STEAM education refers collectively to the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics disciplines. Engaging with tasks that incorporate the STEAM disciplines, promotes the development of a range of 21st century skills including problem-solving, critical analysis and creative thinking. Optimise Learning’s Mission STEAM™ tasks involve students taking a problem-based or inquiry approach, to design and create solutions for specific challenges.
Optimise Learning’s Mission STEAM™ tasks engage students in processes such as:
- identifying issues and problems
- posing questions
- providing explanations
- drawing evidence-based conclusions
- designing, testing and modifying
- creating solutions.
Optimise Learning’s Mission STEAM™ challenges provide students with the opportunity to develop capabilities in:
- thinking and working in collaboration with others
- problem solving
- critical thinking
- communication skills.
Whilst Optimise Learning’s Mission STEAM™ challenges are designed to be enjoyable and engaging for students, they are also designed to develop their skills in collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. As our future innovators, educators, researchers and leaders, it is important for today’s students to develop these skills, as they have been identified by research, as the skills todays students require, to succeed in the 21st century workplace.
Optimise Learning’s Mission STEAM™ Trial
Having taught at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School for several years before leaving to establish Optimise Learning, I was aware of the amazing work Jackie Child, Junior School Technologies Coordinator at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School and founder of Tinkering Child, does with the girls in a range of areas including STEAM, coding and robotics.
Jackie also lectures at university and presents professional learning to teachers on these subjects, which is why I contacted her to ask if we could trial our first Mission STEAM™ challenge with the students of St Aidan’s. Both Jackie and the St Aidan’s students have a lot of experience and expertise in STEAM activities, and were therefore positioned to provide us with valuable and constructive feedback. Fortunately Jackie agreed to accomodate our request, and the Optimise Learning Mission STEAM™ trial was scheduled at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School earlier this month.
To provide an authentic context for the mission, Year 5 students were given a poem-see below, to read and discuss a few days before the mission was revealed.
By: C.A Speakman
Aloft in the blue gum, the grey furry ball,
with claws nature gave to save any fall.
Seeking the choicest of leaves, he passes the day.
An idyllic life you may say!
The roar of the dozer, the death cry of trees.
The steel monster approaches, no sapling it leaves
Where does he go to? Where does he feed?
Into extinction to sate mans greed?
Students were asked to ‘create a mechanism to remove the koala from the tree safely’. For the purposes of this trial, the koala was represented by a small teddy bear, and the tree was represented by a Lego tower that measured 1 metre from the top of the table it was positioned on. The girls were asked to use the ‘robotic cardboard hand’ they had designed and created, to take the bear from the top of the Lego tower and lower it down to the table without dropping it.
Due to time restrictions the girls watched several short videos detailing how to construct a ‘robotic hand’, using everyday materials. Ideally students would be given the time to design, test, modify and adapt their creations without instructions, providing them with a greater opportunity to develop their skills in innovation and design.
The students were given cardboard, straws, paper, string and tape to create their ‘robotic hand’. The girls were organised into teams, and discussed their ideas, then designed and drew their plans. They then constructed their ‘robotic hand’ within the specified time frame.
After some initial trial runs with the teddy bear, the girls made adjustments to their designs and then attempted their mission. Most teams completed the mission successfully- but importantly the girls worked well together, engaged with a range of STEAM concepts and had a lot of fun, see some of their comments below.
“I really enjoyed the mission because it was fun and challenging at the same time. It was good working with different girls in the class too”.
“I love making things out of old recyclables, it is so good for the environment-so it was good that the mission used things that can be recycled – except for the straws.”
“It was so fun- I loved everything about the mission. I am going to try making a hand that you can move, at home”.
If you would like to learn about our Mission STEAM™ challenges, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.