Hi all, I wanted to share something I’ve just heard, Amazon are starting to support STEM in schools.
They have launched a new program to encourage students from low-income backgrounds to become interested in STEM and computer science, with the hope that they will pursue careers in this area. (Full article here)
At the moment it looks like they will be working with 100 students over 2 years to develop their STEM skills.
I think that sounds pretty cool.
Over the past few years Amazon have been investing in and developing a range of robots to help (or replace!) their employees in their warehouses and potentially with delivering parcels as well.
So I think its a good idea that they are getting involved in education.
We need more companies doing things like this so that more students get access to ‘real-life’ STEM. I think showing students how robots are being used everyday is a much better way to inspire them than showing them something like a space robot – space robots are cool, but realistically speaking not many people will end up working around them.
At the moment the program looks like its starting in Australia, I hope it grows and it will be interesting to see the outcome and what the students think about STEM in 2 years time, when they finish the program.
What we also need across schools is to give students a physical space where they can get access to STEM resources and play around, break things a bit and do their own experiments.
I know that will sound really scary to some teachers, but its true.
If we want to get realistic about STEM in schools, then we need to stop controlling the subjects and let students dive in and see what they come up with.
We need to give them the freedom to choose what they want to work on. Fill a room with robots, computers, electronics and a few user manuals. Give them trust and responsibiltiy and I guarantee you that STEM uptake will rise exponentially.
Because children naturally learn through play and exposure. Initially children choose rattles and dolls and simple toys to feed their curiosity.
As they grow, they don’t stop playing – that is our biggest mistake as adults that we enforce on children – but instead their toys need to adapt to their levels of intelligence and curiosity.
I believe all children are good by nature, they are curious and whilst they will gladly sit and listen to learn some things from adults, they will largely prefer to have a go and do things by themselves.
The majority of Schools do not create this kind of learning environment. Until they do, STEM programs such as the Camp Amazon one, will only have so much of an effect.
At the moment, the way STEM is taught is quite rigid and far too much of it is theory based around exams.
That isn’t what STEM looks like in real life. In real life, companies set an objective or goal – usually goals that seem impossible at the time. Take a look at Asimo for example. Honda had a clear vision of where it wanted to get to. It wasn’t an easy road, there was no text book to follow on how to build an Asimo. It was done through experiments, testing, exploring ideas and several, several failures and broken hardware.
That is what we need to be exposing students to in school.
Children naturally have brilliant imaginations, their goal setting is spot on. They will always imagine themselves doing the unimaginable – unlike most of us adults who rarely imagine ourselves doing anything above mediocrity. We need to create spaces where we stop crushing that imagination and help students to realise the full strength of their imaginations and what it can help them to achieve.