Creative Lab insights: 21st Century teaching and learning

Our Public Programs Curator, Jacina Leong, talks us through the Creative Lab program that took place at The Cube, Queensland Museum and State Library of Queensland on 1 & 2 May.

Creative Lab was a two-day professional development program designed to connect educators, curriculum writers and academics to STEAM learning experiences through hands-on workshops. Conceived by the Queensland Museum in partnership with The Cube, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2014 and delivered in May 2015, the program provided a platform to further the institutions’ commitment to creative, innovative ways of learning and teaching.

On day two, The Cube delivered four workshops, developed and facilitated by The Cube’s public program team, pre-service teachers, alumni and current students from the Faculty of Education, Creative Industries and Science and Engineering Faculties, a games industry veteran, and digital media artist/curator. Each workshop provided an opportunity to experience different technologies through a STEAM learning framework.

In the littleBits workshop, participants designed prototypes and pitched ideas for an age-friendly city. Working in groups, they rapidly brainstormed design solutions for barriers that prevent older people from living in an age-friendly city. Participants developed, tested, invited feedback and reiterated their prototypes before communicating their solutions.

Participants in the MaKey MaKey workshop designed video game controllers. Building on the standard hand-held controller, participants reimagined what a games controller could be by turning the whole body and other conductive materials into ‘buttons’. One of the highlights of these workshops was observing four students from Kelvin Grove State College as they worked alongside program participants.

Gaming veteran Matt Ditton and Lubi Thomas facilitated the CubeJam workshops. Using design and systems thinking, participants engaged in collaborative games design ideation to develop digital STEAM content for The Cube.

The Design Engineering workshops provided a platform to design, build and program a LEGO Education EV3 robot, using a mission from Earth to Mars as the impetus.

What underpinned all of these workshops were processes of collaboration, critical and creative thinking, and learning through doing.

The closing panel prompted deeper conversations about STEAM through the perspectives of Lubi Thomas (digital media artist/curator), who spoke about STEAM as a framework by which transdisciplinarity can move forward; Adam Jefford (Head of Department, Creative Industries, Pimpama State Secondary College, and 2012 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Fellow), who emphasized the value of project-based learning; Dr Kim Nichols (Senior Lecturer Science Education, School of Education, The University of Queensland), who spoke about STEAM as a way to prompt and foster inquiry-based learning, critical and creative thinking, literacy and numeracy; and Terry Deen (Teacher, Visual Arts, Design and English, Kelvin Grove State College, and 2014 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Fellow), who discussed the importance of incorporating soft skills into learning and providing a platform for students to be expressive.

Creative Lab did not aim to answer all of the questions, but rather spark inspiration, conversation and an understanding about the value of STEAM, how it can be implemented within the classroom and how cultural and tertiary institutions can support this growing momentum.