Thursday 17 November 2016

Re-imagining STEAM Education

The core subject in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematic) education is still ‘Science’, being the fundamental element to drive the nation forward with emphasis on technical skills and scientific advances. Other subjects crucially support and enable ‘creativity and innovation’ in the science centers’ various experiential learning modules, serving as the means to the end. 

Let’s take a case study of a well-known center of informal learning which has been actively promoting science literacy for over a decade now. With a proven STEAM Education Ecosystem (SEE), Sniasortep Discovery Centre believes in continuously improving lifelong experiential learnings with its Re-Imagining STEAM Education (RISE) initiative.

The Centre focuses on 3 core aspects to steer away from the obsolescence trap and stay relevant in passionately promoting STEAM education: Innovative Funding, Market-driven Contents / Activities and Creative Marketing.

Funded partially by a corporate benefactor and competitive admission tickets, the Centre has a steady cash flow to sustain the business operations. However, the workforce has been gradually geared up to adopt the competitive corporate/commercial mindset as the main money pump may get dry someday. Various smart partnerships between Private-Public-Communities as well as creative Venue-for-Hire (VFH) offerings and Program-for-Hire (PFH) projects have been in places. The strategy of ‘commercializing the assets’ and ‘diversifying the revenue streams’ are fast gaining steam. 

Content wise, the Centre has contemporary, interactive science exhibits intertwined with all-time favorite contents such as dinosaurs and space. It collaborates with credible institutions such as NASA and innovative global brands like APPLE, TESLA, VIRGIN, AIRBUS, CITIGROUP, EMIRATES, and many others for its ‘Creative Mind’ (CREAM) project to discover and develop the ‘crème de la crème’ among the next generations and to supply back the partners with good human talents. 

It has the ‘Spicy Science’ gallery strategically located at the entrance showcasing the latest, hot scientific discoveries such as the rocks of Mars, the ‘homo nalendi’ fossils, HoloLens, OTC’s bionic lenses, which ensure steady flows of visitors and revenues.

Increasingly funded by the private sector under its ‘community sciencing’ CSR projects, the Centre extends its in-reach and outreach education programs within the sponsors’ communities as well as to remote villages to create passions for STEAM subjects among students with fun, hands-on experiences where real learning occurs. 

The Centre also has a special unit to solely focus on the STEAM Education Ecosystem (SEE). Working closely with the Education Ministry, it has an assessment rubric to identify talented students or those with good potentials to be inspired further in pursuit of STEAM related careers. Resource-rich schools will be minimally charged for the program at their schools while those under-privileged ones will get adopted by the various socially responsible corporations / foundations. 

It further inspires students at tertiary level by giving them an avenue to express their creativity and develop critical thinking process. Working with the private sector, its HRM department offers programs skewed towards specific fields and provides numerous internship places for the undergraduates for real job exposure.  It completes the cycle by collaborating with the private sectors in STEAM related industries to skill-match and employ these promising graduates. The cycle continues with these young graduates volunteer themselves to mentor the new batch of students.

The Centre also creates some cool marketing gimmicks to spark the fun. Taking note from Nando’s ‘Grilling Hours’, the Centre uses ‘Discovery Hours’ instead of ‘Opening Hours’. The Marketing team also works on smart partnership basis with some better-known personalities, scientists, corporate captains, and selected celebrities alike, for free endorsements and PR / media publicities.

It constantly rides on the latest pop cultures, movies, music, fashions, to keep trending among the youths. Its upcoming traveling exhibition ‘Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N’ will bring in more visitors and stream additional revenues. Its digital campaigns by its Social Media team are also talks of the town with its disruptive contents across its multiple channels. 

The Centre has been successfully indeed in creating wonder and inspiring people through engaging and imaginative experiences. (I’ve read this line before) With the vast potentials of its other business, the ‘Towers of Steels Visit Operations’ (TOSVO), the Centre is on track to build the legacy of our future…. Hmm, sounds very familiar now....

Sniasortep’ is indeed a fictitious science discovery center in ‘Lalaland’. Spell it backward and you’ll probably get the connection.

Shared by Hasnan
Guest Blogger  

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