STEM education is about providing students with thinking and problem-solving skills to thrive in the 21stCentury workplace. At Pensmith STEM International we love teaching and learning through STEM Education. Let’s take a look at what the STEM is in STEM Education.  

The late 20thCentury saw the need for more people in the workforce in science and engineering fields.  Governments around the world started looking at how to respond to this. The result was the increasing focus on STEM education. Governments around the world, including Thailand, understand the importance of STEM Education in developing the skills needed for the jobs of the future.

STEM Education is not access to more science, technology, engineering or maths.  It is not just about science or maths competitions, although these, especially the Formula 1 in Schools STEM Challenge, can be a lot of fun!  STEM education is a movement towards increasing connectedness of subject areas, hands-on learning by doing, and learning in a real-world context.

How are STEM subjects linked?

If we look at each of the STEM subjects we can see how they are linked and why we learn them:

  • Science is about understanding our natural world.  As we learn the scientific process we discover ways of asking questions and then testing these questions to come to conclusions.  
  • Technology is the application of our scientific understanding.  We use a problem-solving approach, which stems from the Engineering Design Process, to look at a problem or challenge.  This starts with considering who the solution is intended for. Then defining the problem, and generating possible solutions. Following this, we make a prototype. Finally, testing whether this solution will work for the user.  
  • Engineering is all about problem-solving!  Using the Engineering Design Process students look at ways of understanding a problem to improve our lives.
  • Maths is the language and foundation for the development of logical thinking and reasoning which are used for problem-solving.  Maths helps us understand patterns for us to engineer new technologies, create models which help to develop solutions to real-world problems.

Therefore, the link between these core STEM areas is the foundation of developing our thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Pensmith STEM – Projects with Global Goals

At Pensmith STEM International we deliver our curriculum through projects based on themes related to the 2030 UN Goals for Sustainable Development. We talked about this in a previous post. These themes include Gender Equality, No Poverty, and Affordable and Clean Energy. Therefore, students are explicitly exposed to real-world problems and challenges. Consequently, demonstrating the relevance and importance of what they are learning. 

The Themed Projects, referred to as “STEM Projects”, have an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.  Additionally, benefitting from the integration of other subject areas including English, Geography, History, Art, Music and ICT.  Click here for an example of a STEM project.

STEM Projects combine skills and knowledge from across the curriculum. This develops students’ ability to work in teams to promote their critical thinking and problem-solving skills through discovery and exploratory learning. Students develop and research ideas and work towards developing solutions to real-world problems.

How we decide on Projects

There are four principles which guide the development of worthwhile projects: 

1. Sustainable: Our Projects incorporate real-world problems through UN Sustainability Goals and focus on quality and sustainable solutions.
2. Transferable: Projects should allow students to develop skills, knowledge and understanding that is transferable for use in future projects and activities.
3. Engaging: Projects should be engaging, inspiring students taking an active role in completing the project. 

4. Meaningful: Projects develop and create meaningful products and outcomes which have impact on, and contribute to the community. 

Across the projects, students are expected to

  • Develop their 21st Century Skills
  • Develop skills relating to project management, time management, resource management and financial management. 

We believe that STEM Education is an outstanding way to prepare children for the future.  Please contact us if you want to find out more. 

In this project, students were asking the question “How is plastic pollution affecting our Oceans?   The 4 UN sustainability goals in focus were: Life Below Water, Responsible Consumption and Production, Clean Water and Good Health and Well Being.

Students explored the work of Greenpeace in Thailand and read news articles about ocean animals, including the plight of the pilot whale that died in Songkhla province.  The whale died with 8kg of plastic waste inside its stomach.  Using recycled materials students re-created a model of the whale, complete with eaten plastic to raise awareness of the issue.

Students undertook persuasive writing to write a letter to their parents to encourage their families to stop using plastic straw, which is a particular problem to ocean life.

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Save the turtles

Using the design process students created Lego models of turtles and whales.  Then developing their programming skills with Lego WeDo to have the models move and communicate.

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Students then headed to Bang Saen beach to clean the beach to help reduce the amount of plastic ending up in the sea.

