- Students at the St. Andrew Technical High School (STATS) are being introduced to new and exciting areas of study, under a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programme being undertaken by the institution.
- The initiative is in keeping with the Ministry of Education’s focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with the integration of subjects in the arts for active learning and engagement of students.
- The incorporation of STEM methodologies in the curriculum of schools will be rolled out in the 2016 academic year.
Students at the St. Andrew Technical High School (STATS) are being introduced to new and exciting areas of study, under a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programme being undertaken by the institution.
The initiative is in keeping with the Ministry of Education’s focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with the integration of subjects in the arts for active learning and engagement of students.
The aim is to revolutionise the way enthusiastic and promising students learn.
Students, from as early as grade seven, are being introduced to concepts in logistics, animation, and related subject areas.
Computer animation has been introduced to grade nine students and the course, which is in development, will open up to the entire school shortly. It is being facilitated by a teacher trained and certified in the field of animation.
Through partnership with Kingston Wharves (KW) Limited, students are gaining in-demand skills for the job market.
KW also provides the AutoCAD software that students use in preparing for technical drawing examinations.
AutoCAD is a computer-aided design (CAD) program used for two and three-dimensional design drafting. It can be used to create blueprints for buildings, bridges and computer chips. It is used primarily by drafters, although engineers, surveyors and architects use it from time to time.
STATS Vice Principal, Yvonne Mamher-Tafari, who heads the STEAM Committee, believes that the unique curriculum offered under the programme is changing the way students learn.
She says the programme is encouraging innovation and creative thinking on the part of students. “We’re not just sending out students based on rote learning, they can better think for themselves. The students really want to do it,” she says.
Ms. Mamher-Tafari points out that teachers are also benefitting as they are being more innovative in their lessons.
“What we find now is that it is helping even the teachers of English Language to look at things differently. We are now saying to them to learn a skill because they can better relate to the students,” she says.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of KW Limited, Grantley Stephenson, tells JIS News that the linkage with STATS is part of the company’s focus on recruiting work-ready persons.
“The focus really is on ensuring that when the kids leave school, they have an idea of what they want to do. They have time to really focus on building up their skill level,” he says.
At least 40 STATS students benefitted from skills training in crane mechanics and diagnostics at KW over the summer. Mr. Stephenson says he is looking to extend the programme beyond the summer period in order to expose more students to the demands of the industry.
“You want the brightest people now to become a mechanic. People have to be able to run diagnostics. I am exposing that to them (students) now because the training at school doesn’t take them to that level…we are now in a skill-based environment,” he points out.
“A first degree only makes you trainable…industry wants people who can think, people who are creative, people who can develop strategy,” he adds.
The incorporation of STEM methodologies in the curriculum of schools will be rolled out in the 2016 academic year.
The subjects will be taught to students at the grades one to nine levels in primary and secondary institutions. Some 50 schools are expected to adopt this new curriculum.
Nine schools have already been specifically selected and transformed into STEM academies.
These are Dunoon Park Technical, St. Andrew Technical, and Kingston Technical in the Corporate Area; Herbert Morrison Technical, St. James; Manchester High School; Dinthill Technical, St. Catherine; Vere Technical, Clarendon; St. Mary Technical; and the Sydney Pagon STEM Academy in St. Elizabeth.
Partnerships have been forged with industry players in areas such as agriculture, telecommunications, logistics and transportation, in order to meet their needs for training and employment.
“STEM is very critical as we seek to revolutionise the teaching and learning processes. It embraces scientific methods coupled with a design process and in this context, it will create learners who are more innovative. They will add value to society,” said STEM Coordinator in the Ministry of Education, Senator Wensworth Skeffery.
The Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has indicated that the arts will not be left out of the process.