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Capricornus Quarterly : CQ Oct 2018
17 Half a brain is not enough. STEAM plugs into both left and right sides, engaging technical,creative and advanced skill areas. In times that are evolving and changing quickly, teachers are challenged to find pathways that enable students to be prepared for their future. The pathways I value are often ‘shared zones’, populated with different participants from across our School communit y, each person an essential contributor - - with vital roles to play - - in our children’s development. STEAM or STEM is an education ‘shared-zone’ that you’ve likely heard of, but I’m not drawing your attention to it here because it is trending among educators. I personally – and professionally – believe in the power that cross-disciplinary learning like STEAM or STEM brings to individual students and people involved in their learning. STEAM vs STEM STEM is an acronym for four key disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. STEAM includes these four disciplines as well as the Arts. The Arts includes the elements of liberal arts, language arts, social studies, physical arts, fine arts and music. You may have heard of either one or both terms, or pathways, but which one do we take? STEM is a widely accepted and used approach to learning and development that highlights and integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through STEM, students develop key skills including: problem solving, innovative thinking, collaboration, communication and critical analysis. These are known as the 21st Century Skill set. STEAM includes the Arts in this process that leads to a true element of creativity. When an Architect designs and produces the plans of a building, it is the beauty of creativity that leads to the beginnings of what the appearance of the building will be and its functionality. Weaved throughout the real-life planning will be the other four disciplines to ensure it is functional, safe and achievable. I’ve concluded from my research that the Arts need to be intertwined with science, technology, engineering and maths to reveal how the real-life process occurs and making sure that both the left and right side of the brain are being used effectively. Drawing upon RGS’s strengths in all of these areas, the School will reinforce and enhance its offerings, purposefully implementing STEAM ‘scaf folding’ across the School. RGS Science teacher Ms Nikki Kelly, who is part of a larger STEAM team assembling at School, provides her definition of the programme: “STEAM education at RGS is the learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics in an integrated approach. Students gain and apply knowledge, deepen their understanding, and develop creative and critical thinking skills within an authentic context of inquiry or project-based learning.” Assistant Head of Primary, Mrs Janet Spark, describes it as “collaborative, and/or individual, problem solving experiences for purposeful outcomes, making use of computational and design thinking methodologies.” How does it look now? STEAM is at present occurring in various forms at RGS. In Primary, there are activities such as Year 3’s extensive Punnet to Plate unit (which includes a visit to the RGS Demonstration Farm at Port Curtis). Preps are using Code & Go Robot Mouse Activities to build mazes, which robots manoeuvre through. Year 5’s are learning, hands- on, about sustainable energy. In the Middle and Senior Schools, Design & Technology students focus on innovation and data-driven design work. Year 9 Business students conduct process- driven projects as part of their Shark Tank unit. Senior biology, chemistry and physics students in extended experimental investigations are drawing heavily upon scientific processes, as well. In addition, the 2018 Year 7 STEAM Experience, held later this year, will challenge students to solve real-world problems. All of these programmes run in conjunction with a burgeoning Secondary School Robotics Club, and a similar programme trialled with Year 6 students earlier this year as well as successful on-going Co-curricular activities, such as Reef Guardians, which is an active participant in the research and monitoring of our end of the Great Barrier Reef. What might it look like in the future at RGS? All of these interests, activities, programmes and services will be strengthened as RGS STEAM takes shape, evolves and develops. The scaffolding to which I referred earlier will feature elements such as: • A cross- discipline, cross-School ‘STEAM Team’ (who will lead research and development at RGS) • Frequent, integrated, School-wide focuses on, and celebrations of, each of the five disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) • External STEAM opportunities (for example at universities and with industry partners) • Real-world five-discipline challenges. Who do we need? A successful RGS STEAM programme requires a communit y of people wanting and willing to share their talents. Students will benefit from access to professionals from across a variety of industries, businesses and education sectors. These people – our RGS STEAM Ambassadors – are Past Students, current parents (and friends and relatives of current parents) and friends of RGS who will share their STEAM expertise and passions with our students. RGS STEAM initiatives and programmes will help our students become 21st Century thinkers and movers. RGS students are smart, passionate and driven to pursue STEAM-based studies and careers. My experience tells me they are ready to step up to any challenges presented to them; poised to create, investigate and solve in ways that haven’t even been dreamt of or conceived yet – with our help. Please consider putting some heat into our STEAM programme by contacting me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you. Read more: www.educationcouncil.edu.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/National%20STEM%20School%20Education%20Strategy.pdf; https://www.steampoweredfamily.com/education/what-is-stem/; Build a straw roller coaster: https://www.makeandtakes.com/summer-steam-project RGS Year 7 Teacher Alana Mikkelsen is investigating pathways and programmes that are set to further RGS students’ opportunities to excel at Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths. STEAMing ahead Years 7 and 8 students in Robotics.
CQ July 2018