We are seven Co-Design Year students who have a diverse range of socio-economics and academic backgrounds. It seems we have nothing in common; but we do. Pondering the prospects of teaching STEAM* and how to promote STEAM education in Vietnam, we found our similarity.
Being inspired by the liberal arts education and interdisciplinary approach at Fulbright University Vietnam, we could not stop asking ourselves:
“Why are we still approaching STEAM as separate subjects instead of an interdisciplinary educational method?”
“What should we do to help students turn their vast amount of in-depth academic knowledge into practical usage?”
“How can we facilitate an environment where students can take ownership of their learning processes and projects instead of being ‘taught’ and ‘guided’?”
More than just posing questions, we are more passionate about making changes. We quickly gathered together and formed a group; we call ourselves F-Green.
After many sessions brainstorming new ideas to form a strategy, we decided to propose a plan for a three-week summer camp for June 2019, which would focus on teaching design thinking by using interdisciplinary STEAM education as the foundation.
It was an ambitious plan. In the course of two months, we intended to recruit 30 creative high school students from all over the country, six mentors from top universities in the world, along with other experts, partners, and other resources.
Dividing into sub teams, we spent January and February to work at full throttle on the step-by-step action plan with the advice from the faculty and staff at Fulbright.
We sprinted to perfect the basic curriculum, budget, admissions process, communication strategy, and event strategy for a series of 3 talk-shows about STEAM in March, April, and May. It was the most fast-paced and chaotic, yet most exhilarating two months of our lives.
We rushed the project; we aspired to do too much in too little time. This resulted in some miscalculations in the curriculum and the supervision of campers. After a genuine and transparent discussion with multiple staff members from different departments at Fulbright, our group sobered up from excitement to face the harsh, but much needed, truths: a 3-week time could be risky for the first run, and the camp could not take place in June.
That night, for the first time, the F-Green sat in a circle to reflect on our process and the advice we received.
“I guess we should have more reflections together so that everyone is on the exact same page, instead of only focusing on our specific tasks.”
“Think big. Start small. Test and revise as many times as we need to anticipate all of the possibilities.”
“The curriculum is the soul of our project. Cultivate the soul first before giving it a body.”
Those were the key takeaways we reached after the serious reflection. We even wrote them down on our notebooks to make sure we learned our lessons.
It, then, was the right time to switch from “Operation: Rush Hour” to “Soul Phase: F-Green Beta Version”.
We now dedicate our time to work meticulously on the curriculum – the soul of our camp – with a team of experienced students and experts. F-Green will organize multiple test sessions with a diverse group of high school students from different educational backgrounds, starting in March 2019.
We also have a sub-team to organize the series of 3 talk-shows about STEAM. Respectively, the topics revolve around STEAM Career, Education, and Sustainable Development.
The first talk-show titled “STEAM Career Prospects” already took place on Saturday, March 2, 2019, with guest speaker Mr. Lê Hồng Minh – Founder and CEO of VNG Corporation, and an F-Green student moderator. The event attracted more than 150 participants and gained strong traction from the public.
As the organizer, we are thrilled that our audience felt more confident, inspired, and thought-provoked after the talk. Reading articles about our event from different newspapers is also a great source of motivation for us. We feel as though we were on a roller-coaster seeing our first student-led project going from the planning phase, to the struggling phase, and finally the fruition phase.
We are currently planning the second talk-show, which will be a panel discussion on STEAM Education. Our goal is to stimulate an open medium where people with different expertise and can come together and freely discuss STEAM.
We expect the panel to be a unique collaboration among an educator from Fulbright, an educator from a traditional university of Vietnam, a member from the government or from an employer, a parent, a student, and of course, our audience.
Stay tune to hear more from us.* STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking