‘honourable’ journalism today, and the changing media landscape in the age of social media. Please register your interest to attend via

Finally, whether it’s STEM, STEAM or STREAM, we need to always come back to our core purpose of the Mission of the College, and so I share with you the prayer that our students and staff recently received.


Who are we?
This week, when we pray together, let us remember the vision and mission of the College which guides us. 

Our Mission
Santa Sabina College, a Catholic school in the Dominican tradition, educates students to achieve personal excellence,
to act with justice and compassion and
to embrace the future with an optimistic global vision.
We fulfil our Mission by living the Dominican pillars of community, service, learning and prayer.

Our Reflection
Where does our Mission most challenge us? 

Our Light
Your word is a lamp for my feet; a light for my path.
– Psalm 119

Our Support
Better to illuminate than merely to shine; to deliver to others contemplated truths, than merely to contemplate.
– Thomas Aquinas

Our Prayer
Loving God, creator and giver of light,
May we seek to follow you more nearly in our work and in our striving;
May we love you more dearly in our compassion for one another;
May we see you more clearly in the faces of our family and friends; and
May we always look outwardly with optimism and hope. Amen

Our Veritas
What is our truth today?


Dr Maree Herrett