During the early days of Thorro Learning, we assessed a number of options for a curriculum that meet our three goals of learning, problem solving and developing relevant skills. Unable to find something suitable to meet our goals, we came up with a new curriculum ourselves and called it STEM++
While developing the curriculum, we looked ways for students to appreciate science, math and language concepts as applied to the real world. Examples include Units and Measurements, Elements and Materials, and Creative Writing.
In parallel, we assessed what knowledge is needed for developing relevant skills, not just post high school but also post college. This led us to identify basic skills needed around business, communication, design and engineering.
Talking to computers has become the norm and it is absolutely essential to develop skills around coding.
Thus we landed on the five pillars of STEM++: Engineering, Science, Business, Communication and Coding. Let us look at these topics in some more detail.
Engineering: What we call engineering is really more about using design principles, math and science to become more creative. Let us say I’m trying to come out with a new type of wallet. I need to think about
- who is the user of the wallet,
- what does it need to do beyond carrying cash and cards,
- how much will I sell it for,
These questions in turn will lead me to ideas around
- how big it needs to be,
- what material to make it out of,
- how to make it,
- which colors to use, and so on.
Thus engineering is the very essence of how we approach inventions and product design.
Science: We cover Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Medicine. Starting with the basics in each topic – Newton’s Laws, Elements and Atoms, Cells, and the Human Body, we build out a set of activities to engage kids in learning the concepts and applying them.
Business: We realized that building financial literacy from an early age is important for kids. Thus we include concepts around money, paychecks, credit cards, and loans in beginner kits. We also look at gamified versions of launching a business, marketing it, deciding on the price for its products, raw material and other costs, and how to fund it.
Communication: We focus on written and verbal skills, starting with asking the five Ws, planning out the content, and coming up with a good structure. We look at various written mediums including blog posts, essays, short stories, articles, and comics. Within presentation, we look at making your own videos, live streaming, in person presentations, and podcasts.
Coding: We start with basic concepts around algorithms using a multi-player game. This would allow kids to learn about things like loops and conditional branching, without the use of a computer. We had to think hard about how to introduce coding to kids without the use of computers, and we landed on two games that will form the foundation to coding concepts. These would be followed by using computers to program in python and Java. We also introduce web applications and databases, since they are the cornerstone of modern day life.
We have more detailed videos explaining each of the curriculum topics in more detail. Check them out and comment below if you have any questions or suggestions!