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Why are real-world events so important to STEAM education?

23 February 2021

Your child’s natural desire to learn, experiment and question is fundamentally important to their education and development, so at The British International School Abu Dhabi, we do not give our students all of the answers. Instead, we give them some of life’s most interesting questions and challenges, and the tools to tackle them. Our aim for your child is that they learn creativity and resilience throughout their education with us. When they leave school and take their first steps into university and beyond, we want them to do so with the confidence of real global citizens. The question is, how do we teach that?

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Exploring real-world challenges with STEAM

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, but it equates to more than a series of subjects. Whether in the classroom or through our extra-curricular platform Global Campus, our teaching and thinking around STEAM is the key to your child learning about their impact on the world around them and how exciting the possibilities are.

You will recall that from a young age your child began to explore their surroundings and from there, their perspective grew. STEAM takes this natural curiosity which students have as young learners in Early Years and Primary, through to their teenage years in Secondary School, and builds on it with a contextualised, skills-based approach to teaching. It encourages the natural instincts your child has for learning about where they are, how things work as they do, and why it matters, and asks them to apply that curiosity to solving real-world challenges.

Our exclusive collaboration with MIT

Underlying our STEAM education is our exclusive collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This relationship with MIT brings opportunities to our students which go far beyond their curriculum and the classroom. Your child might participate in our new MIT Abstracts series which gives them access to lectures with MIT professors, learning about what they are researching and the impact it will have on our lives, take on classroom or special at-home science challenges like our new Home Labs series, or even visit the MIT campus. The objective behind all MIT teaching is for students to understand and identify a real problem, and collaboratively take on the challenge of finding a solution to it - truly putting their creativity to test.

Our most recent STEAM challenge

During the annual House Day event at BIS Abu Dhabi, students complete a STEAM challenge to gain points for their relevant house. This year, students in Years 10-13 built a robot hand made out of paper and straws. Despite the challenging nature of current COVID-19 restrictions, they still managed to collaborate and produce designs that could not only move, but also pick up and move other objects!

Our students are now taking part in the Global Campus monthly STEAM challenges. Each month, a new challenge is set that requires students to apply their imagination and STEAM knowledge to a new context. February’s STEAM challenge was called ‘Elevator engineer,’ which involved students being set a task to design and build a prototype for a schools elevator. They had to ensure it was well balanced, be able to transport heavy loads up several floors, and needed to be as energy efficient as possible.

The current STEAM challenge for March is called “Trashion designer”, where students are being challenged to use ‘trash’ as a resource, and create a wearable item. This can be an item of clothing, a piece of jewellery a hat or a bag. They can upcycle old clothes, or clean up and repurpose something that is considered rubbish.  

STEAM for young minds

From our youngest years through to our oldest students, the role of STEAM is to teach core subjects by contextualising them. STEAM careers has been promoted through Primary, and students have been encouraged to consider all the jobs that have a STEAM element. As part of their learning, our Primary students have been introduced to our Global Campus hacking challenge. In a movement to combat Sustainable Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and also to develop STEAM skills, the students have been busy developing a superhero vehicle, using waste material from home. 

Global citizenship in the community

We believe that the full value of STEAM is not just in the classroom, but in getting out into the local community. This can be put into practice in lots of different ways. We may ask our students to identify an issue, like a lack of recycling infrastructure, and find a solution to it, for example. Going further afield, our students also all have the chance to attend citizenship expeditions, such as taking part in sustainable development and construction programmes in Tanzania and attending trips to Masdar city, Abu Dhabi sustainable building development, which is powered by renewable energy. Our students are also part of the Global social leaders programme, where one of our students were successful in winning the Global Goal competition. 

Discover more

Whether at home or abroad, STEAM learning provides amazing experiences which teach our students about what being a global citizen really means. For more on how we teach STEAM, please visit our STEAM page or get in touch with our admissions team.