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Every year for the last 4 years, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has set Nord Anglia students a series of three exciting challenges for them to attempt.  These challenges are specially designed to help the students consider real-world situations in a fun and engaging way with playful and pretend problems that need solving.

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The aim of these challenges is to develop skills in creative thinking, perseverance, resilience, collaboration, and many more traits that will be transferable into real-life situations as students prepare for their adult life. The students are encouraged to think outside the box and not to be held back by a fear of failure.

We even have a STEAM expression that F.A.I.L. stands for First Attempt In Learning. We consider it to be an important part of a students’ learning journey.


The 2019 – 2020 MIT-NAE Reveal challenge is about discovering science through compelling images. Mr. Pooley and I had the pleasure of traveling to MIT last summer to meet and discuss the challenges with the lecturers that set them.

As a school, we have already completed the “Extreme Exposure” challenge set by MIT lecturer Allan Adams in February. The students had to create imaging tools that let them explore places they've never dared to examine before for under US$300. This was around the time that the Taal volcano was on high alert, so many of our students designed ways of monitoring the activity of the volcano remotely. One of the student’s projects even allowed us to collect accurate data on air quality around the school and impressed Mr. Kirkham so much that he requested that the students build a working prototype of their design.

The next challenge that we set was “A Different Lens” set by MIT photographer Felice Frankel. Students used thoughtful decisions about medium, lighting, composition, and digital manipulation to communicate complex scientific concepts to international audiences. I am sure that many of you saw these images on social media. As a school we were amazed with the number of students, and even parents, that participated in this challenge and the quality of their work. 

The final challenge for this year is being set by MIT Bioengineer professor James “Jim” Collins. He has challenged the NAE students to combine imaging knowledge and biology to invent a product, repurpose a technology, or design a new medical tool.

As we have all become aware during this pandemic, creating ways to diagnose the disease quickly, accurately, and inexpensively can have a huge impact on global health. Ironically, this challenge was set before the pandemic outbreak.

This challenge will be the focus of this week's “Be Ambitious, Be Better” sessions in Secondary. Students will research what imaging tools are currently available and how they relate to biotechnology. They will then research a health issue of personal or local significance and learn about its impact on patients. After this, they will work in teams to see if they can come up with a potential solution to this health issue.

We believe that by challenging our students like this early in their lives and developing these critical skills, they will grow and become the new problem-solvers for tomorrows world challenges.

- Oliver McGuinness, Head of Science


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If you want to know more about our school's STEAM collaboration with MIT, we are currently offering Virtual Discovery Meetings.

Make an appointment today to speak with our Admissions Team online, discuss with them your child’s learning needs and how we can meet them, and enjoy a multi-media introduction to our teachers, students, and facilities.

Click the link below to book your Virtual Discovery Meeting today!

NAIS Manila Virtual Discovery Meeting

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