The Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology brought a makerspace on wheels group to middle school students at Thomas Jefferson and Memorial Middle Schools in Fair Lawn, N.J., March 4-6, to raise interest in technology while promoting the value of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) education and its application in the real world.
Partnering with the National Museum, manufacturers Sandvik Inc. and Sandvik Coromant, both based in Fair Lawn, N.J., sponsored the hands-on workshops which gave students the opportunity to experiment with programming, robots, and electronics. Intended to spark the creative process, students created prototypes using Strawbees and Quirkbots, which are Swedish inventions used in education around the world, that introduce simple programming and mechatronics into the prototype designs which encouraged students to try out new ideas.
“We are proud of our continuing partnerships with Sandvik Inc., which has supported our schools locally through our STEM league competitions and our high school technology laboratory,” said Ron Durso, district supervisor of science and engineering for the Fair Lawn Public Schools. “This newest partnership will provide all of our seventh-graders with an opportunity to see how coding, technology, robotics, and design-thinking can be used to solve problems in the local and global communities.”
According to JoAnn Mitchell, senior partner marketing specialist at Sandvik Coromant: “The objective of the Maker Tour is to strengthen the confidence and lower the threshold for the students to get started with innovation and problem-solving. We have seen that the creative process can be a powerful way to learn with a high intrinsic motivation from the students. Using our hands is key to developing our nervous system and problem-solving skills. What we learn from tinkering, putting things together, taking them apart—investigating real-life 3D structures—is helpful to us in almost all aspects of life.”
“We have found a great way to inspire both teachers and students all around Sweden, and we are convinced that it will work equally well internationally,” said Maria Olsson, who is responsible for the project at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm. “Teachers often have a positive view of digital development but lack the tools to work with this subject in the classroom. The traditional classroom-based method of teaching needs to be complemented with creative, hands-on activities.”
Jessica Alm, head of Sandvik Group Communications, stated: “The ability to find the right skills is crucial to the success of our company. We are working in many different ways to inspire an early interest among young people in mathematics, the natural sciences, and technology. We are a global company, and the Maker Tour gives us the opportunity to demonstrate Sandvik’s values and wide-ranging areas of expertise. The Maker Tour has been a great success in Swedish schools, and it’ll be great fun to introduce the concept to American students.”