JC STEAMING UP
The Back Story:
It started one day when Principal Robinson, observed, on one of his walks around the school, that some students were not engaged. Not fired up about learning. Recalling the impact of some of his very own teachers in his time, who made learning interesting and impactful, Principal Robinson called a meeting. From this, a steering committee was formed to do research and explore STEM as an approach to more engaging experiences at Jamaica College.
Initially the thought was that a building with STEM inspired equipment was the answer. A team visited the STEM building downtown, GK Foundation invested in. It was inspiring.
We expanded the team to develop an A-Team, with teacher representatives from most departments to brain storm ideas and objectives. It was when Pricilla Deans visited the team in September 2019 to share her local and international experiences, that we truly understood what we were undertaking.
It had nothing to do with the building. It was a mind-set change. It was a change in teaching and learning approach.
We decided to include ARTs and moved forward to infuse STEAM, science-technology-engineering -Arts-Mathematics. We knew that we needed to learn more on problem solving objectives.
The strategic approach was two-fold:
- Go straight to the guts of our lessons and update the curricula. Mrs. E. Tyson was brought in to guide this massaging of the curricula in 2020.
- To start the implementation of the STEAM infusion on lower school first. Starting with first form.
In 2020 the funding for the Jamaica College’s STEAM infusion took place with the greatest benefactor being Dr. Joseph Tait. We were grateful that he bought into the vision and funded the equipment, upgrades, refurbishing of labs and rooms that are modular and lend themselves to PBL (Project Based Learning).
The Launch of the STEAM Infusion:
Dr. Joseph Tait
JC Old Boy giving back
by backing up the STEAM Infusion at JC. He gave JC the single largest academic donation in contemporary Jamaica.
The formal launch took place in February 2021. Listening to some of the speeches made at the launch, can help one to attain more information of the STEAM Infusion plan at JC.
- Principal Wayne Robinson – https://youtu.be/y5StzKD_q3Q
- Director Teddy Alexander – https://youtu.be/bvQgjBXRibU
- Benefactor Dr. Joseph Tait – https://youtu.be/ZzMAZ4Y-2po
- Chairman Michael Bernard – https://youtu.be/AG9ndRJ0Dnw
- System Administrator Dawn MacGregor-Bromfield – https://youtu.be/6bNA7UX3a5U
All stakeholders were onboard. It was full ‘STEAM’ ahead.
The timing was perfect. No one could have predicted the pandemic and the closure of schools.
The physical STEAM kits were not used during this pandemic closure. However, it was much of the STEAM INFUSION investment that assisted JC to flip to online schooling in record time. Teachers who did not have devices, were able to get devices to use during this period. The STEAM mind-set and curriculum changes were already implemented and the lower school teachers were able to include STEAM Soft kits (online kits) and project ideas using problem solving learning techniques, like making paper towel holders out of wood.
As schools were reopening, the teacher training on the STEAM Kits and equipment began. Exciting new tools like 3D printers, drones, robots and much more. PITSCO, USA conducted some of the training and much of the STEM kits. We also had input from our local STEAM experts, KWTronics.
JC STEAM Seminar Oct. 4 2021 by KWTronics – https://youtu.be/jU9GfUt4fGE
JC already had some skill-based subjects that already leant themselves to being STEAM infused. Auto mechanics, Electricals, Food & Nutrition, Aviation and Robotics have STEAM elements, in these cases our mandate was to bring this out in the classes, allowing students to discover the science in Food and Nutrition, the mathematics in auto mechanics, the technology in Electricals etc
What Happened Next?:
In 2022-2023, Mrs. S. Bennett-Edwards was promoted to Assistant Dean of Studies with the mandate to manage and motivate STEAM ideology throughout the entire school.
It has been a joy to observe some of the students and teachers in action.
IMPACT OF THE STEAM KITS
Students in the science class learning using the STEAM approach.
The Science class to the left was on BONDING. Having the students experience the Bonding, the class was effective and memorable.
Click HERE to see the STEAM class about the practical class after the principles were taught using the STEAM approach.
Click on the image on the right to see the activity on hydraulics.
One of the JC Students getting supplies from the STEAM supply room to work on his Spanish Project… Making a house with furniture and labeling the furniture in Spanish.
The Vocabulary test following the exercise had students who were even struggling with the subject, getting high marks.
Click on the image to the right for more.
Mrs. Cooper-Stewart, our 5th Form Biology teacher and Subject Coordinator, used the STEAM supplies in her class that addressed, BREATHING. The students were given the supplies with no instruction as to how they should put the supplies together and demonstrate breathing in humans. Students were engaged in project-based learning while they tried to figure out how to put their resources together to simulate breathing after learning the content.
Here is an example of one of the working finished projects.
Click on the image to the left to see the demonstration.
Standardized graded work of students who participated in the project-based learning activity. These are students who would not normally do well using the traditional teaching method but they have shown improvement after experiencing a STEAM lesson. They both got their very first 80% and 90% in biology class.
Mrs. Cooper-Stewart and Mrs. Bennett-Edwards have decided to partner in action research to determine the level of impact that the STEM methodology has on students’ performance through standardized testing. While Jamaica College is moving full STEAM ahead, we still have to be cognizant of the reality of the general education system that exists, and this system measures our students through standardized assessments. This action research will help us to understand how the STEAM methodology can improve students’ performance on standardized assessments.
IMPACT OF ORGANIZED STEAM SUPPLIES
Students visiting Mrs. Bennett-Edwards to see what is available for them to be creative in completing their projects. This example was from the Spanish class. The students made a house and the furniture in the house will be labelled in Spanish.
Teachers have been visiting the STEAM supply room and taking items for their classes. Students have also found the room and requested material to complete project assignments.
IMPACT OF STEAM EQUIPMENT
The robotics team is saving money by making parts that they require, instead of purchasing and importing them.
Click HERE to understand how the Robotics team is using the 3D Printer.
Where are we now?
The most impressive production we have seen so far, is the creation of an ancient musical instrument.
Background: The student was introduced to this ancient instrument that sounds similar to a recorder, an ocarina. Considering one of the greatest video games ever, Nintendo’s ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’ has sold more than seven million copies Worldwide. If it were not for this video game he may not have ever heard of this instrument. Researching more about the instrument, the student felt challenged to create one and that he did with the 3D printer. It worked too.
Continue to visit this page to see more as we implement STEAM in new areas.
Thanks to all the contributors of photos and videos.
Last Updated 17/10/2023