Kadimah School launches STEAM – a unique approach to the NZ inquiry-based curriculum
Auckland, New Zealand – On March 23, Kadimah School will become the first state-integrated primary school in New Zealand to fully embrace the STEAM approach to learning. STEAM – science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics – inspires students to be creative critical thinkers and flexible problem solvers. With STEAM fully integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and the school special character curriculum, Kadimah students are able to build a foundation for their secondary and tertiary educations as well as an unknown future where exploring different ideas, recognizing setbacks in learning as opportunities for discovery, and effectively communicating and working with others will widen their choices and chances for fulfilling careers. Along with preparing our children for their futures, STEAM teaches them to be respectful and empathetic members of society which ties in to Kadimah’s Jewish special character values.
What is STEAM?
Pioneered by the Rhodes Island School of Design in the United States, STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking and encourages the integration of art and design. The STEM to STEAM movement is surging forward as a positive mode of action to truly meet the needs of a 21st century economy. Integrating art and design with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) adds the more “humanist” layer to the program. But STEAM isn’t simply about teaching all of the subjects in the acronym alongside one another. It’s an engaging and exciting way of teaching and learning that acknowledges that children will need to know how to utilize all their knowledge and skills from all subject areas to be successful and confident citizens of the future. Kadimah School’s vision is to inspire students of all backgrounds, nurture their curiosity and help them develop creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills. “The ability to be exposed to working with technology, robotics, engineering challenges, arts and maths programmes on a daily basis, creates a diverse pool of opportunities to suit and cater to every child and their preference – everyone has got the chance to excel in what they like,” says Sue Meltzer, Principal at Kadimah School.
Integrating STEAM at Kadimah School
Staff at Kadimah School worked with educators from Sisler High School in Winnipeg, Canada for more than a year to develop Kadimah’s draft curriculum. The NZC is the backbone of this curriculum and all the learning levels and outcomes match the strong inquiry-based NZC. The journey began with the introduction of the Vex Robotics programme, supported by the Raye Freedman Trust – a programme that has seen great success and will be continued into the future. “STEAM will prepare Kadimah students for their future lives in all areas including their Jewish lives. Our pupils will be able to graduate from Kadimah with a sound education and will also know how to use all their knowledge and strategies that they have learnt in the STEAM subjects to launch themselves with confidence into their future whatever those futures are,” says Meltzer.
How STEAM benefits children
STEM alone misses several key components that many employers, educators, and parents have voiced as critical for New Zealand children to thrive. With the employment market place changing rapidly, there is much more demand for professionals who can be experts in their field as well as have excellent social skills and able to work within a group. With the STEAM approach students learn from the earliest ages to take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process in order to innovate. “It takes a combination of skills to produce a successful presentation or project. By the time they reach high school, they will already know how to collaborate and accept others ideas,” says Meltzer.
STEAM is also offered as an After School Programme for Kadimah students children age 7 and up at a cost of $25 per session (casual) This initiative is planned to be extended to children outside Kadimah in the next year. STEAM will create the learners, educators, leaders, and innovators of the 21st century!
About Kadimah School
Kadimah School is New Zealand’s only state-integrated primary school with a Jewish special character. Jewish holidays and festivals are celebrated throughout the year and Hebrew is taught at all levels. Kadimah also recognizes the importance of Te Reo with programmes that have a Maori dimension where possible i.e. greetings, commands and language related to everyday concepts. Kadimah is committed to small class sizes and specialist teaching in order to meet individual children’s needs and develop them to their full potential. As the Jewish special character has STEAM subjects integrated throughout, students can enjoy the strong inquiry based curriculum taught in Jewish studies too. “Having opened our special Jewish character curriculum to a more modern, innovative thinking, integrating an inquiring approach and collaboration within the class has really helped to get the children engaged and excited about learning of their traditions and heritage,” says Meltzer.
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