AFLW star and former Adelaide Crows player, Marijana Rajcic, is set to make a triumphant return to her alma mater, Loreto College Marryatville. With a mission to pass on her passion for STEM to the school’s Year 7 students, Marijana is leading the STEMfooty program that is offering girls the unique opportunity to engage with and learn concepts of STEM whilst playing AFL.
Coming back to Loreto College, Marijana Rajcic is not only revisiting her past but she’s forging a path for its future students. Once a learner within Loreto College’s walls, Rajcic now returns as the STEM Education Officer with commitment to fostering a combined love and deep understanding of STEM though sports. With female appreciation for AFL on the rise, she is actively reshaping how the next generation of girls at Loreto College approach and engage with these traditionally male-dominated fields.
“I am thrilled to return to where my own journey began, Loreto College, and inspire a new generation with the innovative teaching of STEM topics through the STEMfooty program. Education is about kindling curiosity and showing students how to see the world differently,” said Marijana.
By teaching STEM through the playing of AFL, we’re encouraging girls who might feel alienated by the perceived ‘male dominance’ of these fields to break down the barriers presented by these subjects and make them feel more accessible and relatable
In partnership with the Adelaide Football Club, Optus, and the Crows Foundation, STEMfooty is not just another curriculum program. It’s a 10-week transformative journey that introduces students to the intricacies of math and science delivered through AFL. Equipped with hands-on materials and interactive modules, the program is tailored to meet 50 per cent of the annual ACARA standards for math and science, achieving a 40 per cent increase in academic scores and a 30 per cent rise in STEM enthusiasm among students.
Loreto College’s passionate commitment towards forward-thinking, hands-on learning finds its match in STEMfooty. With both Loreto and the program championing the importance of contextual, real-world education, the school’s annual participation in the program signifies a larger movement towards an immersive learning experience. In joining forces again in 2023, Loreto College reaffirms their dedication to shaping not just well-informed women, but adaptable, innovative thinkers ready for the challenges of the future.
Lydia Baccannello, STEMfooty Coordinator at Loreto College said:
Using sports, a domain that often resonates strongly with boys, as a medium to inspire our girls is pivotal. STEMfooty challenges the norm, presenting a stage where our young women can excel both in sports and in the realms of science and tech. This initiative goes beyond conventional teaching; it’s about instilling confidence, challenging stereotypes, and truly empowering our girls to realise they can conquer any passion they set their sights on.
Building on Lydia’s sentiments about the transformative impact of STEMfooty, Marijana highlights the purpose of STEMfooty and the effectiveness of implementing different educational approaches to ignite student enthusiasm for learning.
“The STEMfooty program is all about making STEM tangible, relatable, and most importantly, exciting. When kids see how science and maths play out on the oval, the court, or the pitch, they truly understand its real-life applications. That comprehension sparks enthusiasm, making them more engaged and eager to learn. Dynamism in learning encourages curiosity and motivation to explore new concepts,” continued Marijana.
In the rapidly evolving digital age, the importance of STEM is expanding beyond traditional boundaries. Loreto College acknowledges the omnipresence on STEM and strategically aligns with STEMfooty to foster an understanding among its students that STEM principles are applicable in all areas of life. By emphasising this comprehensive approach, Loreto students grasp the full spectrum of STEM’s influence, preparing them to lead in a world where these principles interweave with everyday experiences.
In today’s evolving world, our goal as educators is to nurture thinkers, creators, and leaders. Through STEMfooty, we’re not only preparing students for future careers but also nurturing essential life skills. This is about shaping future leaders who are both tech-savvy and strategic.
As part of Loreto College’s continued prioritisation of girls’ well-being, the school mirrors STEMfooty’s holistic approach to education which extends beyond academia to promote collaboration, teamwork, and mutual respect. These values are further amplified by Loreto College’s Social, Emotional and Academic Development (SEAD) Program. By integrating essential life skills into the curriculum, both STEMfooty and Loreto aim to shape students into both academically, socially, and emotionally intelligent leaders.