Behind the Screen
Alyssa Flint is a problem solver with a passion for mathematics and science that has led her to St Catherine’s. She spends her working week helping prep to year 6 students discover science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Flint says STEM subjects foster creative and analytical thinking skills that are vital during school years and for life beyond St Catherine’s.
WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL?
I grew up between country Victoria and country NSW, and went to three primary schools and two high schools. My dad worked for local government and so my four sisters and I moved around. You learn to adapt to new environments.
WHAT SORT OF STUDENT WERE YOU?
I would have been called a teacher’s pet. I was a hardworking student even in primary school and always wanted to try and better myself.
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE SUBJECTS?
I loved maths because I love immersing myself in a problem and working it out. I also liked anything creative. At one school outside Tamworth we had this amazing music teacher who arranged for us to sing at the Sydney Opera House.
WHO INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A TEACHER?
My mum was a primary school teacher and she was always very strong on what the child needs and finding creative ways to help a child learn. But at the centre of everything she did was an
element of fun because she believed you can’t learn unless you feel safe in the environment.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO ST CATHERINE’S?
I did a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of teaching and did a science major. My first job included a science program run through Monash University and I became besotted with learning how to integrate science into the curriculum. I realised science was at the core of everything I taught so when I saw the role highlighting STEM areas, I jumped at it and joined the school in 2017.
WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?
I work with the prep to year 6 girls. I follow the science curriculum and embed it within a STEM philosophy and I work with other teachers to support the integration of ICT in the classroom. I
ensure the learning students do in my classroom fits with what they learn in other classrooms. This year I also worked with some girls who play chess because chess is about developing analytical
thinking and that is what the STEM philosophy is about.
WHY ARE STEM SUBJECTS IMPORTANT FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN?
Research shows children as young as five start to disengage from mathematics because they think they can’t do it, so we need to get children enthusiastic about science and mathematics before
they switch off. STEM promotes critical and creative thinking strategies to enable students to solve real life problems. It prepares them for a world outside school.
WHAT PROJECTS AND INITIATIVES EMBED STEM IN THE JUNIOR SCHOOL?
This year the year 4 girls were looking at materials and what is synthetic and what is natural. It coincided with the removal of plastic bags from supermarkets, so we looked at plastic and its
impact. The school community donated offcuts of fabric and the girls designed their own reusable bag from dads’ shirts and old doonas. Meanwhile, the year 6 girls chose a star constellation and used that as a model to build a circuit with LED lights. They created a dark house with their constellations and lit up the night sky.
WHAT MEMORABLE MOMENTS HAVE YOU HAD AT ST CATHERINE’S SO FAR?
It was exciting to be told I was going to be a fulltime STEM teacher with my own STEM room – there’s no carpet so we can get messy and be real scientists!
WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?
I love cooking, sewing and gardening. The girls call me “the plant lady” because I have so many plants in my classroom. The girls have just done some fabric printing for me, too, and I’m going to use it to sew a dress for next year.