STEAM- it’s a method of teaching that encompasses science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics and the Ministry of Education is actively helping to train educators on how to deliver instruction in these five areas in meaningful ways. To tie in with Belize’s fortieth anniversary of its political independence, teachers and students were engaged in activities centred on those five thematic areas today. Love News spoke to head instructor, Brandon Muramatsu (moh-ra-mat-soo) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) elaborated on what is exactly is STEAM and how it is used.
Brandon Muramatsu, STEAM Instructor Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “STEAM stands for an acronym but it is focused on a way of teaching and learning that integrates multiple disciplines, multiple subjects that are typically taught in most primary or secondary schools even up in the tertiary colleges and universities. It focuses on the integration and the cross over between Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math so thinking about the world in which we live, the world in which Belizeans will need to develop industry, to develop businesses, to have folks who go on to live productive lives, to operate in the 21st century or live in the 21st century how to think across multiple subjects and integrate the different disciplines but also different ways of thinking focusing on other skills like problem solving, conceptual thinking, communications and bring it all together in ways that help themselves and their families and the country. So STEAM works whether it’s remote learning, hybrid learning, in person learning so it’s about the concepts and the way we teach and the way the teachers here at the workshop teach and the opportunities we provide the students to learn whether it’s online or hybrid or in person.”
According to John Newport, Director of the Ministry’s Quality Assurance Development Services, the workshop focused on working with teachers both in the field of science and general studies.
John Newport, Director of Quality Assurance Development Services: “We’re doing two things. We are training forty STEAM teachers and forty general teachers in a way of teaching which is new and innovative and exciting and which we hope to introduce a lot more into Belize in the future. And the next we’ll be doing an online workshop with forty students. The key part of the workshop is they use something called a Micro Bit Kit which allows you – you hook it up to a computer and it allows you how to make a robot within a couple of hours. So these teachers might come in today with really very little background in either programming or making robots or movable machines throughout the course of the day they engage in trying to find a solution to a local problem using the Micro Bits Kits whilst they’re learning some simple programming and some simple robotic type activities. We’re running the system which tends to be called ‘Bubbles’. So from the moment the teachers walked in they had to sit with only teachers from their school. We had told them beforehand and we told them again at the beginning they can’t get up from their tables, if they want to get tea or coffee we bring it to them. They have lunch in that group so from the time they walk in to the time they walk out they’re only interacting at most with six or seven other people and most of those are teachers from the same schools that they’re working in. So we had talked to Ministry of Health can this be done safely, as safely as possibly because we know right now you can’t prevent COVID a hundred percent but as a way of doing a face to face activity we wanted to show that this is one good way of doing it and we will need to follow up with these same teachers if we were right and we would really hope to say that there was zero COVID because of this workshop. We took all the precautions would could, we made it as safe as possible.”
Newport noted that activities will continue into next week and will see the involvement from a number of students across the country.