It’s early on a June morning in Pathum Thani, Thailand, and 114 boys and girls are frantically scrunching newspaper scraps, snapping chopsticks in half, and bundling materials together with tape in an effort to build a tower with limited resources. The children must engineer robust structures capable of holding an egg on top while withstanding simulated gusts of wind. Cries of exhilaration, ahhs of disappointment, and cheers of triumph echo off the auditorium’s walls as towers fall or stand firm. This is an Innovation Camp for students, but they aren’t the only ones learning.
Mr. Sunthan Janthamud is among the cadre of teachers observing and supporting the students during the Kenan Foundation Asia-led Innovation Camp sponsored by Boeing. While the students are working, Mr. Sunthan is absorbing valuable knowledge about the STEM learning process that will make him a better teacher to his 4th grade math students in Nakhon Nayok province.
STEM is a buzzword that gets tossed around freely in education circles, and yet many teachers like Mr. Sunthan don’t know how to implement the approach in the classroom. More than an acronym standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, STEM is an integrated learning approach in which aspects of the four subjects are taught together and applied to solve real-world problems.
“Before I thought a science project was a science project, and a math project was only related to math,” admitted Mr. Sunthan. “I didn’t think these subjects could be integrated.”
After observing the Innovation Camp activities and learning from Kenan’s education experts, he began to grasp the approach and its effect on the learning process of students. He discovered that the project and inquiry-based learning techniques that Kenan introduced develop students’ knowledge in the four areas of STEM and foster key 21st century skills. For example, the ‘egg tower’ activity forced students to apply content knowledge related to physics, engineering, and measurement, as well as developed their soft skills, such as teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving. Explore Kenan's 21st century education model.
Once Wat Chiew Osot School was back in session, Mr. Sunthan eagerly began adopting the lessons and activities from the Innovation Camp into his own classroom. The response of his students to the new approach has been overwhelmingly positive.
“One thing I have noticed and that has captured me is my students’ sparkling eyes when I teach them the new lessons,” Mr. Sunthan described. “When their eyes are sparkling and they are paying attention to what I am teaching, I can see that they are eager and excited to learn.”
Witnessing the power of the integrated STEM approach at the camp, in terms of both the knowledge and excitement it engendered among students, inspired Mr. Sunthan to introduce the approach in his classroom, and the decision has paid immediate dividends for his students. However, the majority of students and teachers in Thailand have not experienced the impact of a world-class STEM education, a fact that is reflected in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), on which Thai students ranked 55th and 56th out of 72 eligible countries on the math and science components.
Kenan’s team of education experts work tirelessly to forward high-impact STEM practices across the nation. With your support, we can continue empowering students and teachers alike, and helping Thailand reach new heights.
Please contact us today by completing the form below to learn more about the many ways your company can support schools, teachers and students, such as sponsoring an Innovation Camp, supporting teacher training, or helping to equip classrooms.