During the first week of May, MIT hosted 25 NAE schools for the second annual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) Festival. Schools came together from all over the world for a series of workshops by MIT staff and students. The aim is to promote STEAM subjects for younger people to get them interested in all aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
The week was packed full of activities and workshops for the students and everyone had a great time.
Monday we were “drinking from the firehose” with a plastics workshop looking at the production and manipulation of polymers, making slime and insulating foam. This was followed by a talk and tour of the Koch Institute for research into cancer and cancer treatments. We actually got to see into some of the labs and the cutting edge research that was carried out there. In the evening, we went “Reality Questing” at Boda Borg, where we failed...over and over...showing us all, staff included, the importance of failure in progress. This was a really great theme for the week...failing forward!!
On Tuesday we had a unique insight into a unique course at MIT...becoming a certified pirate!!! We learnt about fencing, archery and cannons, having the opportunity to look at the science and technology that goes into each of them. A fun and explorative day.
Wednesday saw us all working together on another unique aspect of MIT, their 2.009 course. 80 students, 100 professors and lecturers and $10,000 per student to create something original and amazing. Our students were given a design brief of “make a new carnival game”. They went through the process of ideate, create, test to produce their game and by the end of the day, they had created some fantastic and fun games that people wanted to play over and over again.
Thursday was back to “drinking from the firehose” taking part in workshops to do with hydrodynamics and the shape of fish tails and propellers. In the afternoon we had a door opened into the world of computer coding using a circuit playground and a coding program. The students could explore how to make their circuit do different things, like detect noise, or movement or make different sounds or lights flash. They were all so good at this...the staff took a little longer to figure it out!! We were all treated to a Chemistry Magic show with various experiments to show the different chemical reactions happening. The luminol and hydrogen peroxide really impressed!! One of the highlights of the week was a theatrical performance from Marie Curie about her life and research. The students were captivated to hear about her personal life with her family and relationship with Pierre. These are the bits that people don’t often hear about with scientists but it gave the students a sense of connection with her and an understanding the despite all the hardship, she was still able to succeed with her research.
Friday morning was filled with some captivating “lightning talks” from current students at MIT explaining their current research and project work, from nuclear fusion reactors to rockets!! There were so many questions to be asked that we ran out of time. The afternoon was dedicated to seeing the very different campus at Harvard. More traditional in style and steeped in history.
The finale was a glow in the dark party at the NAE school in Boston. Plenty of neon face paints and day glow dancing!!
Around 11pm on Friday, 4 very tired kids and 1 equally sleepy teacher arrived at the airport and quietly joined the queue for check-in...a little voice broke the silence and asked “Mr Rich...can we stay a little longer?”...we all admitted that we didn’t want to leave!!