Top Singapore international schools and preschools are increasingly incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) or Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (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 technology programmes.
Canadian International School Singapore
STEAM at the Canadian International School is not just about 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.
STEAM learning experiences will integrate the appropriate subject areas depending on the learning activity. Recent STEAM experiences at CIS have included a project by Grade 1 students where science, maths and art were integrated into an activity to help students learn about forces, motion and design as they 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 and test possible solutions. It helps them to 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.
A word from a student
“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
Stamford American International School
STEAM-inn at Stamford American International School allows students the opportunity to explore, investigate and pursue their curiosities. They conduct inquiries, draw conclusions about how things work, how to build or develop, how to improve their designs and express their understanding in creative ways. This creates meaningful environments that promote Design Thinking. Students are thus encouraged to be challengers who push boundaries, take risks and think outside the box. Stamford American’s learning spaces include the Makerspace, the Studio and Lab Design, the Fab Lab and the Creative Exploration Corner.
KG2 students have worked on projects such as exploring force. For a weather unit, they invented a piece of equipment to help in certain weather. They used recycled materials to build a massage beach chair with an ice cream machine. Younger Pre-K students retold the story of The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf through designing and building the houses. They then testing the sturdiness of the structures they had constructed.
A word from the school
“Our young learners explore cause and effect, problem-solving and asking questions. In return, they used the skills learned in their daily lives. Students are encouraged to think outside the box, to have a sense of wonder and to investigate their curiosity. Also, to use STEAM-inn to help with problem-solving. STEAM-inn provides our young learners with a glimpse into the world of design thinking. For example, when our students learn about coding, this will lay the foundation for students to invent as they understand coding in a step-by-step sequence.” – Miss Christabel & Miss Zahra, KG2 Homeroom Teachers
Dover Court International School Singapore
STEAM is something that is naturally part of the Primary curriculum at Dover Court International School (DCIS). The school offers holistic and hands-on learning across the curriculum, and students have the opportunity to use their innate curiosity to explore ideas and innovate. Through Nord Anglia Education, DCIS has established a collaboration with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to help bring its STEAM programme to life. By tackling real-world challenges across the subjects of science, technology, engineering, art and maths, students at Dover Court develop transferable skills such as flexibility, creativity and communication. They’re encouraged to experiment rather than wait for instructions, and they learn that collaboration and critical thinking can solve even the trickiest problems.
Recently, the school’s Year 5 learners were excited to learn about space in their International Primary Curriculum unit, Space Explorers. They investigated aerodynamics, looked at how to best design a rocket with materials that are both lightweight and durable, measured and connected pipes, and looked at how pressure works. Bringing learning outside the classroom enables all senses to be engaged and students from across all learning pathways to collaborate.
A word from a student
“The rocket workshop was lots of fun. The best part was building the rockets and using the materials. My rocket only flew a short bit but Dylan’s rocket flew the furthest.” – Madison, Year 5
Nexus International School
Nexus encourages their learners to see the world from a global perspective. They’re taught to become independent through experiences within and beyond the classroom, and technology is embedded in the learning process to enhance creativity. As a STEAM school, Nexus encourages their learners to be creative in all they do; it has designed bespoke learning environments that guide learners to thrive. For example, the school’s studios allow learners to work across ceramics, art and maker spaces to explore their creative spirit. Nexus uses music and drama to nurture the arts. The school’s music programme offers opportunities for learners to participate and achieve their potential through bands, choirs, ensembles, orchestras and CCAs to follow musical passions. There’s a programme by the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA) that focuses on developing learners into confident communicators through areas such as drama, literature and poetry. Through LAMDA, Nexus is offering additional fine-tuned performing arts classes for learners who wish to pursue their passion.
The school’s innovative approach to learning has helped it secure the high-profile accolade of an Apple Distinguished School. There are only three such schools in Singapore; to receive the title, they were required to demonstrate educational excellence, a commitment to innovation and exemplary learning environments that aim to stimulate, inspire and impact students’ lives.
A word from a student
“I think that the way the STEAM framework is used in all the subjects makes sure that everyone is exposed to it so it potentially sparks new creativity and curiosity. We don’t just learn facts from books, we actually get to explore in a lot of different ways and it makes it very fun and exciting.” – Kaspar, Year 7
Kinderland Preschool and Infant Care
It’s common to see a STEAM or STEM model as part of a school curriculum; Kinderland takes things to a higher level by adding reading and writing into what it calls its STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading & wRiting, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) programme. The school says that including a focus on language literacy makes for a well-rounded education, fully integrating these and all other domains. The STREAM programme enables preschoolers to take on inquiry-based project work and learn these subjects hands-on. From idea development to conceptualising, researching and creating prototypes, to constructing and assembling the actual structures, children are actively involved in leading and problem-solving their queries. Adding fun elements into academic components gives them the opportunity to think, plan, communicate and break down a big project into sizable tasks; they also enhance their social skills and build resilience and confidence as they overcome issues during the course work.
Kinderland children put STREAM knowledge to practice with projects. An example is the 2020 initiative where they built functional tools that could aid in keeping them COVID-safe. Children went through the entire process of discussing and brainstorming, research and planning, drawing project designs, material selection, and creating prototypes before assembling and constructing the actual product. One of the tools the children built using recyclables was a foot-operated hand sanitiser dispenser. Projects like these take place in everyday classroom learning and in the outdoor play area at Kinderland. Outdoor learning experiences and STREAM projects excite curious children with an active desire to investigate, learn and know more about the natural environment.
A word from the school
“Children grow creatively when they engage in hands-on scientific enquiry. Through the iterative STREAM process, children develop communicative and reasoning abilities through brainstorming and discussions, as well as, resilience, a growth mindset and creativity. Their research, observations and interactions help in the creative process where they develop solutions to the problems they face when working on a project. For instance, when planning and drawing a new design that incorporates the best parts from shortlisted prototype designs, children learn to problem-solve and formulate the right proportion to include selected elements in their final project structure. For their latest STREAM, the children designed and constructed indoor garden structures that incorporate gardening water systems. They explore ideas where they can tap on green inventions that allow for indoor botany such as constructing vertical gardens and hanging gardens with drip irrigation and ways to manage water drainage and leakage. Kinderland children are involved in every step of the project where every task a learning opportunity.” – Dr Carol Loy, Director of Curriculum & Professional Development
15 locations islandwide
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