A STEM education prepares students for the future by inculcating the ability to think innovatively and communicate effectively, as well as encouraging the mindset of a lifelong learner
In recent years, attention has re-focused on how schools teach Mathematics and Science because of the rising demand for workers skilled in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) domains. According to Live Science, it is projected that the United States will need 8.65 million workers in STEM in 2018, mostly in the fields of computing and traditional engineering. There is also a shortage of STEM graduates in the United Kingdom and Germany.
Fortunately, STEM education has made great strides in recent years.
How does STEM education differ from traditional Mathematics and Science pedagogy? STEM education at SIM International Academy (SIM IA), for example, is interdisciplinary. Instead of teaching Mathematics and Science separately, SIM IA’s STEM programme combines different disciplines and shows students how these work together seamlessly in the real world. Because students are taught in a manner that integrates knowledge and skills from different disciplines, they find it easier to apply the skills they have learnt to solve problems. For instance, after learning the scientific method, they can apply the same critical thinking and data analysis skillsets to other aspects of their education.
In addition to learning foundational concepts, students in SIM IA’s STEM programme also develop skills essential for career success in the 21st century. An effective STEM programme incorporates the four Cs of 21st century skills: Creativity, Critical thinking, Collaboration, and Communication.
STEM Education Teaches Life Skills
A STEM programme teaches essential life skills such as solving problems using available information and data, collaborating with others toward common goals, thinking creatively to find solutions to problems, and innovating by building on, and adding to, what is existing.
To achieve this goal, SIM IA draws on the principles of Design Thinking to help students recognise relevant and important problems and to gain insights into new ways of solving these problems. This philosophy is at the heart of the STEM programme. It ensures that SIM IA students are engaged in authentic learning experiences and empowers them to become changemakers.
A STEM Programme Gives Students a Global Edge
In the recently concluded Southeast Asia Mathematics Competition (SEAMC) 2018 in Singapore, one of SIM IA’s students–Kim Minseo–finished among the Top 8 competitors in the Junior category; and all six SIM IA participants, including Kim, brought home a Golden Ticket, earning them a spot in the World Mathematics Championship to be held in Melbourne in late June this year.
Competitions such as SEAMC give students avenues for learning outside campus. These also hone their communication skills through their collaboration with students from other schools and countries. The opportunity to participate in these global STEM competitions and the skillsets they develop from the STEM programme help give SIM IA students the Global Edge.
Spark your child’s interest in STEM! To learn more about the SIM IA STEM programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mathematical modelling brings the real world into the classroom
A student’s belief about their aptitude for a particular subject could affect their performance in it. For example, Kenneth Shore, a psychologist, has observed in an article published in Education World that students’ anxiety about Mathematics could affect their performance negatively.
One way to ease anxiety about learning Mathematics is to engage students more effectively in the learning process, for example, through the use of Mathematical modelling. This method helps students connect the Mathematical concepts and skills they learn in the classroom to their application in the real world. Through Mathematical modelling, students not only reinforce their understanding of Mathematics, but also learn to be collaborative learners and effective communicators, as well as develop their inventive and critical thinking skills. This is why Mathematical modelling is such a vital tool, both in and outside of the classroom.
One example of Mathematical modelling comes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where a team of mathematicians created a model to help minimise traffic jams. After measuring traffic jams against variables such as traffic speed and traffic density, the model calculated the conditions that could cause a major traffic jam, and engineers were able to put the model to use afterwards to design roads that ease the flow of traffic.
A Modelling Approach that Gives Students Skills for the Real World
Mathematical modelling is an integral part of SIM International Academy (SIM IA)’s Mathematics curriculum which focuses on applied learning.
At SIM IA, Year 8 students are asked to apply their understanding of Mathematical concepts to solve scenarios set in the real world. For example, students might solve a case of theft by working out the relationship between the thief’s height and foot length, or they might measure the height of a sculpture on campus using their understanding of trigonometry concepts.
Each of the above tasks required students to work as a group to identify the problem and the steps they have to take to solve that problem before they make the calculations and interpret the results. After presenting their model, students also note the challenges of the task, and discuss how they managed these.
Through these tasks, students develop skills in creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration, which are especially valuable in a globalised and digital world.
Vast Opportunities for SIM IA Students
At SIM IA, students have seen that they are able to use their Mathematical modelling skills outside of the classroom.
Recently, six SIM IA students participated in the Southeast Asian Mathematics Competition (SEAMC) 2018. One of the six students, Myat Thuzar Kyaw from Year 8, said that skills “like accurate data collection, effective presentation of data, collaboration with teammates and the reflection [on] and conclusion of our findings” helped her team to succeed.
In the competition, participants had to perform activities similar to SIM IA’s Mathematical modelling assignments. One of the tasks Myat Thuzar Kyaw and her teammates had to complete at the SEAMC was to estimate the height of a castle at Universal Studios Singapore without any measuring tools. To work around this obstacle, the students applied the modelling technique that they had learnt in school–they used their respective heights to estimate the height of the castle by applying the concepts of ratio and proportion.
All six SIM IA participants bagged Golden Tickets, advancing them to the World Mathematics Championship to be held in Melbourne in June.
While high-performing students are good indicators of the effective use of Mathematical modelling in teaching Mathematics, the value of this approach goes beyond that. At SIM IA, students not only get a deeper understanding of Mathematics; they also appreciate the importance of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Moreover, they are given opportunities to apply what they learn in the real world.
Do you want your child to learn Mathematics through Mathematical modelling, and have fun while doing it? To find out more about SIM IA’s Cambridge IGCSE curriculum and Scholarship for International students, email email@example.com.
Having good English skills is a must in culturally diverse environments.
