STEAM education to build a future for children
Educators are constantly adjusting to an ever-changing and uncertain world as they strive to prepare students for a future when they leave school. STEAM is a useful and innovative tool in broadening the learning experience.
IB and STEAM
Educators are faced with the difficult job of preparing students for tomorrow’s careers — jobs that often don’t yet exist.
Many schools are interested in promoting STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning to help prepare students for the sharp rise in demand for jobs in these fields.
At international schools, the International Baccalaureate curriculum is paired with STEAM education from the youngest learners to the oldest.
The IB and STEAM are holistic models that focus on interdisciplinary learning. STEAM complements IB learning, and schools have seamlessly integrated the two by incorporating STEAM principles into IB education so their students get a well-rounded education with skills that can transfer to the workplace.
At Western International School of Shanghai, three of the six subjects are STEAM-related for Primary Years, with technology integration being a driving force in enhancing the learning process.
The young students also touch on the other STEAM principles in their learning with complementary activities and resources such as robotics, computer coding and “Little Medical School.” STEAM-based learning can also be found through formal and informal interdisciplinary experiences in many Middle Years Program subject groups, MYP personal projects and community projects.
STEAM, like the IB, encourages inquiry, collaboration and innovation.
Learners of all ages are encouraged to engage with STEAM throughout their learning, but possibly the best example of STEAM incorporated into the IB is seen with WISS’ IB career-related program pathways.
The IBCP is a framework for students in their last two years of high school who wish to engage in career-related learning.
Students who choose this program are typically looking to gain lifelong skills in their field of interest and have a clear idea of the area in which they hope to be employed.
Two of the pathways, in particular, are great examples of STEAM at work: aeronautics and art and design.
These pathways combine the academic rigor of IB program with the practical and professional skills and knowledge needed for a head start in that particular field.
The aeronautics program is a collaboration with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where students gain college credits in aeronautics, engineering and aviation business.
This exciting pathway is designed for students interested in aviation, air traffic control, aeronautical science, engineering, physics and military and civilian aviation. It exemplifies the science, technology, engineering and math of STEAM.
Equally impressive, the art and design pathway focuses on an entirely different facet of STEAM.
This pathway is accessible as an e-learning opportunity through a collaboration with the Savannah College of Art and Design.
This exciting pathway is designed for students interested in architecture, interior design, photography, performing arts, video game design, or advertising.
IB can be an excellent framework for increasing STEAM opportunities for students.
No matter what your grade level, or which path your life takes you down, the combination of IB and STEAM gives students a critical perspective and experiences to guide them in years to come.
(This article is contributed by the school team of the Western International School of Shanghai.)
Using CCAs to get the best out of STEAM
Extreme STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) at Dulwich College Pudong is designed to provide a range of STEAM-related opportunities for senior school students.
The spirit of these co-curricular activities (CCAs) is that there is a degree of fluidity between the activities on offer, allowing our students a high degree of flexibility and choice.
Benefits and skills
Traditionally we have run our STEAM offerings as separate CCAs. We thought we would try something different this year. In consultation with our Tech Ambassador student group, we came up with a list of activities.
These included our more “traditional” clubs such as Robotics and 3D modelling, but our students also came up with innovative ideas such as Dulwich TV and Sound Lab.
Through offering such a broad range of choices, students do not need to stick to the same CCA all term. Instead they can move freely between activities and have a range of STEAM experiences.
I believe this approach allows our students to truly develop their design thinking ability as they build and collaborate across a range of disciplines.
The tradition of holistic education is codified and supported by our Co-Curricular Activity program. CCAs range from the academic-focused to sports teams to hobby clubs to STEAM-focused to sevice-oriented.
There are over 200 different CCAs offered every term and the list is renewed every term. The CCA program starts as early as DUCKS Reception and 95 percent of students participate. Many discover their true passion and purpose through the CCA program.
At Dulwich Pudong, exploration of leadership is an essential part of our educational DNA. Our Live Worldwise vision means that students have both the skills and motivation to make a difference.
They have the ability to speak and act, the courage to pioneer and lead the way, the confidence to inspire and influence those around them to galvanize behind their vision.
Competitive robotics requires students to work in a team and each take on a unique and intricate role that cannot be easily replaced.
This places a high sense of responsibility on each team member, pushing them to perform above and beyond their normal comfort zone and abilities to live up to their team’s expectations.
Not only does this foster each student’s independence and confidence in their area of expertise, but also allows students to act as a true team and leader in their respective area.
Our Panther Robotics club allows students to start off in one of the three pre-set occupations: programmers, builders and documenters.
However, once students feel comfortable within their area, they can branch out to more unique and specialized options, with some choosing more design-based options such as designers or CAD builders, some focusing on Java-based autonomous programming, and others creating entirely new pathways such as supply managers.
This instills a unique sense of identity as students integrate their own style and personality into their roles, developing a position and working with a level of freedom not easily found within other competitive or athletic activities.
Some of the examples
• Panther Robotics: We design, build and test robots using a range of equipment.
• 3D creation space: Learn how to use 3D design software to create characters and objects, and then print them out to keep.
• Electronics Lab: Don’t know your Raspberry Pi from your Ardunio? Want to combine electronics and coding but don’t know where to start? Then this activity is for you.
• Sound lab: Calling all budding DJs, podcasters and sound engineers. Come and help us create a brand new sound studio.
• Club create: Start from a blank canvas and turn your designs into reality. We give you the tools, space and training, but you work independently or with friends to create anything you can imagine — no teachers allowed!
• Repair Café: For this student-led activity you will learn how to use a soldering iron and fix things — even broken laptops.
(This article is contributed by Yoran, Year 13, founding member of Dulwich Panther Robotics, and Stephanie, Year 12, head of Dulwich Panther Robotics.)