NAE STEAM Festival at MIT
“Mind and Hand”, “Interdisciplinary” and “Teamwork” are the words we were greeted with in our welcome talk at MIT a fortnight ago. These words incorporate the motto of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the values at the very heart of the Nord Anglia STEAM festival at MIT.
St Andrews International School Bangkok students Keoni, Niio, Pat and Ohm teamed up with students from The British International School in Abu Dhabi for the first challenge: The MIT Puzzle Hunt. This activity allowed us to see the incredible buildings around the MIT campus, both old and new, solving puzzles along the way. It did not take us long to realise we were in a very special place, with an exciting and awe-inspiring week ahead of us.
And we were not disappointed! Throughout the week we attended several workshops, where we had a chance to explore the latest technology in 3D printing and photography, and learned how to take apart old toys and give them new functions through circuit bending. In the lecture theatres we learned about the groundbreaking research currently underway at MIT, which had the students asking questions like: Aren’t you worried your exoskeleton will develop a mind of its own?
In the List Visual Arts Centre, the MIT students held an expo of their current inventions, where we could see the intersection between Science, Technology and Art. Pat spoke to students who had genetically engineered fluorescent proteins from sea anemones to create art, Keoni played a piano that lit up a dress, and Ohm enjoyed seeing art come to life in a tunnel of murals using the “Artivive” Augmented Reality app.
The students also had the chance to experience, in one day, the iconic “2.009” Mechanical Engineering course at MIT. The 104 students were divided into teams with MIT mentors to develop an innovative product, that would help improve the life of a person with a disability. Niio’s group built a beginners’ braille keyboard that read out the letter when touched.
There were several activities outside of MIT, which included a tour of Harvard University and Duck Tour of Boston and a trip to the New England Aquarium. Perhaps the most exciting and anticipated of activities was “Boda Borg”, where students were transported into a real-world gaming environment, moving through quests tackling a variety of mental and physical challenges.
Throughout the week we gained an insight into the lives of some of the students and graduates at MIT, and began to understand their motivation for pursuing a career in STEAM. A message frequently conveyed was the importance of making the world a better place - whether through the arts, technology, medical research or sustainable design.
Another thing that we were struck by was the many clubs and societies advertised around the campus. In order to be successful in their fields, MIT students need more than high grades in Science and Maths, they need to be excellent communicators, creative problem solvers and team players with interests outside the lecture theatre or the lab. We met PHD students who ran storytelling podcasts, and watched an improvised comic performance in which all of performers were Science graduates at MIT. The art and sculptures on campus were incredible. It was a great reminder that we don't all fit into one box, and that our abilities and talents can be properly fostered by making links between the subjects we love.
IB Workshops at St Andrews