Top Singapore International Schools and preschools are increasingly incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) into their curriculum. This allows students to learn, explore, design and make, in and out of the classroom. Here’s a look at what a handful of these schools get up to each day with their programmes.
Canadian International School Singapore
STEAM at the Canadian International School is not just using iPads, interactive whiteboards or learning coding. It’s an engaging, hands-on, student-led and inquiry-based framework that’s customised for all types of students and integrated across different disciplines. This approach helps students develop important real-world skills, including problem solving and critical thinking, that are so crucial to success in the 21st century workforce.
Recent STEAM experiences at CIS include a project by Grade 1 students to integrate science, maths and art as they learnt about forces, motion and design and built their own moveable toy. Meanwhile, Grade 6 students used 3D computer software to create scale models to study the maths and science behind natural phenomena on earth. As they work on projects, students collaborate with their classmates, conduct research, problem solve, test possible solutions and think creatively and critically. They learn to understand that the challenges they face can’t be solved through one discipline alone. Instead, they need to think creatively and approach problems from multiple perspectives.
“I’ve been working in the steam lab to help me in my personal projects. I also successfully organised a steam workshop with Mr Deir (CIS STEAM coordinator at Lakeside). Over the years, my projects have become more complicated! This year, I built a model elevator that could listen to voice instructions, using coding with python and Arduino. Through it all, Mr Deir and the STEAM lab were there to help me.”
– Noah, Grade 6
White Lodge International Preschool & Childcare in Singapore
One example of how White Lodge makes use of the STEAM approach in its curriculum is the preschool’s March holiday programme, when one of the outdoor play activities was water exploration at the water wall. Children at this Singapore international school were able to explore and discover the concept of science, learning about the importance of water for plants to grow as well as how water evaporates into the air. They also discovered more about rainbows and how they can be seen due to the effect of sunlight.
On the water wall, children explored recycled materials, including recycled bottles and coloured funnels and tubes. While playing, the children were able to observe the effects of water on spinning wheels and patterns when spraying or splashing water on the floor. At the same time, they learnt about measurement for water capacity when scooping water using different tools such as watering cans and cups.
From a STEAM inquiry on the theme of The Earth: “This is my science experiment; it’s a volcano. First, I add soap solution, colour and vinegar. At the end, I add baking soda. The chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda creates carbon dioxide that causes the eruption.”
– Soma Hsu, White Lodge Phoenix Park, Kindergarten
Dover Court International School Singapore
Through Nord Anglia Education, DCIS has established a collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help bring its STEAM programme to life. Each term, the students embark on a series of real-world challenges that include interdisciplinary activities that require critical thinking. This year, the students have been closely following the Perseverance rover’s landing on Mars. They focused on the issue of filtration, which is an important part of the rover’s work, as Mars’ atmosphere is filled with dust and particles.
Students from Year 1 through to GCSE Design and Technology have tested and explored how filters such as face masks, aquarium filters, and HEPA filters in vacuum cleaners and air purifiers work in our home environment. Projects like these take place both in everyday classroom learning and in the dedicated maker space, The Link. This gives DCIS students a greater understanding of current events as well as skills and tools needed for the rapidly changing world.
“The thing that intrigues me the most about STEAM is that there are countless ways to approach an obstacle. Some might be simple, some might be challenging and if you find yourself stuck there’ll always be a different point of view. Being able to use The Link during lunchtimes is amazing and I really enjoy the freedom we have in there.”
– Jasper, Year 8
XCL World Academy (Singapore)
The XCL approach to STEAM places emphasis on harnessing students’ creative talents and blending them with skills in analytical thinking, problem solving, entrepreneurship and leadership. Students start their STEAM journey from an early age and take their learning further as they move to the Primary and Secondary years in this Singapore international school. They learn the traditional skills they’ll need to thrive in their careers, while also finding creative solutions for 21st-century global challenges.
The exploration of STEAM, computer science, design and making for all student ages is supported at XCL by a wide range of facilities that are fully equipped with the latest design technologies, flight simulators, VR, 3D printers, laser cutters, Scratch and other programming language stations, electronics stations featuring Arduino and Rasberry Pi, hand and power tools and robots. Wondering how these technologies are incorporated in daily activities? During a Grade 5 unit of inquiry under the transdisciplinary theme How the World Works, students investigate concepts of force and motion and have to work in small groups to design a stomp rocket. Through this, the students gain an understanding of the different types of forces in our world and how they affect objects by changing their speed, direction of motion, and shape.
“Today, we launched stomp rockets! We were so happy to see them fly really high! We also filmed the launch of our rocket and created a slow-motion video to analyse its performance. It wasn’t easy to find the best materials and come up with the design. But in the end, it worked out really well!”
– Rika, Grade 5
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