John Vivilecchia, programme manager of MIT’s Beaver Works, shared his experience of involving high school students in hands-on projects through the Beaver Works Summer Institute.
Students take responsibility for forming their own project teams and are encouraged to model real-world organisational models by filling various roles in the team.
MIT’s Edgerton Center is a hub of hands-on learning, with a number of outreach programmes targeting K-12 students. Ed Moriarty shared the value of learning by doing and celebrating the importance of failure and the stories and lessons it gives students. One of the Edgerton Center initiatives includes the “Saturday Thing,” where students show up to an unstructured yet constructive environment and build all kinds of ingenious contraptions of their own initiative. I have been lucky enough to attend the "Saturday Thing" twice now and both times I have seen students utterly engaged in their work and making profound discoveries through trial and error.
At the heart of STEAM education is the idea that the meld of different disciplines can build learning connections and inspire innovation. This concept was brilliantly demonstrated by several MIT personalities who have transformed their various fields by fusing two seemingly unrelated disciplines together.
● Natalie Kuldell has combined biology and engineering with her work in synthetic biology to create programmed organisms that can help us solve important current issues like hunger, climate change and cancer treatment.
● Angela Belcher, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Bioengineering, shared how nature can inform how we create materials in the future, including carbon tubes inspired by the formation of abalone shells and batteries grown by bacteria.
● Seth Riskin, manager of the MIT Museum Studio and Compton Gallery, shared his work using light as a medium for visual and performance art, and ways art has been used to express and explain scientific and technological discoveries through the exhibits his studio creates for the MIT Museum.