This guest blog post is from Joachim Cohen, Education Outreach Program Manager for Intel Australia and Contractor, Creative Activation. It forms the first of a three part series on STEM Education.
A passionate educator, excited by the potential the 21st century connected landscape presents to grow, harness and develop the skills of learners as creators. As an Australia wide Educational Technology evangelist with Intel I am passionate about professional development for teachers with a focus on STEM and educational innovation to ensure the best outcomes for schools, students and teachers.
It’s time to #STEAM up the curriculum to invigorate student’s interest in #STEM
I thought I would start this journey with a statistic from an Infographic Intel has recently created
65% of students in primary school are being prepared for jobs that don’t exist yet
75% of the fastest growing jobs require STEM skills 70% of Australian employers regard their STEM staff as their most innovative
Maker / STEM Infographic with Statistic and Quotation Links:http://bit.ly/STEMInfographic15
There is a clear imperative to grow STEM, that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics competencies in our students, yet only a small percentage of our students take them up when given a choice. Sitting writing this article in Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Formerly the Powerhouse) I am struck by the buzz of students exploring the physicality of STEM. Jumping through spaceships and steam engines, laughing in wonder at the size of computers that physically define Moore’s Law and driving the Mars Rover. So, the conundrum is how do we recreate this excitement in our classroom to drive and keep students engaged? With the Digital Technologies Curriculum now ready for introduction in some states and to follow with a similar emphasis in others, the time might be right to start an integrated STEM conversation with maker technologies the inspiration for a project that can span the curriculum, incorporate digital technologies and ignite student’s imagination.
How can we ignite interest in STEM?
Bunsen burners, measurement wheels, scones and toolboxes are always on the agenda at any high school open day, exciting students about the potential of STEM subjects and driving their eager path to high school. Yet as the real year 7 begins in many schools this is replaced with text based scenarios and minimal real world connections. Adopting a project based approach to learning can provide a platform to combine all these skills in a real world situation. Students can be presented with or develop a driving question and then use a process such as design thinking to investigate, evaluate, deconstruct and propose, develop and execute a digital solution. The model below is an exploration of the components:
Further Information and Conext: http://innovationtoolbox.intel.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/A-Teachers-Guide-to-the-Intel-Galileo-Final.pdf
The challenge then as a primary teacher or a cross-curricular secondary team is to ensure this project or challenge has the potential to jump outside the text and get physical keeping students motivated and engaging their natural drive to design and engineer. Providing students with access to maker technologies can provide the key and the inspiration they need and the tools to help engineer solutions.
Jumping on to a website such as LittleBird or Sparkfun or delving in to Gary Stager’s Guide to Creating and Inventing with Technology in the classroom you will find a plethora of maker tools available. In the majority they are simple and easy to use but importantly provide students with the ability to create and engineer digital solutions as well as providing a tactile connection for online technology, computational and mathematical tasks such as coding and programming. Effectively bridging the divide between the digital and physical worlds and providing the means to integrate technology, design, mathematics and science.
Arduino microcontrollers, sensing and doing computers:
As the Education Outreach Programs Manager for Intel in Australia, I am fortunate enough to have access to some really cool technology, but it is something with a little less bling yet so much opportunity that is catching students’ and teachers’ attention across Australia.
An Intel Galileo Board in action
The Intel Galileo (pictured above) is one example of an Arduino compatible Microcontroller Computer….in non tekkie terms a computer that senses and responds according to how it is programmed. Using computer code (technology and mathematical skills) connected through electrical circuits (science) students can design (engineering) solutions to real world or simulated problems that take the curriculum out of the textbook and in to a students reality across the curriculum.
So what are some STEM projects you can do with a Microcontroller?
How about a Mars Rover?: A smart robot requires computational coding skills to program its functions, scientific circuit knowledge to connect all components, traditional wood and metal technology engineering skills to create an effective design.
Pimp that pillow or soft toy: Add lights, a buzzer and movement or touch sensors to STEM up a favourite textiles technology task. Students will need to code their pillow, develop circuits and engineer safety through design.
