Wednesday, 20 July 2016

STEM with an A

Acting Headteacher Mrs Robson introducing the day.
Well, what a fantastic day yesterday was (19th July 2016). Broadwood Primary School had a STEAM Co. day and I was asked to host a Thinking Kit workshop. It was brilliant to see the creativity flowing through every corridor, classroom, hall and yard.

If you haven’t heard of STEAM Co. before, it is an organisation that promotes all of the qualities of STEM with a big extra A, for Art. This doesn’t restrict art to what we traditionally think of when we hear ‘art’, but more along the lines of what Seth Godin says, “Art is what we call it when what we do might connect people.” The ‘Co.’ also refers to a few different, but just as important, things - such as collaboration and community.

Nick explaining the inspiration behind STEAM Co.
On the hottest day in the UK so far this year, students, teachers, some parents, members of the local community, people from varied organisations and companies, as well as ‘Mr STEAM Co.’, Nick Corston (and his lovely, helpful son), arrived en masse to Broadwood, a school in Newcastle. I hosted one of 20 workshops, with lots of brilliant help from Jeannette Bowden (Broadwood) and Tracy Philipson (Bridgewater, another local school).

Children were free to visit whichever workshop they liked, whenever they liked. There were no restrictions to allow a free flow of creativity and excitement. The sweltering heat didn’t stop anyone - whether outside or in. I particularly liked the ‘passport’ idea as this encouraged children to visit a variety of activities to get their stamps and fill out the letters on their ‘spotters’ section to spell out a message.

Sugata's talk to conclude the day.
There was also a visit from Sugata Mitra, $1m TED Prize winner and builder of School in the Cloud, who gave an inspiring talk to the children to conclude the day. He talked about how if given the opportunity, children can be creative in their learning, they can teach each other and develop lots of skills in the meantime.

I’ll also write a post all about our workshop soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that! It was all about encouraging the children to create their own activities for iPads with Thinking Kit. Seeing the look on their faces when they transformed their ideas and research into an app-like activity for iPads was amazing! I’ll be sharing some of their activities with others.

Lewis creating a Thinking Kit task.
The day was all organised by Mel Horan, a teacher at Broadwood. Everyone was in awe of the variation and number of activities on offer to the students - you did a brilliant job!

For more details on STEAM Co, visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

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