This guest post is by ET Tan, former Chief Executive Officer of Penang Skills Development Centre.

STEAM is STEM with an ‘A’: the ability to Articulate and Amplify what you know about STEM is key to a successful career. That is what Tenby Schools Penang is preparing students for with the newly completed building that they call the ‘STEAM Engine’.

But first students have to be interested, excited and curious about their subjects in school.

International School Penang

60 representatives from participating partner companies and agencies attended the soft launch of the new 75,000 sq ft facility adjoining their campus in Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

We were taken on a tour of their Science Labs, Makerspace, Robotics and Coding Zone, Design Technology Suite, Art Studios, and even a Food Tech Lab and Black Box Theatre, in various stages of completion. They were buzzing with students from ages of 8 to 15, all bubbling with enthusiasm about their topics of learning.

The first room we popped into had students testing how earthquake-proof their constructions would be, using clever structures built out of straws and cardboard.

At the Food Tech Lab, under the dynamic leadership of Thomas, a Hungarian chef recently arrived in Penang, students prepared an array of canapes that could easily appear in any high-end restaurant menu: hoisin smoked duck pasta, lamb sliders, curry shrimp wraps (that the guests like me were more than happy to sample)!

Elsewhere, students were designing their own robots, and electronics kits. A chemistry class doing food analysis like glucose detection from samples collected to solve a ‘murder mystery’.

Wow. The mind boggles at the imaginative ideas employed to teach students in the most engaging way.

It boils down to the curriculum and pedagogy.  Every teacher I met was super passionate & explained how they designed their class activity to ensure the topic is covered and able to seed maximum interest in the students.

International School Penang

In these well-appointed classrooms, learning is a joy, the way it should be. More than one visitor was overheard saying, “Makes me want to go back to school!”

Mark Stone, the school’s Education Technology & Innovation Leader explained it simply. The issue today is the widening gap between what students need in order to prepare for the world at large, in any subject, not only science & engineering. Their goal is to transform learning, in closing that gap, and preparing students for that future. STEAM is the way.

Campus Director Jeanne Denyer explained they do not intend to restrict these wonderful facilities only to students from the school. As part of the community, the facilities will be available for use by neighbouring schools and organisations when the labs, classrooms & auditorium are not used by the school.

Come attend the launch of the STEAM Engine on 29th June 2024. All are invited.

Follow ET Tan for more innovative news and happenings on tech and humanity around Penang, and once in a while, some provoking thoughts sprinkled in.

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