An Automated Model Home: With the assistance of sensors and internet connectivity a microcontroller can provide the basis for home automation, and with a little extra work create data sets for use in science and mathematics. Construction, programming and design of the connected home taps in to technology and engineering skills. A real, tangible project with a connection to a student’s reality helping science and mathematics come to life with the infusion of the STEM skillset.
A Mars Rover, a Landmine detector….whatever you can invent
These are just some of the projects students across Australia have created that solve multidisciplinary problems with maker technologies, and at the same time giving students a reason to need and get excited about STEM.
Are you sitting there reading, wondering where the A went from the title? Some of you may have already been converted from STEM to STEAM, A being officially ‘Art’ but I like to think ‘Anything’ agriculture, architecture, automotive, because I challenge you to name an area of study in which design, technology and engineering cannot play a part. STEAM plays a vital role in playing down the ‘geek’ and adding in the ‘glamour’ to drive momentum towards STEM.
Putting it all together:
Design Thinking especially when combined with maker technologies in projects like those we have explored, provides the means to ensure the development of learners and individuals with the well rounded skill set demanded in the General Capabilities section of the Australian Curriculum. Take a look at the diagram below for a summary of the skills a maker inspired Design Thinking approach can promote. This is of course, in addition to the cross curricular links inherit in project design:
But I can’t, I am not technical?
An enthused teacher, lighting up the harbour bridge in one of our training sessions
If I can you can! I am a teacher-librarian who has always shied away from code, but I am now inspiring teachers and students with the Intel Galileo. I can make lights blink, sensors react, buzzers sound. I have come to realise it is not about the code but about the thinking behind it. It is all about using the code to solve a problem and developing and tinkering with code and design is problem solving and computational thinking in itself. Actually as a language teacher I have come to see code as really just another language.
Are you inspired to begin your #makered #STEM #STEAM journey and want to know what the next step is? Why not take a look at all the resources available on our resource site the Innovation Toolbox. As part of our efforts to assist schools get excited about STEM we have created this community driven website, here you will find all the resources to learn and be inspired, including a highlight video that showcases physical computing is possible in both Primary and Secondary settings:
Galileo Teachers Guide: http://bit.ly/GalileoEducatorsGuide
Galileo Introduction Slide Deck: http://bit.ly/GalileoIntro
Sample Projects: http://bit.ly/STEAMProjects
Innovation Stories: http://bit.ly/InnovationStories
Innovation Playlist: http://bit.ly/InnovationVideos
Physical Computing Continuum: http://bit.ly/GalileoContinuum
MacICT Course: Introduction to the Intel Galileo: http://www.macict.edu.au/professional-learning/introduction-to-the-intel-galileo/
The Teachers Guide, a sneak peek at one awesome Curriculum linked resource
Where can you begin?
Many teachers and school communities are reticent to dive straight in to the integrated STEM/STEAM space. Visiting schools across Australia, many have begun with the introduction of a MakerSpace or FabLab, a place to show teachers and students what is possible with STEAM tools like physical computers before taking it in to the mainstream. Add an Microcontroller like the Galileo to a suite of maker tools such as a 3D printer, Laser Cutter, and basic maker technologies, and you will inspire a generation…in the words of Gary Stager ‘Making is the best thing schools can do to prepare students to solve problems.’ Source: http://innovationtoolbox.intel.com.au/intel-blog/learning-in-the-making-how-the-maker-movement-powers-stem-and-student-curiosity-an-infographic/
In the meantime combine a MakerSpace with the introduction of a Project Based pedagogical approach using Intel’s Online Teach Elements professional learning program and you are in prime position to adopt a Maker / STEAM mindset that fosters critical thinking and prepares students for those 65% of jobs that have yet to be invented.
Educators, it’s time to inspire a generation!
Intel Teach Elements Courses: http://bit.ly/intelteach
Gary Stager’s Guide to Creating and Inventing with Technology in the classroom :http://bit.ly/MakerSpaceGuide
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