By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato
Developing STEM and STEAM programs (Science Technology Engineering/Art Mathematics) is very exciting, but I have noticed recently there is a lack of cohesive standards to measure progress.
Like many people, I am working on building a set of standards. Some are customized, and some are licensed.
In my research, and through various networking engagements, I have settled on a set of core skills that need to be incorporated throughout the STEAM environment. The standards are being built around these skills.
I have found more engagement among students if the skills are presented first. The skills tend to fuel the desire for hands on work. I also want students to not focus on grades and common rubric models. I want them to focus on creating and going through the design process.
These skills have been developed by the MIT FabLab Program. The FabLab has been operating for well over a decade, and many FabLab partners have developed programs for younger students as well.
The overall philosophy is to learn the skills at every level, but increase the difficulty and complexity within the projects as students gain experience.
|DIGITAL FABRICATION PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES|
|COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN, MANUFACTURING, AND MODELING|
|COMPUTER-CONTROLLED CUTTING / Drawing|
|ELECTRONICS DESIGN AND PRODUCTION|
|3D MOLDING AND CASTING|
|COLLABORATIVE TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT|
|3D SCANNING AND PRINTING|
|SENSORS, ACTUATORS, AND DISPLAYS|
|INTERFACE AND APPLICATION PROGRAMMING|
|EMBEDDED NETWORKING AND COMMUNICATIONS|
|DIGITAL FABRICATION APPLICATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS|
|INVENTION, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, AND BUSINESS MODELS|
|DIGITAL FABRICATION PROJECT DEVELOPMENT|
Looking at this list, it might seem impossible to imagine a Grade 3 or even Grade 8 students accomplishing these in a meaningful way. I would argue that all are achievable at least at the planning and design thinking stage. Most of these are achievable with the correct level or equipment and/or some creative outsourcing.
Gamification has been a buzzword at conferences for some time. I have finally found an fairly universal way to “gamify” the list and formally track progress.
As students learn a core skill at different levels, their progress as a class or individual can be color coded.
For better analysis, the color bands can also connect to numeric values. There are many ways to approach tracking. Even curriculum mapping systems can do this.
The best part about this structure, is each school can decide what their levels mean for their students.
I look at this as age independent. It is very possible for a grade 5 student to be a beginner in many skills, and have completed others at a level. It is also very likely that many older students who have never attempted STEAM topics, would fine they can quickly master Levels 1-3, while struggling with the final two levels.
As a student, I would like to see this type of grid and work towards being in the all green club :).
As a teacher, I would like to have students be all green, and after the smiles settle, add Level 6.
If you are inclined, share how you are measuring STEAM and STEM skills or standards. You can do this in the comments, or email me directly. I will post all ideas and give you full credit. ~ firstname.lastname@example.org