Students created designs for fabric bags supporting their cause of stopping the use of plastic bags. Students took these bags and campaigned outside 7-Eleven to increase awareness of the issues.  Students handed out their fabric bags to members of the local community and customers of 7-Eleven.

 

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Please help support sustainability and life in our oceans. Reduce, reuse, recycle and wherever possible stop using plastic.

 

At Pensmith STEM our curriculum through the UN sustainability goals expose students to real-world problems and how what they are studying is relevant.   Students undertake these projects which combine skills and knowledge from across the curriculum. This develops students’ ability to work in teams, promote their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, develop research skills, and ideate solutions to real-world problems, all through discovery and exploratory learning.

Subjects / Skills directly related to the project: English, Science, Geography, Art, Design, Engineering, Technology.

21st Century Skills Developed: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Leadership

 

 

Research by the University of Maryland has found that your mindset contributes to your creativity, which they referred to as the Creativity Stereotype Effect.  If you think you are creative, your chances of being creative increase, and thinking your not creative can decrease your creativity.  Therefore, everyone can be creative by working on our mindset.  At PensmithSTEM we focus on the development of 21st Century skills through STEM education.  The development of students’ creativity is an area where teachers can have a huge impact on developing this essential 21st Century skill.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0142567

 

A recent World Economic Forum article (http://buff.ly/2pc1wn1) by Christopher Brown, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education at the University of Texas at Austin, questioned whether there is enough play time in pre-school and kindergarten?

The article discusses how the trend is for teacher led academic learning, with little time for play. A focus on academic learning over social and emotional development.  Whereas break times allow for students to restore their energy and attention for learning.

At PensmithSTEM our teachers deliver child centred learning and students experience learning through play and hands on learning.  These opportunities allow our students to interact with their peers in a natural setting, learn to solve problems an essential 21st Century skill.

Our Kindergarten learning spaces (no more classrooms!) integrate both indoor and outdoor learning areas where children can play, explore and learn, allowing their development academically, socially and emotionally.

If you have ever wondered why we learn equations such as E=MC² and Pythagoras theorem at school? This World Economic Forum video shows that they have very practical and useful applications that we use every day.  At PensmithSTEM our students learn the practical applications and real world examples of what they are learning, preparing our students for 21st Century careers.

Self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and virtual assistants: Hey, Siri!  These are just some of the phenomenal developments we are seeing that are coming to define the current technological revolution.

“The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent… it is disrupting almost every industry.… And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

  – Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, WEF

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum argues the current technological revolution we have entered will be fundamentally different, not only in the speed of development but also as it will change who we are, our identity.   This is in contrast with previous industrial revolutions which were characterised by improvements in the way we did things resulting in mechanisation, mass production, and automation.

With a change, there is a challenge and an opportunity, and lots of questions!   What are the impacts on our lives, our decision making, our careers, on business, our culture, on society and on Education?  How can we adapt and use these technologies to benefit us and our communities? What jobs will be created to meet the needs of this revolution?  What knowledge, skills and characteristics are needed?  How must we do to prepare?

As governments, societies, schools and teachers look for answers, themes relating to 21st Century Skills and STEM education are regularly heard and talked about.  What are 21st Century skills? What is STEM education? How can they help?  Our future posts will share our thoughts about these questions as we look in more depth at 21st Century skills and STEM Education.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/

Now recruiting : teaching and leadership opportunities

PensmithSTEM will open in August 2017 and is now recruiting for the following positions:

For August 2017 start:

  • KS1 teacher
  • Upper KS2 teacher
  • Middle School teacher (Maths and Science)
  • Middle School teacher (English and Humanities)
  • EAL specialists (3)

 

 

PensmithSTEM will open in August 2017.

At PensmithSTEM we believe that through outstanding integrated learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths alongside English Communication Skills, alongside the environment, curriculum and 21st Century learning experiences that will prepare our students for the skills they will need in future jobs and careers.

At PensmithSTEM our vision and mission is to develop globally responsible citizens who are prepared to meet the demands of our changing and developing world.

To do this our community will:

  • Be a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths education
  • Instill 21st Century Skills in our community
  • Create 21st Century Learning Environments
  • Thrive as leaders, innovators and citizens