To say the sky is the limit when it comes to the concepts that students at Stamford American School Hong Kong are exposed to is no exaggeration. And this was never more evident in the school’s recent Space Week projects, part of the STEM education, which had students of all ages engaged in finding out more about outer space.
Space and STEMinn
The Space Week program was part of this international school’s rich STEMinn program which aims to ensure its students are well-equipped for the world into which they will be graduating in. STEMinn takes the teaching principles of the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths and combines them with a focus on innovation. The idea is that this gives kids the chance to not just learn about concepts, but to experience turning theory into practice. This is done through small scale and large scale projects which give kids the chance to learn teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving.
Stamford decided to embrace the inspiration of space exploration presented by the UN endorsed Space Week which takes place annually from 4-10 October. Space Week marks the successful launch of Sputnik on 4 October, 1957, the first satellite to orbit Earth.
Stamford’s STEMinn coordinator Linda Cheung said the school saw myriad learning opportunities through the subject of space. “Space inspires so much wonder and creativity! It is such an all-encompassing and important topic of study for our students who will guide the future,” she says.
Learning for all ages
The learning opportunities provided by Space Week allowed students of all ages to participate in the program of events. For example, Grade 1 students learned about the effects of gravity on plants by doing micro-gravity experiments with a clinostat. This device constantly rotates on an axis to mimic the effect of an environment with lesser gravity. It meant the students got to observe their plants grow and test their hypothesis about the effects.
Grade 3 students designed and tested their own rockets, in line with the principles of STEMinn learning. This meant they not only were thinking about space exploration, but also the practicality of design on propulsion.
Meanwhile, one of Stamford’s Global Mentors, Cesar Jung-Harada of Hong Kong-based maker group MakerBay, worked with Grade 5 students to create human-powered space rovers. Here, each class aimed to create the most functional rover which could collect scientific data, as well as drive in space.
The learning topic was then further reinforced across the school with the music, drama and languages departments also having space themed lessons. The head of music, Tina Batchelder’s new original song, Space Unites the World, set the tone across the school during Space Week and kicked off the student-led showcase.
Preparing for the future
Linda said the Space Week learning projects had a profound impact on students in the school. “Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are the foundation of innovation!,” she said.
And while space may seem an abstract topic, Cesar said it will be incredibly relevant for this generation of young learners in the future.
“This generation will go into space in masses,” he said. “Space travel will become commonplace yet the exploration of deep space will remain the source of creativity and inspiration forever, where science meets fiction. Having a space program for kids does just that: connecting STEM subjects to the arts and to the design of the future.”
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