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29 November 2017 12:00 am

How schools in Qatar are embracing the link between arts and science

You may have heard of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), but have you ever heard of STEAM? The ‘A’ is for ‘Arts’ and Compass International School in Qatar has gone all the way to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to learn why the link to arts means success across all subjects. Click here to read more!
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By Simon Porter

Images courtesy of Compass International School Doha 

Let’s talk for a minute about STEAM power. You may be familiar with STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), but what about working beyond the limits of STEM? Compass International School in Doha has forged a ground-breaking collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where they focus on STEAM.

You may well ask what the ‘A’ in STEAM is and why does MIT and Compass International School Doha feel the need to insert the extra letter?

The ‘A’ stands for ‘Arts’ because we know that “a vivid imagination for new ideas are not generated by deduction, but by an artistically creative imagination.” (Max Planck, founder of Quantum Physics)

From Leonardo da Vinci to Einstein, from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, advances in technology, science, and engineering have relied upon creativity and imagination. By including Art in their work on traditional STEM subjects, MIT and Compass International School Doha recognize that.

In December, every student at Compass International School Doha will receive a ‘Curiosity Cube’ containing materials to build and create their own imaginative STEAM projects. This will be followed in January by a STEAM week, when 1,600 young people from ages 3 to 18 across their three campuses will attempt a series of challenges set for them by MIT around the theme of ‘Navigating Tomorrow’.

Students will be looking at the issues surrounding autonomous vehicles (such as self-driving cars).  Some will build their own robot vehicles while others will be considering the substantial ethical implications of having computers driving cars. They will be looking at the physics of aeroplane design and how planes can be made more fuel-efficient. Some classes will be building their own wind-tunnels to test their designs. Students will also be considering the implications of using biofuels. They’ll also be visited during the week by several special guest experts from here in Qatar, as well as experts from MIT.

As part of this collaboration, seven teachers from Compass International School Doha have travelled to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, to have a week-long intensive training from MIT professors and doctoral students. This allows the capability to offer the best access to STEAM learning throughout the curriculum, not just during the STEAM week. The MIT motto is ‘Mens et manus’ which means ‘mind and hand’.  By engaging students in the very essence of this by allowing them to use their minds to create with their hands, and as a result of this collaboration, Compass International School Doha is at the forefront of practical, hands-on problem-solving activities in student education in Qatar.

[Simon Porter is Director of Learning at Compass International School Doha and a regional lead for Nord Anglia Education’s ground-breaking collaboration with MIT. Find out more about this collaboration at #NAEMIT, and find out more about Compass International School Doha here.

What are your thoughts on new approaches to creative problem-solving by combining scientific subjects with an artistic approach in the classroom? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to like and share this article!