Learn to make things that make a difference in the world

International STEAM Competition 2019

“Students need to learn to make things that make a difference in the world.” This was the thesis behind the winning lesson plan at NAYTEA’s (North American Youth Technology Education Association) inaugural International STEAM Curriculum Competition. Utilizing research from Agency by Design, along with borrowing elements from Design Thinking, Learn Startup and Business Model Canvas, Lisa Yokana and Brian McDonald from Scarsdale High School presented a STEAM program encompassing many levels, resulting in not only deep student learning but also in them receiving the award as the Competition Winner.

What set Lisa and Brian work as the team on STEAM program apart from others was her strong belief in making with purpose: making a difference in the world. Their comprehensive STEAM program asks students to solve problems at three levels: the classroom level, the community level, and for people whose needs differ greatly from their students’.

Whether using power tools or complex software and robotics, students are encouraged to “play” while making. Through this experimentation, students also gain a better understanding of who they are, and how their perspective is but one in the world. As prototypes are eventually constructed by teams of their students, a greater lesson occurs: students learn to be creative, resilient and make a difference in their world.

Congruent with NAYTEA’s mission of becoming the Global Innovator’s Community, STEAM project-based learning like Lisa Yokana & Brian McDonald’s curriculum ensure that students are engaged in collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and computational thinking.

Although it was written a century ago, progressive education pioneer John Dewey’s words are resounding loudly with innovators like Lisa Yokana&Brian McDonald: “true learning is based on discovery guided by mentoring, rather than the transmission of knowledge.”

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