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  • A Warm Welcome

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STEAM and MIT at the British International School Shanghai, Puxi

The mission of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and other areas of scholarships that will best serve the world in the 21st century. Founded in 1861, MIT is a community of hands-on problem solvers with a passion for fundamental science and an eagerness to make the world a better place.

MIT’s interdisciplinary exploration has fuelled many scientific breakthroughs and technological advances including major contributions to the Human Genome Project, the creation of GPS, and the pioneering of 3D printing amongst many other things. At BISS, our STEAM programme encapsulates this spirit through the curriculum offered and we know that this will prepare our students well for their own futures. Below are a few highlights of what we’ll be tackling this year.


The MIT launch of ‘Elemental’ in the Primary school next month, will mark the beginning of three new challenges for our students. In December, you’ll be able to join us at our ‘Elemental Con’ fair to see how your child has interpreted and met these challenges.

For this year our challenges are:

  • Extreme Exposure featuring Allan Adams: Students will create imaging tools that let them explore places they've never dared to examine before;
  • A Different Lens featuring Felice Frankel: Student will use thoughtful decisions about medium, lighting, composition, and digital manipulation to communicate complex scientific concepts to international audiences;
  • The Picture of Health featuring Jim Collins: Following the work of this pioneer in the burgeoning field of synthetic biology, students will combine imaging knowledge and biology to invent a product, repurpose a technology, or design a new medical tool.

In the Primary School, our state-of-the-art Da Vinci Centre provides the perfect environment for pupils to explore our STEAM curriculum, which we continue grow - capitalising on the successes of our robotics programme, 3D design, video editing and prototyping. We are also focusing our efforts on the design-thinking process, on troubleshooting, on teamwork and of course on ‘bridging-knowledge’ skills. In this way, we can prepare our children for their futures – where creativity, complex-problem solving and collaboration will be required.

In the Primary School, our state-of-the-art Da Vinci Centre provides the perfect environment for pupils to explore our STEAM curriculum.

As well as the work within the primary curriculum, we also encourage our students to participate in events and activities relating to STEAM.

We will host our first Regional Nord Anglia STEAM Festival for some of our Year 6 and Year 9 students from 27-29 February 2020. All the schools within China will be sending children to our school to celebrate STEAM and the link we have with MIT. We will be creating an exciting opportunity for as many students as possible to experience the very best STEAM education in an event modelled on the best practice at MIT and their world renowned 2.009 product design course. There will also be opportunities for children in other year groups to attend similar festivals at our sister schools:

  • Nord Anglia STEAM Festival Y4 & Y7 - 13-15 February 2020 at The British International School Beijing, Sanlitun
  • Nord Anglia STEAM Festival Y5 & Y8 – 20-22 February at Nord Anglia International School, Hong Kong

All three of these STEAM Festivals have ECA which students attend to help them prepare.

Years 3-6 will be competing against other international schools in the first Lego League which is a VEX robotics competition organized through our ECA programme.

In the Secondary school, the Hamilton Centre is the focus of our STEAM learning. Year 7 will be looking at "A Different Lens" and how to capture science using imagery which has been inspired by Felice Frankel. She is a photographer of scientific images who has received multiple awards, both for the aesthetic quality of her science photographs and for her ability to effectively communicate complex scientific information in images. As well as working with still images, students in Year 7 will be working on video editing techniques.


Year 7 & 8 will both be taking part in the VEX IQ Robotics Challenge "Squared Away", which is embedded our secondary STEAM curriculum. Further details can be found online.

Year 8 pupils will use Godot software to create their own 2D games and Apps. They will also be developing their video editing skills and indeed their film-making by creating their own student version of Harry Potter. They will also be looking at "Extreme Exposure" through researching more about the nearby river and how to show what they find out to the community.

As our students progress through the school, the challenges that they face become increasingly complex and more open. For example, our Year 9 students will be making 3D games in Godot (similar to Year 8), but with the added complexity of running them through VR. They will also be working with Arduinos, physical programmable circuits that can connect to sensors which will allow the pupils to explore electronics and to create their own projects. Arduino can interact with buttons, LEDs, motors, speakers, GPS units, cameras, the internet, and smartphones, so Year 9 can be as creative as they wish! Finally, to develop their understanding of real world applications, we will investigate our third MIT project entitled "Picture of Health.” Students will examine new and interesting ways in which to diagnose and treat health problems.


Our eldest students at the school will not miss out either. Years 10-13 will be competing in this year’s exciting FTC Robotics competition "RISE: Force for Change”. It’s innovative, technical and great fun, one which pupils experienced last year – our ambition for 2020 is to be even better!

Finally, the school will continue to develop Virtual Reality (VR) and its application in education. We already have a classroom set of high-end Google Cardboard viewers that students can use with their smartphones to experience VR. We have now invested in an Oculus Quest and the HTC Vive Focus Plus which are the first mobile VR platforms that we believe could be suitable for classroom use. Throughout this year staff and selected students will evaluate the learning experiences that are currently achievable with these latest VR devices – so please do look out for these when you are in next visiting the school.

Mr Ian Broadbent & Mr Nathaniel Brown

STEAM Coordinators

MIT Our new approach to STEAM link image

Our Approach To STEAM

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