Launching innovative, hands-on approaches to teaching STEAM

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ISLAMABAD: Motivated by the need to radicalize the way students learn science


and technology in Pakistan, a truly instructive summer camp concluded at


Annies Early Learning Center and Friends Preschool and Activity Center with a


Makers Day, where an array of science products that the campers had made


during their month-long involvement, were exhibited for parents, students and


their instructors to take pride in.


An initiative of Oxbridge Innovative Solutions Maker space Islamabad-a social


enterprise is dedicated to taking science education to a whole new level in


Pakistan. The camp fostered constructionist, immersive learning with a focus on


Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM), and was hence


called the STEAM Camp.


“Our vision is to incorporate STEAM intensive curriculum in primary schools,”


the director of Markerspace Manzil-e- Maqsood remarked while elaborating on


the concept governing the STEAM Camp.


“Innovation, it is believed, is tightly coupled with Science, Technology,


Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. STEM is based on skills generally


using the left half of the brain and thus is logic-driven. However, in recent years,


studies have revealed that activities like arts, which utilize the right side of the


brain, support and nurture creativity, and are equally critical to fostering


innovation. STEM, therefore, becomes STEAM with the inclusion of arts, design


thinking, problem-solving and collaborative activities,” Manzil explained. This


way, both the left and right hemispheres of the brain are fully charged to provide


students with an unparalleled learning experience.


The current science and mathematics curriculum at the primary school level


(grades 1-6) in Pakistan is monotonous in terms of its presentation, material,


interactivity, and depth of information. As a matter of fact, even O and A Levels


students studying science subjects in the elite private schools of Pakistan do not


get a chance to learn through hand-on training and experiments because these


schools simply do not have any science laboratories. As such, students are left


with no choice but to rote-learn the content and reproduce it as an Alternative


to Practical examination which is purely theoretical. In this way, students are


robbed of the ability to develop in-depth understanding of the subject matter,


which eventually affects their academic performance in later years.


“A holistic curriculum that fosters deeper levels of understanding is paramount.


Here at the camp, we enrolled 22 students aged 5-12 years who work together in


a constructionist, collaborative environment on real-world problems related to


architecture, natural and food sciences, basic robotics, kinetics and automation,


and basic electronics. The idea is to stimulate the thinking, reasoning, teamwork,


investigative and creative skills of the students, so that they are able to think out


of the box and find solutions to problems in a more innovative manner,” Manzil


further added.


The camp course consists of four modules namely, arts, design and architecture;


circuits craft and electronics; kinetic art and automation; basic robotics and


programming.


Some of the most interesting exhibits included architectural models which


taught students how buildings and bridges are constructed; air-powered cars


which familiarized them with how machines move; skewered structures made


with clay; electronic bugs and a snap circuit disc which taught them how to work


with circuits and switches when making craft projects; and wiggle bots. The


participants also learnt paper texturing and chalk marbling. Other activities


included making a volcano using baking soda and vinegar and using yeast to


generate carbon dioxide. The concept of density was taught through a project


involving the use of everyday kitchen items such as honey, washing liquid, oil,


and water.


The Makers Day also featured an interactive session led by Pakistans first lady


cartoonist Nigar Nazar. Nigar has her own special way when it comes to handling


children. She taught them how, with the help of simple strokes, they could make


an angry man look angrier! She also aroused their creative instincts by helping


them draw objects with Urdu alphabets as a starting point.


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Published in: Volume 07 Issue 25

Short Link: http://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=15858