Guest Blog Post written by Kevin Foley, Elementary School Principal, @FoleyKev
I first came across the STEM concept while visiting my daughter on the Gold Coast in 2013. I liked the idea teaching four areas as one subject. A seed was set and on returning to my own school I came up with the idea of a STEAM Room. I added A for Arts as I think fostering creativity and artistic ability is crucial to learning.
We had an attic in school which was a storeroom full of junk. The attic was cleared and work began in converting this unused space into a STEAM Room.With little money to spend over the course of a year the room was complete. A grant was secured from the Department allowing us to purchase vital equipment. We also had a fundraising walk and cake sale that brought in much needed funding. On March 16th this year we officially opened Ireland's first and only school Steam Room. We had a fantastic day which was covered by local media both print and radio.
In the room we have a number of different stations. The class is divided into 5/6 groups with each group given a task. We record each group's progress and post on slide show afterwards. The activities include Makerspace, Minecraft, Mathletes, Bloxels, Robotic Lego, Scratch, Coding and programming. It's for all ages from 4 yr old to adults.
Programming Beebots is cool for juniors. Programming drones to fly a specific circuit is challenging. We award a Pilot's licence to anyone who can fly a specific complex route.
This image shows students tracking aircraft's from the STEAM room.
The new STEAM Room has had a huge impact on learning in my school. Pupils want to go there all the time. Learning is now fun and is often pupil led. My students teach me new things every day. I can programe drones and robots and use scratch. It’s quality learning and not a book in sight.
We were invited to Dublin Castle last month to showcase our STEAM Room.
In July we are displaying at a Maker festival in Dublin also.
Visit us at www.lackennationalcschool.com or twitter @LackenNS.