It’s more than a buzzword. STEAM, an approach to learning that combines science, technology, engineering, arts and math, has been gaining traction in schools in recent years. But if there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear, it’s that STEAM in the classroom is more relevant now than ever before.
“The interest that students have in STEAM has never been higher,” says Jamil Dibe, Vertical Sales Leader, Education, at Staples Professional. “You’ve got a year where the literal superheroes of the pandemic were doctors, nurses and researchers. All of a sudden, you’ve got this entire generation of kids inspired to be in those professions.”
With STEAM, the focus is on collaboration and students have many tools at their disposal to discover, problem-solve and create innovative solutions. “I’m there to guide their learning, I’m not there to pour the information into them,” says Katharine McClenaghan, a teacher with the Toronto District School Board who incorporates STEAM into her classroom. “You just let them run with it, and provide them with the tools to research, to build, to engineer whatever it is that they want.”
McClenaghan says you don’t need anything fancy to bring STEAM into your classroom. You can use easy-to-find supplies like household recyclables, Epsom salts, food colouring, baking soda and vinegar to carry out scientific experiments and projects. “But if you do have access to STEAM tools and resources, definitely use them, because these are things that students are going to need to know how to operate, especially moving forward,” she says.
That’s where Staples Professional can help, says Dibe. Particularly with STEAM, school boards don’t always know what they need. But Staples Professional has partnered with a number of vendors — such as Ergotron, HP and Lenovo — to ensure it can help school boards prepare for a tech and digital-focused future.
Robotics: If you want something that’s going to grab your students’ attention, robots are the way to go. “We provide learning robots, which are a physical representation of programming and problem solving,” says Dibe. The learning robots, like the Krypton 3 Robot Kit, teach early coding skills and the basics of engineering and robotics.
3D Printers: Imagine coming up with a solution to a problem and then being able to create the design right in your classroom. Prior to 3D printers, students would need to master the building skills and have access to materials. But now, they can look at a problem, and design its solution virtually and simply hit print.
Chromebooks: Chromebooks have long been part of Staples Professional’s offerings but the COVID-19 pandemic has made the computing devices indispensable for learning. Prior to the pandemic, it was hard for educators to imagine students as young as five years old using a Chromebook, but with virtual learning, students required computers or tablets to simply attend school. “We played a big role in going out and sourcing as many affordable Chromebooks and laptops as possible to provide to a lot of our schools that we work with,” says Dibe.
With the help of Staples Professional, your school board can play a role in creating the superheroes of the future.