Education Minister Diallo Rabain issued an update on Government’s “high level plan on the implementation of STEAM Education (Science, Techonology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics), at the primary level in the Bermuda Public School System”.
In a Ministerial Statement delivered in the House of Assembly on Friday, Mr Rabain said STEAM’s “educational approach” to learning as “access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking”, he said: “This methodology facilitates a learning environment where students take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through creative processes.”
Using the STEAM Education approach that “shifts teachers away from the typical teacher-centred classroom learning environment into collaborative project work and creative problem-solving with students”, the Minister said the research shows that “engaging children in learning of both novelty and discovery, positively impacts their behavior and causes them to exercise self-control and to self-regulate”.
With the implementation of STEAM Education, aligned with the Department of Education’s Strategic Plan, he said STEAM “directly supports four of the five” Strategic Priorities in Plan 2022, namely:
- Increasing Academic Rigour and Student Engagement;
- Ensuring Career, College, and Workforce Readiness;
- Enhancing the Quality of Teacher Practice and System Leadership; and,
- Improving Infrastructure and Instructional Resources.
With Science as a component of STEAM Education, Mr Rabain said: “Students move step-by-step through a goal-directed problem-solving process. This curriculum is also aligned with the Cambridge International Science Curriculum.
“The implementation of STEAM Education at the primary school level will add to what has been already started at the middle and senior school levels with STEM 101. The STEAM EiE curriculum will enable students to have an exciting hands-on approach to learning. Students’ experiences show that they learn how to blend the mind of a scientist and technology experts with that of an artist or designer,” he added.
In the last school year a “Pilot of the STEAM Engineering is Elementary, or EiE curriculum was undertaken in four primary schools – West Pembroke, Paget, Northlands and Prospect Primary Schools”.
“Implementation is being monitored by education officers and at the end of the school year, officers will report out to principals about the progress with the programme,” said Mr Rabain.
Classroom observations conducted thus far reveal that students are excited to:
- engage in the engineering challenges
- problem solve
- learn about different Engineer roles in today’s world
- learn terminology in different languages
- think like an Engineer
In the longer term, he said, the implementation of the EiE curriculum for all primary schools “will be structured in three phases and operational plans will be developed at each phase for execution”.
“The first phase, which extends the 2018/19 school year commences in September 2018, and will include the four schools currently participating in the Pilot plus two additional primary schools, the Minister said.
“These six primary schools will receive differentiated instructional support and professional development training in July and again in September 2018.
“The Department of Education’s technical officers that is, the Gifted and Talented Education Officer, the Acting Director of Curriculum and Assessment, and the Director of Academics will guide and support the primary school teachers during the implementation of the EiE curriculum. They will also monitor and evaluate the EiE programme on a bi-weekly basis,” he added.
“Phase two of the STEAM implementation will begin in September 2019 with six (6) more primary schools receiving
differentiated and integrated instructional supports and professional development/training in June and September 2019.
“Increased primary school implementation of the EiE curriculum will be applied where schools choose and integrate units of their choice.
“Lastly, phase three will follow the same implementation plan during the 2020/21 school year, with the remaining six primary schools receiving professional development training and the instructional resources for implementation. At phase three, all eighteen primary schools will be fully engaged with STEAM curricula using the EiE application.”
The Minister told MPs that the annual cost of implementing each phase is estimated at $125,000.
“This includes the cost of the EiE resource kits for each school, initial training for teachers, and on-going professional development for teachers during the course of each school year, which will ensure fidelity in delivering the STEAM programme,” he said.
“Professional development sessions will be facilitated by EiE representatives using a train the trainer model. The focus will be the developmental stages of lower and upper primary students and afford teachers the opportunity to facilitate STEAM pedagogy constructs for Contextual Learning and Problem Solving; Collaborative Learning and Teamwork; and Project-based Learning.”
The concluded by noting that the “success and sustainability of STEAM Education at the primary school level will be supported by a consistent commitment of economic, environmental and social partnerships with stakeholders”.
To that end, he reaffirmed Government’s commitment to “making education a priority” by ensuring that the Department of Education has the “necessary resources to develop a culture that steers the success of each student”.