Exploring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics)

STEAM is a framework for learning and teaching, and one that underlines The Cube’s public engagement programs. The STEAM framework supports self-directed, hands-on learning, exploration and experimentation, connecting to broader ideas around the Maker movement and design thinking. In our increasingly interconnected world, it also provides an opportunity to engage in critical and creative thinking, and to consider different ways of responding to real-world challenges.

Last week, a group of teachers from Kelvin Grove State College visited The Cube to explore STEAM.

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The teachers spent the morning exploring the potentials of littleBits as a tool for learning by responding to the challenge: how might we use littleBits to create an age-friendly city? In a STEAM kind of way, they worked collaboratively with colleagues from different teaching areas (Chemistry, Physics, Arts, Design, English, Maths) to respond to the challenge. This involved getting to know littleBits, identifying the problem, reframing the problem as an opportunity, brainstorming new solutions and prototyping their ideas using littleBits. The challenge was inspired by the World Health Organisation’s ‘Age-friendly Cities Framework’, which identifies some of the common barriers to accessibility of older people.

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(Two weeks prior, a group of Year 8 students from the College’s ‘100 Futures’ program were provided with the same challenge. My brief was to introduce the students to littleBits, to connect their experience to a real-world challenge, and to engage them in future thinking. Throughout the day, the students also engaged in discussions inspired by the ‘Age-friendly Cities Framework’, which prompted them to consider: what is an age-friendly city? Why should cities become more age-friendly? And, how can we make cities more age-friendly?)

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Later in the day, the teachers were introduced to the basics of Arduino by one of our ARS Academy students.

A highlight of the day was hearing from Zach Lieberman, who was in Brisbane to make further progress on his residency project for The Cube. Zach spoke with the group about his practice and experiences crossing boundaries, blurring distinctions between art and technology, and the disservice of dividing disciplines at a tertiary and school level. He spoke about artistic practice as a form of research and development, and way of thinking of possible futures for humanity. As one of the co-founders of openFrameworks, he also spoke about the benefits of the open source movement (think: Arduino, openFrameworks, littleBits) as enabling a culture of collaboration, playing together, experimenting and jamming.

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Interested in learning more about STEAM? In 2015, together with the Queensland Museum, and kuril dhagun, State Library of Queensland, The Cube is hosting a two-day, professional development activity for educators called ‘Creative Lab’.

Creative Lab will enable educators to explore new ways to engage students with STEM content through the creative learning framework of STEAM. For more information, visit our education page.

Image thumbnail: prototype made by Christian McKenzie in response to the challenge using littleBits.

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