STEM

STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a wonderfully rich context in which to learn as it is so practically based and applicable to life. Kids love making things and some kids need more time to make things, test them to destruction and customise them in various ways. This is totally what we do. Our Aer0nauts teams have won model aircraft competitions for years with their creations - against public schools and universities. So we must be doing something right!!

In school I experienced kids being taken out of my Technology class to study extra English and Maths - because they were 'D' grade borderline and C grades is what counted. The irony is that D&T is rich in applied English and Maths and this is just what some kids need in order to learn it in context.

 

STEM is not an end in itself. Each subject of STEM is actually a tool by which to achieve something. We calculate and communicate for a purpose.

Some of our students with dyslexia achieved Silver and Gold CREST awards by dictating the content of their report to software.

 

The calculations they were using to work out the theoretical distance of a flight or the  centre of gravity of a plane or the decay of power in a battery of their designs could be very complex - but it was all contextualised learning. 

Design is the subject we specialise in the most. As professional designers we love solving problems and meeting opportunities, Design is arguably the most important subject to teach (I would say so wouldn't I!!) Whole schools could be based on Design  - in a way T&S IS!! 

In Design we:

  • first ask the client what they want to achieve

  • then we research solutions

  • if non exist we look to our own ideas which we develop with many prototypes and versions

  • we work out our resources and plan to make/create

  • we test it and make improvements

  • we use it and evaluate it and we start all over again if it doesn't work!!

Recognise this? In schools this was published in the 2000's as PLTS 'Personal Learning and Thinking Skills. And it threaded through every subject in school.

John Taylor Gatto  - a teacher from the Bronx in the USA is famous as a teacher for leading his classes though a process of deciding what they wanted to achieve and then allowing them out of school into the city to do their research or what ever it was. 

As a bank manager you need design skills, as a life coach, as a lawyer, and a chef or builder, or gardener . . . .we all need to identify the need and evaluate the solution. STEM is just one context for this but it can most easily be modelled in the classroom this way through 'things' we make.

But even if you plan to be a travel agent you will need Design skills!!

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