Innovation @ NIST

| Bangkok, Thailand Curated by NIST's Learning Innovation Coaches

Student-Run Coding ECA’s

“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, helps you think better and creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.”
– Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft)

It is with pride that we can say students themselves have taken the lead to engage and dispense their knowledge in a range of student-run coding ECA’s. The activities are Learning to Code with Java led by Year 12 student Sid Charaschanya and Machine Learning with Python led by Jason Yeon and Ken Ngampraserthsith also of Year 12. The ECA’s have garnered the interest of students and a few members of faculty and have a promising future for students learning from each other and extending their understanding of a variety of concepts. If students are interested in being a part of these innovative topics and approaches to education, they can find the Java-based ECA every Wednesday at 3:40pm in room 4502 and the Python-based ECA every Thursday at 3:40pm in room 4502.

Harvesting Food: A new focus in Y7 Action Week

Year 7 recently returned from their Action Week trip to Farm de Lek and Wangree Resort, just outside Khao Yai National Park. One of the innovations to this trip was the introduction of farming and gardening activities at both locations.

At Farm de Lek, students learned about raising fish, recycling plastic, feeding farm animals, planting vegetables, and harvesting ornamental flowers and herbs. For many, this was the first time that they had experienced interacting with the soil, plants, and animals in such a fashion.

Equally challenging was gardening at the Wangree Resort. The main focus was on the use of waste to regenerate the soil through composting. Part of the activity involved the students turning over the compost to let out the heat which can reach temperatures of 90℃.

These activities were introduced this year to help students get a real sense of how our food is grown and harvested. A secondary, but equally important, goal of this introduction to raising plants and animals was to raise awareness of the gardening opportunities at NIST. The Rooftop Garden, on the roof of the Secondary building, is supervised this year by teachers Shompooh Surakanjanachat, Matthew Upham, Nathan Armstrong, Debra von Bargen, and Justin West, and is always looking to encourage students to help in maintaining the garden.

For more photos of the trip, please click on the following link: Year 7 Action Week 2019

 

Virtual Reality at NIST

Welcome to the good old days of Virtual Reality (Michael Abrash, Facebook’s top VR researcher, Oculus Connect 6, Sept 2019). VR technologies are in the midst of a period of rapid growth and expansion across many industries, but we are still very much in the early days of VR development. This is an ideal time for NIST students to be entering this field where the growth of VR technologies is predicted to expand at exponential rates driven by heavy investments and rapid growth in consumer devices (Statista, 2019). Industries such as gaming, automotive, transport, manufacturing, film, animation, cinematics, architecture, engineering, & construction are incorporating VR strategies into new ways of training staff, creating, prototyping, imagining and play. 

VR technologies, therefore, offer infinite independent pathways for NIST students.

NIST has recently purchased an HTC Vive VR headset to test out some of these possibilities. Our aim is to: 

  1. Learn the technology, 
  2. Explore available content, 
  3. Play with content creation (read more here)

Since the beginning of this school year, students & teachers from across the school have had the opportunity to explore VR. For some, this has been their first experience of VR while for others this has been an opportunity to extend their understandings. We have been playing with Beat Saber, painting in TiltBrush, designing in 3D with Gravity Sketch, experiencing 3D storytelling, testing our VR games in Rec Room, watching 360 videos in Within, building professional networks in AltSpaceVR and walking the world with Google Earth Street View. Most exciting has been students developing their own 3D worlds using Roblox Studio which they are then able to enter and experience with the Vive headset.

If you have VR experience and knowledge to offer or if you would like to test out the possibilities of VR yourself, please contact Philip Williams in the MLC elementary library at pwilliams@nist.ac.th

 

The Maker of the MakerSpace: Khun Siew

This week we’d like to celebrate one of our longest serving NIST employees who just so happens to work in one of the most well-liked spaces in the school, the elementary MakerSpace! Khun Siew has worked at NIST since 1996. In this time she has been the secretary to the Head of Primary, and an academic assistant for EY 1, EY 2, Y1, Y4, and Y6. As the elementary MakerSpace began to take shape, grew in popularity, and saw consistent and regular use, we saw a need for a full-time staff member. Khun Siew was tapped to fill this role. As soon as Khun Siew started in the MakerSpace, she brought a new level of organization and experimentalism. Khun Siew keeps the MakerSpace fully stocked with the various materials and is very resourceful in utilizing a variety of sources to find relevant materials. As a result, the Makerspace affords teachers the time and space to explore innovative hands-on learning experiences with their students. 

When asked what she likes most about working in the Makersace Khun Siew said:

“I love crafting and making things, so to be able to help guide and support students with their creations is fun and rewarding.”

NIST’s Visual Storyteller

In a community as large and vibrant as that found at NIST, there are often many events and activities running simultaneously that it is difficult to take it all in. To assist us all to get a better understanding of the breadth and depth of our community, NIST created the position of Visual Storyteller to help capture some of what makes NIST unique. The position is an innovative way for the NIST community to share its many stories in video form.

