Learning - STEAM 18 May 2018

An exciting STEAM workshop weekend at TK

By Tonia Whyte Potter-Mal, TK PYP Coordinator
Photograph by CIS Communications

It might have been a quiet Saturday on 28 April, but the TK campus was abuzz with excitement. The reason? It was the fully subscribed STEAM Weekend Workshop. As families entered the gymnasium, they were greeted by an exciting buzz of chatter, music and movement.

With over a dozen learning stations to visit, families could begin from wherever they wanted. Not that it mattered, because there was a stimulating range of materials, objects, and gadgets to spark their curiosity and engage their senses at every station. Both parents and students were invited to collaborate actively on more than a dozen makerspace challenges.

This was the time for our TK students to shine as they applied knowledge and skills they’d gained from previous STEAM integration lessons. At the same time, they were delighted by the prospect of working closely with their parents to explore unfamiliar ideas and discover new strategies through play and experimentation. With the help of materials like make-dos, strawbees, cardboard-automata, catapults, simple robots, spin art, kapla blocks and lego, students went through a fascinating process of trial and error to achieve goals with their parents.

This ongoing dialogue with their parents, as well as the opportunity to build, create, design and experiment enabled our students to further develop their attributes of the IB Learner Profile. As thinkers, risk takers and communicators, students engaged in practical inquiries and deepened their conceptual understanding of what STEAM is all about.

As the event gained momentum, families became increasingly skilled at finding creative solutions for various challenges. The flexibility to move around the gymnasium encouraged parents and students to revisit stations to refine their design strategies. As they navigated through challenges with determination and innovative thinking, they also didn’t forget to consider the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ in relation to what they already know.

These questions are framed within the context of PYP Key Concepts:

  • Form (What): Eg what materials do we need? What tools and materials are the best ones to achieve this goal?
  • Causation (Why): Eg Why are we doing this? Why do different people achieve slightly different results at different stations?
  • Function (How): Eg How is the challenge at this station relevant to everyday life? How should we start?

In a nutshell, the STEAM Weekend Workshop was a great success. We achieved our goal of encouraging both students and parents to engage in challenging, sustained and uninterrupted play in a stimulating yet memorable environment.

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the students and parents who celebrated learning with us at this event. We also had two grade 6 students who displayed leadership skills by facilitating their own learning stations that were inspired by their PYP Exhibition inquiries.

A big thank you also goes out to Ben Cooperman, our STEAM facilitator, for his continuous efforts to encourage student creativity through design-based approaches. Finally a huge round of thank-you’s to Stephanie Cooperman, Tim Studlo (Digital Literacy Coach), as well as a group of dedicated teachers and parent volunteers who committed their time to supporting us in facilitating this wonderful event on a Saturday afternoon!