How might we provide the optimal environment for learners to flourish in STEM?

Short read: The headlines

In January 2020, I am leading a professional study tour with a STEM focus, visiting schools, universities and science centres in Scandinavia, Europe and the UK.

Across the world, innovation hubs, maker spaces and STEM centres are developed to inspire young (and old) scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. 

Where do you find the inspiration to develop the state-of-the-art learning environment?

I will be leading a tour this January to explore best practice in the design and application of STEM. Exploring schools and universities, but also the most exciting science centres in Europe, with behind-the-scenes tours where possible (more is explained in the long read). Concluding with a visit to Bett Show, billed as the world’s biggest technology event is held annually in London.

Curious? Head over to Culture Learning Design [STEM] Tour 2020 to find out more and register your interest.

Longer read:

STEM subjects, science, technology, engineering and maths, are critical knowledge centres as we take advantage of the emerging opportunities, and address global challenges.

This might entail designing a wholistic STEM environment that will inspire curiosity and creative thinking, enable multi–disciplinary exploration, and where learning is hands-on and ‘body-in’ as much as ‘minds-engaged’.

Where learning is not just hands-on, but also body-in and minds-engaged, at Danfoss Universe in Nordborg, Denmark.

During my earliest study tours to Scandinavia (2010 and 2011) we visited Danfoss Universe in Denmark. The founder, Jorgensen Mads Clauson, believed that:

We need a new place to bring passion for science and technology back to our children. Danfoss Universe shall be such a place.

Danfoss Universe  was borne out of a commitment to develop a place to inspire creativity and innovation in young people, successfully combining the ‘wow factor’ of the theme park, with the ‘aha’ of the science centre.

The philosophy of Danfoss Universe was explained to our group as based around the Theory of Interest Development, perhaps drawing on the work of Andreas Krapp (2007):

This process takes the learner on a journey from providing the context for extrinsic inspiration, toward the individual learner developing deep intrinsic motivation, independently pursuing further learning. It reminds me of another young scientist I met in the UK a few years ago, we were visiting his school:

UK Student Corrects NASA Data Error

Miles had his interest triggered through providing the opportunity, and he then maintained a personal interest. To Miles, spreadsheet interrogation is ‘a lot more interesting than it sounds’.

How might your new (or current) STEM Centre or Innovation Hub support the diverse interests and passions of learners?

As I begin making plans for Culture Learning Design [STEM] Tour 2020, Danfoss Universe will be closed for the winter, but there are a number of other science centres on the radar to provide inspiration. Where possible, I am hoping to organise a behind-the-scenes tour of the places we will visit. Hopefully including:

Experimenta in Heilbronn, is Germany’s largest science centre, opened earlier this year. The building’s five pentagonal shaped stories are twisted and stacked. The design provides a place for the four worlds that shape the visitor experience – Metabolism, Head Stuff, World View and Adventure Playground

Science Centre Delft  – Science, design & engineering are the three main themes of the Science Center Delft. A unique gathering place for all research that is done at TU Delft (university). Visitors can experience the research setups of TU Delft researchers and students. (Netherlands)

Read: The Making of a Science Centre (TU Delft)

NEMO Science Museum – I have visited NEMO numerous times, along with the quality of the exhibitions and activities is the high level of engagement from the children and young people. NEMO’s mission is to bring science and technology closer to the public in an interactive and accessible way. (Amsterdam)

Den Bla Planet in Copenhagen is Northern Europe’s largest aquarium on the shores of Oresund. Designed by Danish firm 3XN the architecture is inspired by a vortex. ‘The Blue Planet’ is at the international forefront with world class architecture, with thousands of animals from all over the world and advanced presentation technologies.

In addition to this, I am on the lookout for schools and universities with exemplary STEM facilities and programs, particularly in the UK. The Northern Hemisphere is presently on summer vacation, so these will be confirmed in a couple of months.

Each year at the end of January, Bett Show, billed as the world’s biggest technology event is held in London. It is the industry event for the ed tech sector. Along with exhibitors, there are headline speakers, focusing on the future of education. The tour will conclude in London with BETT.

Curious? Head over to Culture Learning Design [STEM] Tour 2020 page to find out more and register your interest.

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