May Thatun – NIST’s new Digital Storyteller

NIST’s Visual Storyteller is May (Su Lay May) Thatun. Originally from Myanmar, May went to elementary school at Ruamrudee International School (her mom was a teacher there), then went to Melbourne and East Malaysia to finish off her secondary education. May has a degree in Communication Arts and has been particularly interested in film making. After earning her degree from Stamford, she did an internship at The Home BKK on Soi 23. The Home hosts events that focus on food, sustainability, art and design and sound. May was responsible for capturing the events on video at this space.

 

May’s inspiration to take on this position is her love for storytelling. When she was younger, she always liked to write stories and poems. She graduated into writing songs as she learned to play the guitar. Then, after she got a camera, she started created videos. May prefers video because it includes both the audio and visual elements in the storytelling process. 

 

To see some of May’s work (Buddy Time, Fuga’s Gymnastics Story, Introducing our Year 5 Story and more), take a look at the NIST Facebook Page.

Devices for Learning – MacBook Refresh

During the month of August NIST has distributed nearly 800 new MacBook Airs to students as we refreshed our MacBooks. The new machines are smaller yet have great battery life. We hope the students enjoy the enhanced display, audio, and TouchID security. More important than new machines is the reason that we use them. NIST teachers and students use technology as a tool to enhance and deepen their learning. We wanted to take this opportunity to remind our community of this vision. We feel that it is also a great time to point to a few resources which we have to help parents understand more about our laptop provision. Click this link to view Devices for Learning – Frequently Asked Questions.

The Year 5 Learning Community

This year, Year 5 students are excited to be working in a more flexible learning environment called the Year 5 Learning Community. The Year 5 teachers began preparing well before this school year to create the conditions for success. The learning space was designed by educational architectural firm Fielding Nair with input from NIST teachers to allow for more collaborative flow between students and teachers. The purpose of the Year 5 Learning Community is not only to offer students a more flexible learning space but also to offer more flexibility with time and learning contexts. In the Learning Community, students will have longer periods of uninterrupted time to engage with their inquiries—thus encouraging a state of learning flow. 

Learning in the Year 5 Learning Community will be based on authentic inquiries where students collaboratively explore transdisciplinary concepts through the NIST curriculum. It will also provide opportunities for students to personalize where, how and through what lenses they engage with NIST’s learning outcomes. The learning pathways students choose will be reflective of their passions, interests and goals in skill development. The Learning Community space will strive to offer learning experiences that align with the school’s vision: NIST will provide individualized and authentic learning pathways for students to flourish and positively impact others.

In a future where global citizens and workers will need to be more self-directed, goal-oriented problem-solvers, the Year 5 Learning Community will seek to give students an opportunity to practice the skills, attitudes and dispositions to be agile and resilient learners who can lead change in a rapidly evolving world.

 

Innovation Spotlight: Evidence-based Learning

We started the 2018-2019 school year with some beliefs about how we will use data (or evidence) to enhance student learning. A few key beliefs were that:

  • learning is deepened when educators and learners act responsively to a variety of evidence,
  • in using agreed, school-wide protocols and processes to collect, analyze, take action, and reflect, and
  • teachers and students should be empowered to engage meaningfully with evidence.

To help make progress in this area, a voluntary Evidence-based Learning Committee was formed (click to see the members) which met a number of times and collaborated with many teams around the school using a new, school-wide protocol for looking at evidence objectively to decide upon next actions. The committee also developed some goals and action steps towards these goals for the 2019-2020 school year.

  1. Trial a clear evidence-based framework, that students, teachers & leadership use for learning and decision making processes.
  2. For teachers and students to use and interpret data from formative assessment to evaluate learning objectively and inform the next steps of learning.
  3. To understand and support students (learning and wellbeing), we will utilize structures and processes (e.g. the Evidence to Action protocol) to make informed decisions.
  4. Developing a shared culture of evidence-based conversations.

The committee is very much looking forward to making even more progress next year.

 

Innovation Spotlight: Year 5 Robotics Unit

Year Five students are involved in a “How the World Works” unit where the central idea was “Exploration and innovation in robotics is changing society and the environment.” Students are inquiring along these lines: exploring and investigating robotics, impact of robotics on society and the environment, and creativity and innovation in robotics.

One theme we see in student thinking is how robotic innovation can solve problems. One of the tasks of the unit is to have students design something to solve a problem. They do this by prototyping with physical materials together with SAM Labs wireless electronic ‘blocks’ such as buttons, light sensors, motors, and LED lights. Solutions involve inputs, processing, and outputs. This is one of the fundamental parts of computational thinking. Students are also learning problem-solving by decomposing big problems into smaller parts in order to create a solution for each of the parts. They also find that iteration helps to reach a solution and that it is best to change only one thing at a time to see the effect.

Innovation Spotlight: A Virtual Tour Of Madrid

This month, Mr. Cristóbal González took his Year 7 Spanish class on a tour of Madrid, without leaving the comfort of his own classroom, through the use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Google Cardboard. The students were learning Spanish vocabulary around cities and directions, so the tour was perfect to immerse them in this language and put it all in context.

The tour showed the students many famous sights in Madrid, with an oral tour in Spanish, so the students could look around and listen to an explanation of these famous places. Many students were standing up, looking around the city, commenting on the different landmarks and helping each other find the interesting features of the tour. As you can imagine, this was an extremely memorable learning experience for the students and another example of how our teachers at NIST are innovating the learning in their classroom.

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