Science has definitely changed the way we live over the last few decades. Thanks to advancements in Science and technology, a computer that once used to take up an entire room can today fit into our pocket. How cool is that? Just popping into the Science Centre or ArtScience Museum and seeing the many interactive exhibits that weave Science into them is also enough to blow anyone’s mind, both young and old.
However, when it comes to buckling down and learning it in school, it’s a different story altogether. Not every child gets excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). Which is why some schools have stepped up to the challenge by making their STEAM curriculum more innovative.
From investigative learning to hands-on experiments, we take a look at how some international schools in Singapore are instilling a love for STEAM in their students. Some of these schools also share simple and interesting science experiments you can try at home as a family!
Australian International School (AIS) – Adam Patterson, Head of Early Years
“At AIS, STEAM, science, technology and even design thinking happen everywhere and every day in our classrooms, just like in the real world.”
Children are born scientists. From birth they are exploring, questioning and destroying to see how things work. As adults, our job is to stand back and watch, encourage or put things in their way to support this natural curiosity. At AIS (top image), STEAM, science, technology and even design thinking happen everywhere and every day in our classrooms, just like in the real world. Learning subjects such as science or design is not limited to one particular 30 minute lesson. Instead, children are confronted with open-ended questions, statements and resources to solve a problem, make connections or extend their interests and thinking.
TRY THIS AT HOME… Walking Water!
- Food colouring
- Two empty glass jars
- One empty drinking glass
- Paper towels
- Choose the colours you want to mix. (We did red and blue, and yellow and blue.)
- Fill each jar half full with water and add a different food colouring to each jar.
- Cut a paper towel in half and fold it into quarters lengthwise. Stick one end of the paper towel into the colored water and one end into the empty glass, do this for each jar.
- The water will then ‘walk’ up into the empty glass until the water in the glass comes up to the same level as the jars.
TOP TIP! This is a great experiment, even though it may not work the first time. There are many variables you can change, such as the paper towel, size of jars or the amount of liquid. Try it for yourself to see what happens!
CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL – Anna-Marie McAleer, Vice Principal, CIS Primary School, Lakeside Campus
“Our science inquiry tasks give students the opportunity to make connections and and solve real-life, authentic problems.”
CIS primary students engage in science learning through the PYP (Primary Years Programme) and our student-led, hands-on STEAM teaching approach. This involves a structured, purposeful, inquiry approach to learning that develops a range of science-specific skills and processes such as:
- Observation skills to gather data
- Learning how to use a variety of instruments and tools to measure data accurately
- Building scientific vocabulary
- Learning how to identify and generate a question or problem to be explored
- Planning and carrying out systematic investigations
- Making and testing predictions
- Interpreting and evaluating data gathered in order to draw conclusions
All our science inquiry tasks give our primary school students the opportunity to make connections and and solve real-life, authentic problems. The engagements centre around four themes – living things, earth and space, materials and matter, forces and energy. Our approach helps students to think critically, encourages curiosity and helps them develop a sense of responsibility regarding the impact of their actions on themselves, others and the world.
UWC SOUTH EAST ASIA (UWCSEA) – Carla Marschall, Vice Principal, Infant School, Dover Campus
“We harness our student’s instinctive curiosity by designing rich, open-ended activities that connect to the ‘big ideas’ in our curriculum.”
At UWCSEA, our infant children are natural scientists. They follow ant trails in the playground, manipulate their shadows on a sunny day and make predictions about materials as they create artwork. Our approach to science learning is to harness this instinctive curiosity by designing rich, open-ended activities that connect to the ‘big ideas’ in our curriculum. Across our K-12 concept-based curriculum, these ‘big ideas’ increase in sophistication as the children get older.
In order to build our students’ conceptual understanding, we engage children in activities that ask them to question, wonder and hypothesise. We want them to feel provoked and invested in the learning. For example, at the beginning of a Grade 1 Light and Sound Unit, we black out the windows in the shared Pod space and create a ‘light lab’ where students can tinker with their ideas. This shows students that we view them as serious scientists who are doing important work!
Scientific knowledge is important, but it’s not sufficient enough to become scientifically literate.Through our hands-on experiences, students learn about the scientific process and attributes of being an effective scientist, such as perseverance and open-mindedness.
TRY THIS AT HOME… The Humming Hanger!
Have you ever wondered if sound travels better through air or a solid? Here is an easy experiment you can do at home that only requires a metal hanger and two pieces of string.
- Unpainted metal clothes hanger
- Cut two lengths of string, each about half a metre long.
- Tie the end of each string to a different side of the hanger. If you hold up the hanger using the strings, it may hang upside down. This is perfectly fine!
- Tie the end of each string around each of your index fingers. This will allow you to hold it securely.
- Gently place your two index fingers in your ears and swing the hanger back and forth. Softly hit the hanger on the side of a table or chair. What do you notice about the sounds that are made?
- Try this same process with your index fingers out of your ears. Is the sound from the hanger louder or softer? What does this tell you about how sound travels?
HILLSIDE WORLD ACADEMY (HWA) – Mr. Max Lew Cheng Wee, Creative Activity & Service Manager & Senior School Teacher in Science
“We challenge students to make connections between concepts learned in classroom with the real world.”
Hillside World Academy’s Science programme provides a framework of learning that encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers. It challenges students to make connections between concepts learned in classroom with the real world. Students adopt an inquiry cycle to independently and collaboratively investigate issues through research, observation and experimentation.
By exploring how concepts could be used to deal with the real life situations, students realise the interdependence of Science with the Humanities, environment, ethics, morality, etc. Students construct meaning by designing, conducting and reflecting on scientific investigations that involve hands-on experiments. This enables them to make informed and responsible decision, in Science as well as other areas of life. Students discuss and evaluate the various implications of the use of science and its application in solving a specific problem or issue. Throughout the programme, students will demonstrate their understanding at increasing levels of sophistication.
Top image credit: AIS
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