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STEAM power at DkIT

Posted on February 24, 2017

Staff and students are to the fore of a new international movement in education and its’s all about STEAM. The Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music are engaged in a Strategic Partnership: Agents of Change in Education (SPACE), exploring the potential of an integrated education philosophy involving Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Many of the programmes in the Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music combine arts and technology every day and this complements moves in education to develop new systems of learning and teaching.  Some of the graduates will go on to careers in education while many more will influence future education practices through their roles in industry.  This project provides a wonderful opportunity for staff and students of DkIT to be involved in change as it happens in an international context.

In November, six students from the BA (Hons) Applied Music and BA (Hons) Production of Music and Audio programmes joined three of their lecturers for a weeklong intensive programme in Belgium. Based in the historical city of Lier, they worked with colleagues from Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Slovenia and The Netherlands based at Artesis Plantijn University College in Antwerp. Together they developed a shared understanding of STEAM education that they, as agents for change in education, shared with 150 university students training for careers as teachers from Kindergarten upwards.

Speaking about the ‘Write A Science Opera’ workshop that she was involved in, Drogheda music student Ciara Brannigan commented: “I really enjoyed the friendships that we all gained from the week. I also enjoyed the WASO workshop. It was interesting to see everyone else ideas displayed as we moved form story board to story board.” Jane Meehan from Dundalk also enjoyed it: “Hearing the different ideas that everyone had during the workshops was also really cool, it was interesting to see how creative everyone could be both separately and together (and the WASO workshop was pretty cool too!)”.

After an intensive couple of days of workshops, on Friday the group put the theories to the test. Over 150 participants in the STEAM week and SPACE project visited the Basisschool Parkschool in Lier where they facilitated a varied programme of activities for school children from the age of four to fourteen. As the school became a pace of wonder about space, pupils creatively engaged with exploring or suggesting how they might get to the moon, what it might be like to live there, and how they could overcome challenges presented. Their art may provide answers for scientists; their science the inspiration for artists. Lecturer Dr Daithí Kearney noted: “The success of the day was epitomised by the young boy who ran in to the schoolyard at lunchtime and informed his school principal that he had designed a rocket that would take him to the moon.” Fellow lecturer Richie Price was equally enthusiastic: “It was fantastic to see what could be achieved by such a diverse group in just a couple of days. I’m looking forward to developing some of these ideas further as we progress.”

Commenting on the project, DkIT project leader and Head of Department Dr Adèle Commins said: “Our week in Belgium is just the start of an initial three year research project that has a number of aims. We will develop the concept of STEAM education and share it with our colleagues and students. Our students will pioneer new methods and pedagogies in their careers, inspiring the next generation through holistic education that combines creativity and enquiry across STEAM. We will share our resources with as many as possible. From our perspective, we hope to ensure that Ireland remains at the cutting edge of education and in doing so meets the needs of both industry and society.”

The staff and students are back at their various institutions again but the learning continues through social media and a Virtual Learning Environment that is being developed and hosted by Dundalk Institute of Technology. Various members of the group will meet again in 2017 in the Netherlands before the next big intensive programme in Norway in 2018.

For more information on Creative Arts, Media and Music programmes at DkIT click here

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