With it becoming more clear this generation of students will need to excel in STEM-related studies, it’s no surprise the core curriculum has been pushed so strongly over the past few years. However, recently experts and educators have been asking the focus to switch slightly to include the arts. The reason behind the change matters more than you may think. Aiding in this move is the recently-released FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition line, a “playful introductory STEM program.”
Kids and STEM
The Rocket Club’s after school program meets New York’s Upper West Side and Hoboken, New Jersey. There, kids ages 9-14 learn about coding, robotics, and entrepreneurship. Paulo Nunes, Rocket Club’s president says that Rocket Club was built to help kids think creatively and take action like entrepreneurs.
“We find that depending on a kid’s environment, STEM gives kids the confidence to create,” adding that STEM is the perfect way to teach kids that they hold unlimited power and potential. “We want to empower kids to see everyday items as potential products that they themselves can build.”
Why Add the ‘A’
Nunes says that one of his favorite quotes comes from Albert Einstein. “He said, ‘The greatest scientists are artists as well.’ I think sometimes people are very limited in their thinking,” he says. “If they had only taken an art class, they would know that gray exists and that the world is full of colors that are often blended.”
Nunes goes on to explain how in today’s world, creativity is rewarded and highly sought after. “It’s important to keep kids in a less rigid thinking mode.”
You can see that belief put into practice at Rocket Club, where Nunes says art inspires science and science inspires art. He wants the kids from his club to be creative and build the technical side of robots, while dreaming of a way to incorporate new designs.
Arts Really Are Important to STEM
At Rocket Club, Nunes says the arts are just another part of creating. After the kids come up with their business ideas, they need to look at designs and draw prototypes. Because this club focuses on entrepreneurship as well, they also talk about branding, marketing and logs, something most creators will need to do at some point. “This gives them the sense they’re surrounded by art, design, and beauty — it’s up to them to find it and embrace their creativity.”
LEGO’s New Line
LEGO Education has recently released a FIRST LEGO League Jr. Discovery Edition line, which helps kids as young as four get creative with the brightly colored blocks. The manufacturer says the line is a “playful introductory STEM program” that helps kids to feel more confident and better equipped to face life’s ups and downs, and develop a life-long joy of learning.
A new Discovery challenge takes place each year, and teams of four children work together to come up with a solution by using LEGO and DUPLO pieces.
LEGO plays a big role at Rocket Club, as well. Nunes says in addition to some of the other tools they use, members get a LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Kit to build robotic race cars, cranes, claws, and the Mars Rovers, allowing them to bring wheels, gears, axles, joints, and pulleys to life. Once more illustrating the power LEGO has to inspire creativity.