The Ministry of Inspiration is on a mission to encourage young people to be curious, to grow and to be challenged through STEAMS education. Part of the process is providing equitable access to learning resources for every child. Enter the STEAMS kit.
In 2016, Alan York and Amy Cornelisen embarked on a mission to develop the STEAMS kit, driven by a combination of Alan’s engineering/IT background and passion for micro-controllers with Amy’s frustration with the lack of resources available to support students and teachers in basic electronics.
Their goal was to create a comprehensive guide that would take teachers (and their students) from a state of knowing nothing about electronic circuits to being able to code an Arduino microcontroller and create their own circuits.
Alan and Amy developed a compact box that contained all the necessary materials for learners to work through the lessons. This included additional components to account for the occasional mishap or blown circuits, ensuring that learners could continue their exploration without interruption.
Launching the STEAMS kit
In 2017, through the Ministry of Inspiration, a not-for-profit charity, where Amy serves as CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer), the STEAMS kit was officially launched. It was made available to schools, students, parents, and wha-nau, providing a comprehensive resource for electronics education. The launch marked a significant milestone in enabling broader access to quality electronics learning experiences.
A number of schools across the country have since embraced the STEAMS kit and embarked on their electronics education journey. Here are two of those journeys.
Antonio Sardella, St Joseph’s School, Nelson
In 2020, Antonio Sardella introduced his gifted and talented group of Year 4 to Year 8 students to the fascinating world of creativity, coding, and electronics through the STEAMS Kit.
His experience with this group found that students who possessed an inclination towards creativity, electronics, and coding displayed a remarkable level of engagement throughout the STEAMS lessons. They thoroughly enjoyed working with the kits and eagerly embraced the challenges they presented.
“The hands-on nature of the kits, coupled with the opportunity to explore their own ideas, sparked their enthusiasm and curiosity,” he said.
“While some students struggled with resilience when hitting bugs, it is important to note that younger students, such as those in Year 4, surprised us with their resilience and ability to navigate through the lessons.
“Ultimately, the success of the kits largely depends on the students’ motivation, drive, and personal interest in coding and electronics.”
Insights and troubleshooting
For himself, Antonio found that the teacher handbook provided in the kits proved to be incredibly beneficial. As an educator, he appreciated the thoroughness of the handbook, allowing him to gain a comprehensive understanding of each lesson and its objectives. It not only guided him on what to do but also provided insights into how everything worked. This knowledge empowered him to effectively support his students, passing on accurate information and troubleshooting.
“Having experienced the immense benefits of the kits, I’m wholeheartedly committed to continuing their use in my teaching. They provide an exceptional platform for introducing the world of coding and electronics in a challenging yet accessible manner.
“By connecting to real-world applications, the kits enable students to develop a deeper understanding of the relevance of these skills. Furthermore, the open-ended nature of the projects encourages critical thinking and fosters creativity.”
Antonio’s recommendations for educators:
“I highly recommend the STEAMS kits to those seeking to incorporate coding and electronics into their curriculum. They’re suitable for a range of ages, although older students tend to benefit more due to the fine motor skills required to complete lessons successfully. It’s important to consider the students’ level of motivation and willingness to tackle challenges when determining the appropriate audience for these kits.”
Vince Fox – Tapawera School, Tasman District
In Term 2, 2023, Vince Fox introduced STEAMS kits to his Year 9 Materials Technology class. Despite facing challenges like limited class time due to external factors, the implementation proved to be fruitful and worthwhile endeavour.
He provided his students with the STEAMS kits, accompanied by some pre-teaching of generic electronics concepts. The pre-set lessons within the kits allowed the students to take charge of their learning, self-managing their way through the activities and exercises.
“They experienced a sense of achievement when successfully assembling the components and witnessing their functionality. In moments of uncertainty, students actively sought assistance from their peers, fostering collaboration and teamwork. An important lesson they learned was the significance of following pre-learned knowledge rather than randomly assembling components, as exemplified in a lesson where an LED was intentionally meant to blow as part of the learning process.”
Engage and enhance
“Despite not being able to complete all the lessons due to time limitations, there’s a strong desire to keep using the kits. I plan to explore the more advanced features next year.
“I have found that these kits effectively introduce and engage students in activities that apply their acquired knowledge and skills to solve real-world challenges within the materials technology field. The hands-on nature of the kits enhances student learning outcomes and deepens their understanding of the subject matter.”
Vince’s recommendations for other educators:
“Based on experience, I highly recommend STEAMS kits to other educators interested in incorporating electricity and electronics into their teaching.
“These kits are suitable for educators at any level and provide an accessible and enjoyable platform for students to experience success while gradually advancing their learning and problem-solving abilities. The versatility of the kits makes them suitable for integration into various disciplines, catering to a wide range of learners.”
Article supplied by the Ministry of Inspiration.
What’s inside STEAMS kits?
STEAMS kit is a portable box of hands-on, one-hour technology lessons with an engaging series of projects involving light, sound, and movement that encourage students to develop electronic and programming understanding.
Each contains all the components necessary (except the computer) for 14 hands-on, detailed lessons. The kit starts with simple electronic concepts that then lead students into controlling those electronics through programming with an Arduino pattern-based platform.
WIN a STEAMS kit. Enter here.
INTERFACE August 2023