Today’s blog is a guest post by Thomas Tran, the Director of the Innovation Center at my school in Singapore, Stamford American International School. I am constantly inspired by what Thomas does in our school and it is an honor to work with him on a daily basis to lead and drive change and innovation to our 3000 students and 400 staff. Enjoy this look into the success of our Innovation Center at Stamford and stay tuned for more updates.
Exploration, discovery, and creation are the guiding principles followed at Stamford American International School’s Innovation Center. Our goal is to conserve and encourage exploratory thinking and action within individuals to nourish and cultivate an innovation culture at our school.
Exploration conjures a thought of independent choice and an opportunity to look into something of one’s own interest leading to the discovery one could act on which could become any form of creating. We feel to achieve this in an education setting, you must provide students an environment/space free to themselves. A space driven and curated with plentiful opportunities that they may choose to engage their interest with beyond the learning that happens within a school day or classroom. But with the intention that this self-guided learning sparks new ideas and allows for new skills, information, etc. to translate back into the classroom to be used to enhance their learning, engagement, and perspectives to what they may be learning or have learned.
In the Stamford Innovation Center, we are fortunate to operate a 2-floor space, utilizing the lower half for ‘Making’ activities and the upper half for ‘Digital Creating & Breakouts’ all functioning as a flexible and collaborative space supportive to all curriculums. We operate from K-12 allowing the space to mix age groups for collaboration and inspiration. We have specific rooms within the overall space serving varying purposes such as textiles, filming, 3D printing, and more, but all with the ability to be transformed and moved around within an instance.
We offer a wide variety of equipment from 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, inkjet plotter/cutter and more with a basic purpose of providing students the opportunity to ‘realize’ their work. From high-tech equipment and devices, we also focus largely in low-tech to no-tech activities, supplying students with variety of basic craft and building materials from popsicle sticks, foam, LEGOs, etc. and the tools like knives, glue guns, screw drivers, and more to work with. The safety and student policies in the space give students the freedom to use these tools or the ability to learn/train to utilize them.
Our space is completely student driven and acts as an experimental space for our students, but also for ourselves. Allowing our students to govern what tools should be purchased, the next tech to consider, and the activities being ran give us insights in how we should move forward and adapt to the needs of the learning they want to have. We create program opportunities and initiatives for our students to utilize the space during their free times and reach out and work with our classrooms to provide resources and develop opportunities supportive to their learning so this one destination can transform into a hub in the future allowing more Innovation spaces to cultivate. Every room can become an innovation space. Whether it is by tools, equipment, or partnerships that engage our students towards an innovative mindset, we learn from our students so we, in return, may be able to provide opportunities that they can continue to learn for themselves.
For more on our Innovation Center please watch this tour that we shared LIVE on the 11 October 2016 and don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions –> https://www.periscope.tv/mrkempnz/1ypKdARQkooGW
Stay tuned for more updates and information from our Innovation Center over the coming months.