Students from Nord Anglia International School (NAIS HK) reflected on the first two days of STEAM Week @ MIT. They shared their journal entries with us and said they're thrilled by what they’ve experienced so far.
Day One, 30 April
They may have been tired and jetlagged, but that didn’t stop Kyle, Philine, Joseph and Maithili from NAIS HK enjoying their first day of STEAM Week @ MIT.
The Mystery Hunt, a playful yet challenging tour of MIT’s campus, was filled with puzzles and twists at every turn. However, it was the Like an Engineer and Boda Borg challenges that captivated our students.
“Today, I enjoyed using the hot-wire cutter. We used our own DIY hot-wire cutters to cut blue foam for our toy engineer work. I learnt today that if you use two D-size batteries and put them on two copper rods and wrap a certain type of wire around the two rods, it can burn through and cut blue foam. I was fascinated by this amazing fact,” said Mathili Parekh when describing what she experienced at the Like an Engineer workshop.
The need and importance of working together as a team and to pause and focus fully on a task were two big learnings that emerged from the activities students did that day.
This was best expressed in the Boda Borg challenge, a problem-solving exercise where teams of students are transported into a real-world gaming environment and move through quests, or various mental and physical challenges. Most of the quests had no instructions and students were encouraged to try them a few times before understanding what the challenge is about, as well as how to solve it.
“There are many different themes; it tests your determination,” said Joseph Ooi.
“The most challenging activity is the Boda Borg because it’s hard to know what to do,” said Kyle Yuen.
The students took each quest and challenge in their stride. They learned to trust one another and put an equal effort to help solve each one. The Boda Borg challenge also encouraged them to communicate effectively with team members, and verbalise how best they can contribute to the challenge.
“You need to collaborate with your team to solve the challenge. Today I learned you can manage and reach everything if you work together,” said Philine Kotanko.
Also, pausing and reviewing a problem creates space to process information which can improve the quality of learning for students. For Parekh, the concept came alive when she realised that in order to move forward to complete each challenge she had to take a step back.
“I found the rock climbing part of the Boda Borg quite tricky,” she said in her journal entry. “I overcame it by fully focusing and not rushing to get across. When I had accomplished this, I felt happy and proud.”
Day Two, 1 May
On day two, the arts part of STEAM learning took precedence. Our students channelled their creative energies at the Trashion and circuit-bending workshops where students took apart musical toys and then used different electronic components to get them to make different sounds.
Students were able to understand the importance of embracing what makes them special or unique, and explore how that can be expressed in the arena of product and fashion design. They also picked up the basics of good form and function of a product.
To kick things off, Danielle Olson, a PhD student at MIT, talked about what her life was like at one of the world’s top universities. Not only did Olson cover what she did as a researcher and educational technology enthusiast, she also talked about her passions, including her love of dance and a non-profit organisation she founded called Gique, which focuses on connecting girls to STEM via the arts.
She told students it was important to be themselves and embrace whatever makes them special. Philine said she resonated with Olson’s views.
“The day started with an emotional speech from Danielle – don’t give up anything that makes you special. It really touched me,” she said.
The circuit-bending workshop proved particularly challenging for everyone. Students were asked to dismantle toys and create new combinations – this wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be, said Joseph.
“The biggest challenge for me today was circuit bending because the screws were hard to remove, I overcame this by working on new combinations,” he said.
“I was challenged in the circuit bending because no matter how many combinations I tried with the crocodile clips the sound would not change. Even though I did not succeed, I kept persevering and felt determined,” said Parekh.
Ever heard of the saying “one man’s trash is another person’s treasure”? The idiom rang loud and clear during the last workshop of the day and arguably the highlight - the Trashion workshop. Students were challenged to take someone’s trash or rubbish, and turn it into a piece of wearable art.
“It was very cool; I made a t-shirt and a pair of pants,” said Yuen.
“I enjoyed being the designer and dressing my partner,” said Parekh.
To round off the day, a panel of roboticists talked to students about the research they’re doing, and the jobs robots might do in the future. One panellist, Marlyse Reeves, a first year Computer Science PhD student, is working on a mission plan for fleets of science robots to explore unchartered areas like the deep sea or Saturn’s moon Europa by themselves.
Our students will be learning and doing a lot more over the next two days of STEAM Week @ MIT. Follow us on this exciting journey as we uncover what our students are up to and (more importantly) the skills and knowledge they’re acquiring along the way! #NAEMIT