One school that has fully embraced STEAM is Sir Manasseh Meyer International School, which offers a dedicated design technology curriculum known as the Makerspace Programme. As part of this programme, students have access to a range of scientific instruments, visual arts materials and woodworking tools. They also have full use of technology such as 3D printing and robotics equipment.
There are plenty of benefits to Makerspace. It not only provides students with hands-on, creative ways to design and experiment, but it also brings them together to work collaboratively, an essential skill for the 21st century.
“Every aspect of our lives is affected by the technologies we use,” says Singaporean SARA AK, an Art and Design teacher and Makerspace lead at SMMIS. “Many of these have become such an integral part of our world that we barely notice them. Technologies today are the culmination of ideas, invention and innovations, many of which are revealed in the stories of the people who have transformed our world. Innovation requires an experimental mindset, and I want that for our students – to create ideas for people to help people.”
Traffic Lights & Toys
The application of technology across the curriculum at SMMIS has seen Primary School students immersed in the world of the “micro:bit”. This is a pocket-sized computer that teaches coding skills – students use it to create dice games and calibrate compasses, for example. In one particularly impressive project, they built a replica “mini Orchard Road” that included flashing LEDs on the buildings and even mimicked the algorithms of the traffic light system.
Meanwhile, the Secondary School students created virtual pets and used their micro:bits to bring those pets’ faces and emotions to life. And, in keeping with the theme of helping others through innovation, they also created toys for the Pre-School. In order to do this successfully, they had to embrace collaborative design.
This toy project was a game-changer, according to JASON SHULMAN, Head of Teaching and Learning at SMMIS, with a bigger impact than even he expected. “The Pre-School students responded with a sense of awe and wonderment at the older children’s creations,” he says. “It made the creators understand the capabilities they now have at their fingertips as they develop as makers.”
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