English is one of the world’s most widely used languages in both social and business contexts. Spoken by almost a quarter of the world’s population, English remains the global language of commerce. Thus, fluency in English, along with good communication skills, remains imperative in the 21st century when people are constantly travelling, working, and studying in culturally diverse environments.
SIM IA Makes English Learning More Fun Through Practice
Students of SIM International Academy (SIM IA) can expect to develop a love and appreciation for the English Language in the course of their studies. SIM IA teaches English through a holistic approach by providing real-life context for academic learning. SIM IA believes that students learn better when they are having fun, and that learning through experience and practice is more effective than passive learning. As research suggests, fun is beneficial to authentic learning and is required for long-term memory.
SIM IA’s English programme helps to hone students’ oral and written communication skills through projects and activities that engage students and foster creativity, including creating comic strips and posters, and writing poetry. In class, students speak and debate in English, and work on projects where they analyse the language and ideas behind the presentations of advertisements, write and publish school newsletters and run a radio club. At SIM IA, the Language department understands that when a language is used more frequently and in various contexts, students will be able to gain more confidence in using it, not only at school, but also in their daily lives.
(Students can learn and enjoy visual storytelling through comic strips)
(SIM IA students at an English debate activity, facilitated by Mr. Mark Rozells, Head of Department, Languages & Literature)
(Student DJs from the SIM IA Radio Club taking over the PA system during lunch hours)
(Students share their unique personalities and identities in English )
SIM IA’s Gavel Club
SIM IA students can also improve their communication and leadership skills through an enrichment programme called Gavel Club. An affiliate of Toastmasters International, this international organisation promotes the development of public speaking through training, group discussions, and delivery of speeches. At the end of their journey with Gavel Club, all participants who have successfully completed the course will receive a certificate from Toastmasters International to mark them as a Confident Communicator.
(SIM IA Student, Cui Nan, delivering her speech at a Gavel Club session)
“All in all, I have seen our students become more confident in speaking in English, especially in front of others and presenting to large groups,” said Mr. Rozells, Head of Department, Languages & Literature. “They have also become more aware of their purpose, audience and context when giving a speech or presentation. The impact is seen in class when they give formal presentations and also in class discussions.”
Without a doubt, learning English is more effective and rewarding when activities are relevant to students and engage them. SIM IA is committed to equipping students with the skills necessary for them to step forth confidently and succeed in a globalised world.
In the age of increasing globalization and technological advancements, companies often look at soft skills when hiring. To prepare our students for the real working world, SIM International Academy (SIM IA) provides co-curricular activities that enables our students to learn in different environments and culture.
Teamwork and Leadership Training
The SIM IA Student Leader Training Programme (SL), is offered to students who demonstrate leadership potential to develop awareness of their strengths, sharpen communication skills and hone their peer leadership abilities. Students are provided opportunities to initiate and plan school-wide projects under the guidance of teacher mentors.
During the SL training programme, students completed a 4-day Creative Problem-Solving Workshop, a proven method in teaching students to approach a problem or a challenge in an imaginative and innovative way. In June, students set off to a 5-day expedition to Sibu Islands in Malaysia and immersed themselves in an outdoor travel experience that involved camping on uninhabited islands. The expedition required them to work together and plan for their groups’ activities and safety. They also took this time together as orientation leaders, to plan the Freshman Orientation Programme for the next batch of new students. Orientation leaders play a vital role in facilitating the adjustment of new students to the IA community.
Dinawati Adillah (Year 9) speaks about the programme, “The expedition in Malaysia taught me the importance of stepping out of our comfort zones.” She adds that “every member regardless of whether he/she is an appointed leader, is equally important to the group because each one of us have different strengths to contribute to the team. We must be willing to learn from others so that we can become a competent leader.”
Nam Hyeonbin (Year 9) also shares her experience, “The expedition was a good chance for me to grow closer with other participants and to develop trust with others.” “For me, a good leader works at building trust and gives group members the belief that together, they are strong enough to overcome any challenge”.
(Students preparing their own kayaks during the expedition on 4 June 2018)
(Students preparing dinner for the group during the kayak expedition)
(Participants collecting marine debris from a beach as part of the coastal clean-up activity from 28 to 29 April 2018)
Strategic Thinking & Cultural Immersion
SIM international Academy provides students with opportunities to participate in international competitions, exposing them to different cultural experiences. In the recent World Mathematics Championships at the University of Melbourne, School of Mathematics and Statistics, students competed against other qualifiers in the region at the finals. Participants had to collaborate in different rounds within an intra-nation team, inter-nation team as well as joining a group at random. The structure of this championship provided an opportunity for participants to meet and work closely with students from other parts of the world.
It is also vital for students to have sound subject knowledge, creative problem solving skills, the abilitiy to communicate effectively and strategize under pressure. Wu Yimiao (Year 9) shares that “Although it’s a math competition, it comprises other skills like debating and public speaking. I found an improvement in my English as we had to converse daily in a common language”.
“The experience of living in Australia for a week, working with people from all around Asia, and competing with them was unforgettable,” shares Lieu Trieu Bao Thien (Year 9) “Through multiple interactions and involvement in this competition with new friends, it helped me to know myself more; it helped me to realize my limitations to become a better person overall. I will always be thankful to teachers in SIM IA for giving me this valuable opportunity to be out of my comfort zone.”
(Wu Yimiao, Year 9 defending his team in a head-to-head Mathematical debate)
(Lieu Trieu Bao Thien, Year 9 brainstorming ideas with groupmates of different nationalities)
(Group picture of SIM IA’s finalists (from the left) Lieu Trieu Bao Thien, Ban Semin, Wu Yimiao and Mathematics Head, Mr Lim Bock Boon at the World Mathematics Championships 2018, University of Melbourne)