The 21st century is an age of information. There are new things and new knowledge emerging all of the time. Those who will succeed in the future are those who have learning skills, as well as the capability to live a good life together. Teaching in the 21st century focuses on skills more than knowledge; on practice; on the process of finding answers to questions; on development of an individual’s potential.
Essential to the vision and programs of Starfish is preparing children for the challenges and opportunities of the future. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school will work in jobs that do not exist today. (add footnote). We have identified a series of skills that will most benefit children when they grow up. Additionally, we have also identified a series of skills that teachers need at the present in order to best prepare children for the future. Using a mix of these two variables, our programs are designed to build 21st century skills for children in Thailand.
Makerspace is a method that gives learners the opportunity to create things based on their own interests. It gives everyone the opportunity to think, research, design, plan, exchange, share, create and develop their work, leading to new innovation. Moreover, Makerspace also helps to promote creativity by providing an environment suitable for learning, including equipment for researching and creating new things, providing people with knowledge and skills, and having experts provide advice to help creators solve problems and work towards their goals.
Learning through Makerspace is possible through the use of a systematic process known as the STEAM Design Process. This 5-step process begins with questions about a problem (Ask), thinking of ways to solve that problem (Imagine), then making a detailed plan (Plan), creating a solution (Create), and appraising how the work went and remaking the solution to be better (Reflect & Redesign). Learning by using the STEAM Design Process in a Makerspace creates a familiarity with step-by-step problem solving for students, and develops learners to be thinkers, problem solvers, and reasonable in their actions.
The STEAM Design Process
Step 1 - Ask
Questions are great tools for self-learning. Good questions lead to observations, predictability, and analytical thinking. They also can stimulate curiosity, an interest in wanting to solve problems, the need to develop, and the desire to test difficult challenges.
Guidelines for asking questions include a focus on measurement and counting, asking about topics that interest a learner, comparative questions, questions about reactions and behavior, or predictions of what will happen.
Step 2 - Imagine
This step involves coming up with ideas to solve problems that occur, using original experience, brainstorming, asking additional questions, or searching for information to get the best possible answer. Generally in this step, a solution to a problem can be found, or even several answers for that matter. Learners will have to decide the best and most possible solution to get to the next step. They record their answers and decisions through drawing or creating tangible models that show what can truly be created.
Step 3 - Plan
In this step, learners specify the resources that are to be used, and lay out a process for how to make the ideas from the Imagine step become a real thing. Plans should be thought of in accordance with reality and should be reasonably possible to implement. They can be recorded in many forms, such as writing notes, making maps, using diagrams, or any other method not listed above.
Step 4 – Create
Learners follow their plan in this step. Creativity can result in many ways here, such as using materials to build a model, communication devices, books, concept art, an information campaign, or something else. In the action of creation, unexpected problems can be encountered, which may cause new questions to occur on top of the original question. Learners can go back to the Imagine step to try and fix the problem again, try to create in a new way through flexible thinking, or try to alter their methods and materials.
Step 5 – Reflect & Redesign
Here learners consider what they have created, compare it with the question or problem, decide if the question has been answered or the problem solved, and to what degree. They also can review the creation process, and compare it with what was imagined, so that development and improvement of the work can be achieved in the future. This can be done by oneself, or by allowing others to comment and suggest improvements.
PBL is a student-centered, project based learning management method. Its aim is to provide a system for the logical thinking skills of students by organizing learning activities on various skills, such as the problem solving process, creative thinking, critical thinking, research and data collection, a group process of active learning, the recording and discussion of ideas, as well as the integration of knowledge into different subjects.
There are two different forms of PBL. The Problem Based Learning method is based on the real-life problems of primary school students at Baan Pla Dao School, while the Project Based Learning method creates a learning process that uses what kindergarten students are interested in at Baan Pla Dao School.
EDICRA is an abbreviation for the 6-step process that is used in the PBL method. Here are those steps:
Step 1 – Explore
This is the step in which students will explore outside of the classroom or outside of the school, depending on the various learning resources in the community. Students then can create new ideas and also may encounter problems in the community or in society.
Then, the students determine the problems that they are most interested in studying as a project topic. Students share their experiences, decide what parts of the topic they are curious about, and decide what they should know about the topic they have chosen. Students can choose to work in groups or solo as appropriate.
Step 2 – Define
This step is the process of defining the problem. It includes specifying the subject of research about the problem that the student is interested in, in order to define the scope of what needs to be studied.
Step 3 – Investigate
This step is the process of searching for information according to the subject of research which resulted from the Define process. There are many research sources available today, including various media outlets, the internet, books written by experts, teachers, parents and even friends.
In addition to searching for information to study, in this step students must also collect information and analyze data in order to find guidelines for solving the problem chosen as project topic, and to gain more knowledge about what the student is interested in.
Step 4 – Create
This step is the process of creation in which the student’s work can be a physical invention, methods of knowledge or ideas, or suggestions that can actually solve the problem chosen as project topic.
Step 5 – Reflect
This step is a process for students to take their results from the Create step to try and solve the problem, to measure the success of their creation, and to see whether it really works or not. This includes identifying problems and constraints encountered during work, as well as solutions. In the Reflect step, if the results from the Create step didn’t turn out as planned then students can go back to edit or redo any previous steps.
Step 6 – Act
This final step is where students can make a positive impact by bringing the knowledge gained from the PBL process to present to others, and to create awareness by using various methods such as creating video clips, or arranging exhibitions and inviting parents, teachers, fellow students and guests to attend. The aim is to use the results of the process to benefit society.