Enhanced Project-based Learning Enables Kids to See Real-world Value of STEM Education
Nuttawut and his friends sit deep in thought on the floor of their classroom in rural Nakhon Nayok province. They are searching for a way to use technology to support their community. As time passes, an idea pops into Nuttawut’s head – they can build a frog trap!
Nuttawut comes from a family of fishermen and has obligations that extend beyond the classroom. Experience told him that academic knowledge and real-world application never intersect—that was, of course, until Kenan Foundation Asia began training his teachers at Wat Phothaen School on its Enhanced Project-based Learning (E-PBL) model. While rote memorization remains the teaching strategy of choice in most Thai schools, E-PBL changes that by empowering teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to bring the content of the Thai curriculum to life.
This brings us back to the frog trap. From his home life, Nuttawut knew all about the needs of fishermen. As part of a long-term E-PBL activity, Nuttawut’s teachers challenged him to apply his math and science content knowledge to solve a real-world problem. The open-ended assignment caused Nuttawut to ask himself a simple yet important question: how can I increase my family’s income? The answer he came up with was to build a tool capable of catching a larger animal (frogs) that could then be used as bait to catch even larger fish that would fetch more money at the local market.
With the hypothesis in mind, Nuttawut and his team went about building the frog trap. Using only recycled water bottles, a PVC pipe, and some glue, the students engineered the contraption. After some trial and error, the trap worked brilliantly. Beaming with happiness, Nuttawut said that the invention “helped me earn extra income for my family, which allows me to attend school.”
Kenan’s E-PBL model has proven time and again to spur kids’ interest in STEM and cultivate key 21st century skills. There are, however, too many students in Thailand that do not have access to this type of innovative education program. Every day, Kenan strives to provide more and more young minds with an empowering STEM education.