Monthly Archives: October 2014

When the man behind Darth Vader suggests you look, you *really* should look

BRICKS 4 KIDZ Sydney | Edutopia STEM Infographic | www.edutopia.orgHere’s what you need to know:

  • People everywhere are realising that the careers of the future will depend more and more on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
  • These are not just traditionally geeky jobs like rocket scientists – these are what are considered “regular” jobs, like sales reps and forestry technicians.
  • We need to *inspire* kids at young ages about STEM concepts.
  • Unfortunately, the evidence in Australia is that our relative performance against other nations is falling.

George Lucas, the man who created the Star Wars films as well as Indiana Jones and other things, is a man with a mission.

In 1991, he co-founded Edutopia, an organisation dedicated to improving innovation in schools.  Currently, they are focused on engaging students with STEM, a successful approach to integrated studies that combines science, technology, engineering, and maths.

To that end, Edutopia produced this useful infographic, which we’ve shared here on the right.  It neatly captures:

  1. Why is STEM important (answer: many careers of the future will depends on mastery of STEM elements)
  2. How is the USA performing (answer: badly)
  3. What people can do (answer: get kids interested in STEM, early)

A full set of Edutopia’s resources for STEM are available here.

 

Why should you care?

Australian kids will be in the same jobs marketplace as US kids, given the increasingly global nature of the workplace.  The opportunities in STEM apply equally here as they do in the USA.

The Chief Scientist of Australia, Professor Chubb, agrees – in September, he released a report detailing his recommendations for a strategic approach to science and its related fields, titled Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future.

This new strategy is partly a result of our own tumbling results.  While the opportunities of STEM careers have grown dramatically over the last decade, PISA results from last year show that Australian high school students’ achievement in maths have slumped.  We’re going the wrong way.

Ask your school principal about their strategy for STEM.  If they don’t have one yet, they should get moving!

 

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Spatial intelligence: What is it, why is it important and how to develop it in your child

BRICKS 4 KIDZ Sydney | 8 Ways LEGO Assists Development

Everyone knows that LEGO® is good for kids.  Recently we posted this chart here, outlining eight ways that LEGO® assists your child’s development – one of those is to aid in the development of Spatial Intelligence. But what is that exactly?  And why is that important?

What is Spatial Intelligence?

Spatial Intelligence is the capacity to understand and remember the spatial relations among objects. Simply put, it is the ability to “see with the mind’s eye” – to picture what something will look like, before you create it.

Why is Spatial Intelligence important?

We’ve always associated “intelligence” with people who are highly literate and numerate. However, as noted in a paper by Carmel Diezmann and James Watters from Queensland University of Technology, a careful analysis of highly creative people in the area of mathematics and science suggests that other behaviours broadly identified as spatial intelligence are significant areas of human capability.

This means that people with highly developed spatial skills find success in solving many tasks in everyday life, as noted by Johns Hopkins University. For instance, using a map to guide you through an unfamiliar city, merging into high-speed traffic, and orienting yourself in your environment (as when you are learning your way around a new school building) are all activities that involve spatial ability.

Solar System | Huffington PostSpatial Intelligence is also important for success in many fields of study. Mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, economic forecasting, meteorology and architecture all involve the use of spatial skills: For instance, an astronomer must visualise the structure of a solar system and the motions of the objects in it. An engineer visualises the interactions of the parts of a machine. Radiologists must be able to interpret the image on a medical X-ray. Chemical sum formulas can be viewed as abstract models of molecules with most of the spatial information deleted; spatial skills are important in restoring that information when more detailed mental models of the molecules are needed.

In an age where so much compelling content is found online in the two-dimensional world of iPads and the internet, many kids favour the rich, tailored experiences found online over the messy, harder work of constructing something yourself using your own imagination.

We know that our greater use of technology influences the development of our brains, for good and bad.  An issue is that kids who don’t build things with their hands may struggle to develop their spatial abilities.  How do we create more opportunities to develop Spatial Intelligence in our kids’ daily lives?

How to Strengthen Spatial Intelligence in your Child

This post from Growing With Your Child lists five fun activities that you can use with your kids to aid the development of their Spatial Intelligence.  One of them is building with LEGO®.  In fact, building with LEGO® is also recommended in both the articles from QUT and Johns Hopkins University, linked above! Playing with LEGO® strengthens spatial reasoning and coordination skills, and in so do will enhance Spatial Intelligence.

On Monday 3 November, we’ll be announcing details of our Sydney Summer School Holiday workshop programs, providing kids with fantastic opportunities to dive into new BRICKS 4 KIDZ® creations with LEGO® Bricks.  Look out for the details.  For them, it’s an awesome day (or two) with friends – but you’ll know that it is more than just fun 🙂 .

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