This year is the beginning of a new programme at my school and I’m at the heart of it. It is a STEM programme aimed at our grade 10 level and has enrolled 21 boys (reminder: we are an all-boys school) in an experience that delves deep into design and engineering concepts through the use of technological tools while leveraging an expanding knowledge of science and math concepts. The aim is for the boys to get to a point at some stage of the year where they are recognizing personally relevant real-world problems worth solving and building solutions using their STEM knowledge and skills.
We began the year with a retreat that focused on team building, introducing a design thinking model and scratched the surface of using digital fabrication tools that they will have access to throughout the year to bring their ideas to life. We have since looked at the idea of academic rigour and have established public portfolios to document our activities and thinking. This week, we have begun our first real design challenge through the construction of mousetrap vehicles.
The programme is co-taught primarily by a Science teacher and Math teacher and myself (teacher librarian). Each brings a different set of skills and ways of thinking to the experience and as much as possible, we try to blur the lines between our 3 classes (Science, Math, and Fusion). The boys also take Physical Education together and their PE teacher is looking at ways of leveraging the connection with the program to look at bio-mechanics and other ways of using Science to live a healthy lifestyle and to maximize athletic performance.
The Fusion (design) class is taught in the Learning Commons where we house a growing makerspace. Keeping digital fabrication tools (3D printers, laser cutter, etc) in the Learning Commons increases awareness of the tools throughout the community and improves access of them to all. The flexible and open space that is filled with resources and tools is ideal for a programme that is so heavily based in inquiry.
I will be blogging regularly about the programme at SGSFusion with cross-post being published here when I think that there might be topics of broader interest to readers of this blog. I encourage you to come by and visit. I welcome all input as this is a new programme and we’re figuring things out as we go along. No doubt, there will be many failures through the year that we can learn and grow from!