I’m Katya, a Year 12 student at the British International School of Chicago, South Loop where I’ve attended since Year 4. Last month, I was lucky enough to participate in a week-long event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made possible thanks to the collaboration Nord Anglia Education has.
Simply put, the MIT trip was one of the most valuable and unique opportunities I’ve ever had as a student! It was a life-changing experience. And it’s just one part of the various activities made possible through the collaboration, which touches all of us at Nord Anglia in one way or another. Whether it’s through professional development for our teachers, MIT challenges we’ve done on Global Campus, ‘Home Labs’ and ‘Ask MIT’ videos, or trips like mine to MIT, our collaboration is incredibly special.
That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to give you an inside look at this wonderful event. I hope it inspires any educators reading to dive further into STEAM with your students too.
A WEEK IN THE HUB OF INNOVATION
Being selected to visit Boston, Massachusetts and take part in the on-site experiences at MIT represents the highlight of my high school life so far. It was incredible from start to finish.
I was joined by 50 students from 31 Nord Anglia schools around the globe, all of us having won a place on the trip through an innovation and design STEAM competition at our schools.
The experience was spread across five days, giving us young STEAM-minded students the opportunity to engage with a whole host of inspiring lectures, workshops and masterclasses led by PhD students, researchers, and world-leading MIT professors.
While I loved all the activities on our agenda, a few that really stood out to me were learning about exoplanets and their potential for supporting life, taking photos of a water droplet with the high-speed imaging camera, touring the MIT nuclear reactor, and presenting at the mock UN Climate Change Summit. In addition to the educational program, we had an opportunity to take a duck boat tour of Boston and explore the MIT and Harvard campuses.
The week culminated in a hands-on project where we worked in teams to create prototypes of a sustainable and innovative toy for industrial production, using the technology and techniques introduced to us throughout the week. Yes, that’s right — we got to design and manufacture a toy during our trip!
SKILLS FOR LIFE
At the center of our collaboration with MIT is a focus on using all our skills and recognizing the importance of learning Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics as it makes us rounded and creative achievers.
When talking to the teachers who accompanied us about the benefits of this trip, there were two skills that kept cropping up in conversation:
As a student, I know that solving problems isn’t easy, especially when you’re working on immensely challenging projects like how to send robots to the depths of the Mariana trench!
When reflecting on the week, Roberta Amarante (a teacher from our school in San Roberto) said: “The trip provided a rich environment for students to expand their creative thinking. Exposure to innovative projects, scientists, working in teams and talks with alumni inspired them to approach challenges with fresh perspectives, fostering creativity in problem-solving.”
Teamwork is crucial in STEAM learning and our MIT collaboration recognizes this. Collaboration allows people with different skills to work together and combine their collective knowledge whether it be in coding, design, mathematics, and art, to solve problems from various perspectives.
Almost all the week’s activities are done in small groups, encouraging students from across the globe to come together and share their unique experience and ideas to solve diverse problems.
MY VIEW ON THE WEEK
STEAM learning is something that’s fascinated me all my life. I’m super passionate about its value, so having the opportunity to be here at a school that I’ve known about my whole life, working with students equally as interested and engaged as me, has been an incredible experience.
In fact, that’s something I love about being a Nord Anglia student — we bring together students from all around the world and learn so much about collaborating, embracing our cultures and sharing ideas. I’ve made so many life-long friends from all over the globe and I can’t think of many other settings where I could do that.
It’s hard to find the words to describe how incredible and impactful this experience has been for me. It’s been an absolute privilege and probably the highlight of my year – if not my whole educational career to this point!
Outside of the actual technical skills you learn here — theories and best practice — what this week has done is fill me with an enthusiasm and optimism for further study. I think these big institutions can sometimes feel like castles in the sky, but being there, meeting students and lecturers, walking the corridors, makes it feel real. It kind of brings to life what my future could potentially look like and makes me want that even more.
I hope this update has given you an idea of how grateful we are as students for this collaboration and its value to us.
Written by Kayta B.
A Year 12 student at the British International School of Chicago, South Loop