Js Stem Robots Copy

For the Whole of Their Life.

Today’s play is tomorrow’s real world innovation: the Vital Role of Creative Play in K-6 STEM

Recently I listened to a podcast featuring the internationally renowned Finnish educator, Pasi Sahlberg. He now works in Australia as an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of NSW and Deputy Director of the Gonski Institute for Education.

Pasi knows about how children learn and in the podcast he spoke about his own children and their home learning during lockdown over recent months.

Their focus: playing with Lego.

Not exclusively of course, but a large portion of their time was spent building fantastic Lego machines, creating intricate scenes, and making and re-making stories.

The Sahlburg kids were innovating; thinking flexibly, problem-solving and learning collaboratively. And we know that these are vital skills for the future that awaits all our children. It is these skills that are core to the SPCC Newcastle K-6 STEM program.

STEM Program
For students whose preferred learning mode is kinaesthetic (learning by doing), STEM lessons help them to make sense of their learning because they learn how to do the Maths or Science, but also why it is important to be able to estimate and measure and calculate. It provides opportunities for students to showcase their outstanding creative ideas, perceptive comments and original innovation.

STEM Space
As part of the CIL (Centre for Innovative and Learning), the K-6 STEM space is open at lunch times most days. On any given day, dozens of students will bring their lunch and eat and chat while building Lego, teaching robots how to play hockey, CAD designing with TinkerCAD, 3D printing, playing with Sphero robots, or working on a class STEM project, such as building and testing an “F1 in Schools” race car.

STEM During School Shutdown
When remote learning commenced, a decision was made to put 3D SPLAT design tools in the hands of as many JS and MS students as possible, along with links to fun creative design projects. This simple tool enabled children to design a 3D Adventure Playground, an Ultimate Treehouse and more.

We were able to continue developing skills via video tutorials, and Middle School students electronically submitted their TinkerCAD Mother’s Day gifts for 3D printing. Students also CAD designed advanced aircraft, spaceships, space stations and more.

For some students who attended school during the remote learning period, STEM activities were very popular on our Well-being Wednesdays, when the students were able to choose their own enrichment activities. Popular activities were using SPLATS to design alien robots and crazy animals, teaching Lego robots to dance, and creative Lego play.

We celebrated our return to school by producing a “Happy Dance” music video featuring staff and students, which was created by students in the STEM lab, using Green Screen technology and iMovie.

It is a thrill to continually see such high levels of engagement from our students during STEM experiences because exploration, creativity and problem solving, are key skills to develop for the whole of their lives.

Brian McCowen
K-6 Director of STEM

The Life

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