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Predicting the future success of our children is impossible. However, what is possible is recognizing and helping them attain the skills and attributes they will need to be successful in their learning, work and personal lives. We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2030, we will need to reskill more than 1 billion people, as the job landscape will have been transformed. Even just to reskill so many people, leaders will need to be creative and collaborative. More than ever before, the world will need critically-thinking problem-solvers.
So how do we prepare our children for this very different world? We start by educating them to have both the hard and so-called soft skills needed to be the future changemakers.
Fairgreen International School in The Sustainable City was founded upon a mission to teach students to be solution-minded, innovative achievers. Delivering on their mission through an exciting International Baccalaureate programme that emphasizes innovation and teaching students about the importance of sustainability, the school implements a hands-on, project-based approach to learning that encourages inquiry, risk-taking and creativity, all of which support students in developing a solution-oriented mindset.
Fairgreen Head of Science, Anthony Copeland, shares an example of one of many skills he has been honing among students: computational thinking. This is looking at a complex problem, drilling down to define what the problem is, developing possible solutions, and then presenting these solutions so that they are understandable to a human or a computer. There are so many correlated hard and soft skills students are building from this way of thinking, including coding, mapping, data literacy, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and more. We asked Mr.
Copeland to share more on this topic:
In today’s computer-dependent world, this is a critical tool that students need to learn. You might be tempted to say that this thinking skill concerns only our technology teachers but in fact, there are lots of ways to integrate computational thinking into different subjects. As computational thinking pioneer, Steven Wolfram, who developed the web-based AI information tool, Wolfram Alpha, noted in his 2016 article ‘‘How to Teach Computational Thinking’’, there is hardly an academic subject left that doesn’t have an emerging field containing the word ‘‘computational’’.
Fairgreen is incorporating computational thinking skills into our new Middle Years Programme (MYP) science curriculum. We have begun by integrating activities that teach science with block-based or typed programming.
For example, in a space-themed unit, students are challenged to consider the decision trees that might allow a Mars rover to solve problems. These are then used to program LEGO EV3 robots to navigate an unfamiliar environment. Along with a focus on explicitly teaching computational thinking skills, we have also invested in sets of microcontrollers and sensors, predominantly Arduino Uno boards. These enable students to combine using electronics and programming to build machines that collect and process real world data. They are able to design their own machines for advanced authentic scientific inquiries.
Demystifying the software and hardware, that modern technology is made of, enables our students to use it as a medium for creation. Whilst you don’t need technology to practice computational thinking, it can be a useful approach to incorporate into any subject area.
If you’d like to learn more about Fairgreen’s innovative approach to education, join their next Virtual Open Day on “Developing Future Changemakers” on Wednesday, 17 March, at 11am. Register via www.fairgreen.ae/virtual
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