Basic literacy and numeracy are important, though to thrive in secondary and post-secondary academic environments, students need more than that. They need to have experience with collaboration, and to be able to engage with others across the various curricular areas.
That’s why STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or its latest iteration, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) instruction is so important. Schools in North America have the resources to offer that kind of instruction, including labs, digital resources, and creative design facilities. (A great example is the one recently launched at Bishop Strachan School in Toronto.) Schools in SVG don’t. While we can’t conceivably bring full-blown design facilities to the islands, there are resources that we can deliver that will help kids gain the same kinds of experiences and build the same kinds of skills.
One that we like very much is KIBO Robotics. It was first developed in 2007 at Tufts University, in partnership with the National Science Foundation. The goal was to build a developmentally appropriate, portable robotics lab for young children in Pre-K through Grade 2. It’s been piloted in Canada to great effect at Ridley College, where we visited to see it in action.
Bringing KIBO to Bequia is an opportunity to raise the level of instruction, and to get kids working together, at an early age, excited at the prospect, and gaining a foundation in those core STEM skills: collaboration, creative thinking, logical thinking, and coding. A basic classroom set includes 5 KIBO kits and related instructional material, including workbooks, assessment rubrics, and classroom displays, at a cost of $2500. So, there’s a lot of bang for the buck.