After school STEM Club: Learning Through Making
With activities combining science, computing, technology and arts, STEM club has always been popular with the MYP students. This year the club was taken over by Ana Yao and Alex van Zijll, whose interesting skills combination took the club to a new level.
By Ana Yao, librarian and computational thinking teacher
STEM is a broad term that is used to describe the integrated learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and it has become a major topic in education. Our school has been running the MYP STEM club for the past 2 years. However, this year, ISUtrecht has launched a new STEM club run by Ana Yao (Computational Thinking teacher) and Alex van Zijll (MYP Science teacher). The STEM club, with members from grades 6-10 meets once a week after school.
STEM is so much more than for example coding and lab experiments. The club exposes the students to a stimulating environment, where creativity, critical & logical thinking skills are further developed. These skills are necessary for any individual that wants to succeed in a rapidly changing technological world.
Passion and confidence
STEM uses a hands-on and project-based approach in which topics are carefully chosen to ensure that they are relevant to the students’ interests and real-world learning experiences. We promote engagement, exploration, learning through making and opportunities for students to develop the passion and confidence to combine knowledge and learning through a diverse set of subjects. As the creator of Scratch coding, Mitchel Resnick says: ‘The best way to help people understand the world is to provide them with opportunities to actively explore, experiment, and express themselves.’ On top to this, of course learning should be fun!
Our first lesson was about making fake snow by exploring polymers. Our students not only investigated the scientific aspect of the polymer itself but also explored how introducing different elements, such as food coloring would react with the polymer materials. The students were highly engaged and created beautiful solutions, whilst at the same time they developed their understanding of the absorption characteristics of the material. It shows how creativity and science are so interrelated. We are currently discussing whether to change the name of the club to include Arts, so STEM would become STEAM.
Our first unit was about STEM behind the scenes and we asked the question: What role does STEM play in a movie production? Whilst following the unit theme, our lessons have been a balance between science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The members have experimented with special effects for creating fake snow, motion capturing and creating light graffiti using long exposure techniques with low shutter speeds on a DSLR camera. As a result, our students have mastered how to use a DSLR camera to create a nice range of creative and fun photos.
After the first unit we moved into the world of Robotics and we created a robotic grabbing arm using Lego Spike. The arm’s movements were programmed using block-base coding in Scratch. (photo 4) The introduction to robotics went smoothly as most of the students had already a good knowledge on Lego construction and coding. If you are interested in the club and want to know more, please follow us on Instagram.