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April 27, 2021

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Steam education to build a future

EDUCATORS are faced with the dif­ficult job of preparing students for tomorrow’s careers — jobs that often don’t yet exist.

Many schools are interested in promoting STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning to help prepare stu­dents for the sharp rise in demand for jobs in these fields.

At international schools, the Inter­national Baccalaureate curriculum is paired with STEAM education from the youngest learners to the oldest.

The IB and STEAM are holistic models that focus on interdisciplin­ary learning. STEAM complements IB learning, and schools have seamlessly integrated the two by incorporating STEAM principles into IB education so their students get a well-rounded edu­cation with skills that can transfer to the workplace.

At Western International School of Shanghai, three of the six subjects are STEAM-related for Primary Years, with technology integration being a driv­ing force in enhancing the learning process.

The young students also touch on the other STEAM principles in their learn­ing with complementary activities and resources such as robotics, computer coding and “Little Medical School.” STEAM-based learning can also be found through formal and informal interdisciplinary experiences in many Middle Years Program subject groups, MYP personal projects and community projects.

STEAM, like the IB, encourages in­quiry, collaboration and innovation.

Learners of all ages are encouraged to engage with STEAM throughout their learning, but possibly the best ex­ample of STEAM incorporated into the IB is seen with WISS’ IB career-related program pathways.

The IBCP is a framework for students in their last two years of high school who wish to engage in career-related learning.

Students who choose this program are typically looking to gain lifelong skills in their field of interest and have a clear idea of the area in which they hope to be employed.

Two of the pathways, in particular, are great examples of STEAM at work: aeronautics and art and design.

These pathways combine the aca­demic rigor of IB program with the practical and professional skills and knowledge needed for a head start in that particular field.

The aeronautics program is a collabo­ration with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where students gain college

 Credits in aeronautics, engineering and aviation business.

This exciting pathway is designed for students interested in aviation, air traffic control, aeronautical science, engineering, physics and military and civilian aviation. It exemplifies the science, technology, engineering and math of STEAM.

Equally impressive, the art and de­sign pathway focuses on an entirely different facet of STEAM.

This pathway is accessible as an e-learning opportunity through a col­laboration with the Savannah College of Art and Design.

This exciting pathway is designed for students interested in architec­ture, interior design, photography, performing arts, video game design, or advertising.

IB can be an excellent framework for increasing STEAM opportunities for students.

No matter what your grade level, or which path your life takes you down, the combination of IB and STEAM gives students a critical perspective and ex­periences to guide them in years to come.

(This article is contributed by the school team of the Western International

School of Shanghai.)


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