At Stamford American School Hong Kong, preparing children to succeed in tomorrow’s world is a top priority. Our STEMinn program combines STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teaching principles with a focus on innovation in order to give children the core skills needed for their future work.
Our innovative inquiry-based STEMinn program is designed to create opportunities for students to develop the core skills needed for success in STEM subjects like science, technology, engineering and math, and social studies. These subjects are fully integrated into the inquiry units and are aligned with applicable transdisciplinary themes for authentic applications. In addition to focused study on the core strands of sciences including life, earth, and physical sciences, students gain an overall understanding of how scientists think and work within the scientific community. Our curriculum is anchored by the 3 dimensions of the NGSS/AERO Science Standards; Cross-Cutting Concepts, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Science and Engineering Practices. Likewise, our social studies curriculum is anchored in AERO Common Core Standards which allows students to gain an overall understanding of human commonality, diversity, and how multiple perspectives can be applied to the human condition. The overall focus is delivering innovative student-driven outcomes and integrating problem-solving/critical-thinking across the curriculum.
What Skills Are Needed for the Future?
The World Economic Forum recently listed the top skills required for what has been deemed the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” to include higher-order thinking skills such as complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity among other “soft skills” that can’t yet be mimicked by artificial intelligence.
The STEMinn program at Stamford, commencing at age five was developed to drive innovative thinking as well as expand the higher order thinking skills needed to be successful upon graduation. The innovation component added to the STEM program allows students more opportunities to engage in design thinking in the following steps:
This design thinking process transforms an idea into a practical solution which solves a real-world problem. Students engage in design thinking through both individual and team projects. This approach to learning brings creativity to life while developing skills such as problem-solving, coordination with others and project management skills. Deep learning for the students comes during the evaluation phase where students learn how to improve their work; this phase often is the beginning of further exploration, not the end.
What are some examples of projects students have done?
A large scale project for lower elementary was part of our “Light Up Learning” event where students gave multimedia presentations about renewable energy and built solar lights to donate to Papua New Guinea. Grade 4 to 7 students designed, built and tested various styles of boats starting with a visit to the Volvo Ocean Race. Life-sized boats built by the Grade 6 and 7 students were even put to the test in the Stamford swimming pool!
Examples of small scale STEMinn projects are, making solar ovens, building geometric shapes with 3D pens, circuit making, prototyping and making models using low tech tools. All projects are guided by the 3 pillars of the program: Imagine, Design, Create for generating innovative outcomes. The STEMinn program nurtures other tech skills such as coding, robotics and using a variety of Apps to bring ideas to life across disciplines including augmented reality. This combination of technology and building a strong foundation of critical thinking skills, problem-solving and collaboration skills ensures that students are ready for the challenges of life beyond their schooling.