“Innovation” what are the keys for us?

8 November 2017

The complexities of today’s world require all people to be equipped with a new set of core knowledge and skills to solve difficult problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information they receive from varied print and, increasingly, digital media. The learning and doing of STEM helps develop these skills and prepare students for a workforce where success results not just from what one knows, but what one is able to do with that knowledge. Thus, a strong STEM education is becoming increasingly recognized as a key driver of opportunity and innovation, and data show the need for STEM knowledge and skills will grow and continue into the future.
When “Innovation” becomes the keyword in our today’s world, we identify two components that need to bring out and that help make Innovation wide-spread in our community today.
Accessible learning activities that invite intentional play and risk. Activities that are designed to incorporate intentional play are applicable at all levels of the education. These activities offer low barriers to entry and encourage creative expression of ideas, while still engaging diverse students in complex and difficult content. In STEM-themed play, young people’s desire to design and create motivates curiosity in STEM and fosters a sense of belonging as students learn from and with others, and are encouraged to think in divergent ways. Through the process of exploration and discovery, they see that STEM is everywhere, that they have something to contribute to the field, and they learn to take a team-based approach to tackling real-world problems and challenges. These are the Engineering Design Process (EDP) we are applying in our Engineering For Kids courses.
Educational experiences that include interdisciplinary approaches to solving “grand challenges”.  STEM education engages students of all ages in tackling grand challenges. Grand challenges are those that are not yet solved at the local community, national, or global levels. Grand challenges may include, for example, water conservation or improving water quality; better understanding the human brain to uncover new ways to prevent, treat, and cure brain disorders and injury; developing new technology-enabled systems for improving access to health care; addressing aging infrastructure; or making solar energy cost competitive and electric cars that are affordable. Tasking children and youth with a grand challenge helps them understand the relevance of  Innovation and Improvement STEM to their lives and to see the value of STEM in addressing issues that better their own lives and the lives of others. The “Water Turbine” class above is helping children understand how to use water to convert water potential energy to kinetic energy which is part of the grand challenges for using clean energy.
These two components are the core of our STEM courses. We welcome any comments and suggestions to further make our courses innovate and bring innovation to our next generation.

Are we ready for Smart City?

27 October 2017

What’s a ‘smart’ city? There’s no one definition. For many city leaders — and especially the private sector —  the term has become a shorthand for technology that makes cities work better or more efficiently.
Smart cities are made up of smart people. You need them to build a vibrant community. You need them to build the well-educated labor force that today’s businesses covet. City leaders play a substantial role. A city’s policies and quality of life either motivate smart people to move in or push them away. And the quality of our education determines whether the next generation will be ready for tomorrow’s jobs. With our eyes on the future, here are our ideas to nurture our next generation of leaders.
Use games to help students see things in new ways. Children like games, of course, but just because something is fun doesn’t mean it can’t be educational too. Through our special course activities design, children will be inspired by some of the building smart cities technology and ideas. Activities like Natural Filtration, Green Boating, Wind Power Challenge are all well received workshops that allow children to think, discuss and action on go green and sustainable tasks.
Embrace new ideas to meet today’s demand. The world has changed dramatically within just the past few years and students need to be prepared with the skills needed to win not only today’s jobs, but tomorrow’s. Meeting that demand is challenging with an educational system that traditionally has been resistant to change. However complement your kids education journey with fun and inspiring STEM activities will not only motivate their learning but also give them “smart” ideas about “Smart” Cities.

STEM for Kindergarten/Primary Students – How to Install a lifelong learning

17 September 2017

By now, we’ve all heard about STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) — and its importance to our economy. Elementary school educators need to be generalists, being instructors of all content area topics. But when it comes to STEM, problems arise in that (1) they often don’t feel comfortable teaching STEM related lessons and (2) society ask them to focus more on language and math (only the “M” of STEM). So how to instill a lifelong love of STEM in kindergarten and primary school?
STEM education is active and focuses on a student-centered learning environment. Students engage in questioning, problem solving, collaboration, and hands-on activities while they address real life issues. In STEM education, teachers function as classroom facilitators. They guide students through the problem-solving process and plan projects that lead to mastery of content and STEM proficiency. STEM proficient students are able to answer complex questions, investigate global issues, and develop solutions for challenges and real world problems while applying the rigor of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics content in a seamless fashion. STEM proficient students are logical thinkers, effective communicators and are technologically, scientifically, and mathematically literate (Maryland State STEM Standards of Practice Framework).
To nurture a proficient STEM student, STEM education needs to be a priority long before a child reaches high school. Starting STEM development in early years at Kindergarten and primary school would help to challenge the current belief among schoolchildren that these subjects were difficult and only led down a specific career path such as “being a scientist”, when actually STEM subjects “open up a variety of career options.” (STEM skills should be ‘integrated across the curriculum, Telegraph UK)

STEM is naturally engaging and exciting especially for junior learners. From our observations:

  • students love hands-on and interactive STEM activities. Kids have a natural interest and curiosity in exploring how things work.
  • Given a student-centric instructional setting where students are presented with open-ended STEM problems, the kids easily jump into the activities, work together, and share ideas with one another.
  • students express joy in doing the activities. They find them fun!

Teachers in Kindergarten and Primary School are in the unique position of being with their learners most of the day. This enables them to integrate cross-curricular learning activities.

So much would be gained if all teachers—art, music, reading, social studies, math and science—were able to spend some of their precious professional development time on STEM. The principles of STEM—critical thinking, asking good questions, observation and exploration—are truly at the heart of every discipline. . School-wide STEM learning would enable teachers to work together to create unified curricular units that weave STEM concepts into every subject in a meaningful way. (STEM: It’s Elementary!, We are Teachers)

What to do, who to lead, when to start, where to go and why not later are questions from the field. We are happy to share our experience on STEM education.

Check out our School Program page for more information!

STEM course, STEM, Architecture

Engaging Children in early STEM Education

27 June 2017
Experts in education, industry, and national security all agree that there is a national imperative to graduate students with a thorough understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM.) But many parents and teachers wonder, at what age is it appropriate to start teaching STEM? And how can we implement these concepts into early childhood education? The answer is: It is never too early to start STEM education, and an ideal way to teach STEM is to go out into nature.
In Engineering For Kids Junior Program, we aim to introduce students at 4 to 6 to Engineering Design Process as a method of individual discovery and inquiry. Provide numerous opportunities for exploration into various fields of STEM through authentic hands-on experiences and real-world application and make learning interdisciplinary through fun and engaging hands-on activities.
By asking the right questions, we can help stimulate investigations where students are identifying objects, making comparisons, making predictions, testing ideas, and sharing discoveries, all while engaging various STEM activities. In this way, children can learn concepts from different disciplines in different contexts.
The research is quite clear that the best practice in early childhood education is to break away from passive instruction and allow for more play and investigation, and this kind of learning early in life builds skills and interests that serve children throughout their school years, and later in life. Lilian G. Katz, in STEM in the Early Years, lays out a case that the best practice for early education is to allow students to be active, engaged, and take initiative in their own learning. Long-term research also indicates that being allowed opportunities to take initiative in your own learning is not only good for STEM learning, but for overall long-term academic success.
Our Summer Junior Camp, Challenging to the Sky allows students to be active, engaged, and take initiative in various sky related topics like 321 Blast Off, Sailing the Skies, Over the River, Arches and Stomp Rockets.
Early childhood education should tap into children’s natural curiosity and give them ample opportunities to be active participants in their own learning. Natural settings offer children almost unlimited opportunities to explore and investigate, helping them build STEM skills that create a solid foundation for future learning
We are ready to Challenge the Sky now. What about you?