A centre at an Australian university wants to create a new way to get young students into studying education in science, engineering and health.

The Science, Health and Engineering Educational Research (SHEER) Centre at RMIT University is now open, the centre aims to redesign learning and teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Teaching in the STEM arena has been somewhat shambolic in the past, with no coherent push to create engaging ways of passing-on passion for the higher-order subjects.

Professor Ian Chubb, a central figure in Australian science, says there needs to be a paradigm shift in the approach to teaching teachers – with projections that the next few decades will be formed by new students of STEM subjects.

The Centre is itself based on the research of its founding members. Professor Julianne Reid, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching says it: “will create cross-disciplinary, formal networks focused on the systematic integrated development of excellence in learning and teaching scholarship in these disciplines.”

It may be a long path for researchers at the centre to devise a new way to get students excited about what are typically considered dry subjects. However, providing the scientific community maintains a healthy level of funding, research and development, some say the traditionally more cerebral fields can be made more interesting and relevant.

RMIT Dean of Learning and Teaching, Professor Geoff Crisp said: “RMIT will be looking to the SHEER Centre to model excellence in research output and foster collaborations within the University and with national and international colleagues, including the various discipline networks sponsored by the Office for Learning and Teaching.”

With its foundations in research and the backing of big figures in the Australian scientific community, the SHEER Centre can: “be a research-informed, knowledge-based leader for the strategic orientation and promotion of the scholarship of learning and teaching,” Professor Reid said.