When the ambition of an organisation isn’t just to build information technology, but an information age – the requirement is to actively educate the world on the nature and potential of information, science and mathematics.
As such, IBM is championing innovative approaches to teaching and learning maths and science, as well as technology and engineering – referred to collectively as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
It has developed TryScience, a kiosk-based computer system aimed at 8-16 year olds, offering exciting interactive exhibits, multimedia adventures, live cameras and “field trips” from over 700 Science and Technology Centres round the world. It also includes extensive teacher and parent resources.
TryScience kiosks had been installed in seven science museums and centres across South Africa: Sci Bono and Museum Africa in Johannesburg, MTN Science Centre in Cape Town, Pretoria Science Centre, Durban Science Centre, Unizul Science Centre in Richards Bay, and the Mondi Science Centre in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga.
NEXT GENERATION OF INNOVATORS
“In all our programmes for young people, we’re focused on creating opportunities where few may exist,” says IBM South Africa corporate citizenship manager Sydney Hadebe.
“The STEM disciplines help prepare students to help solve some of the world’s most deeply entrenched problems,” he says. “If we’re going tackle some of the most important issue of our world, we need to prepare the next generation of innovators.”
While IBM has several global programmes underway, it customises its initiatives and makes them more relevant to individual countries.
In South Africa, IBM has a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Basic Education in terms of rolling out educational programmes and to identify and prioritise where the company should roll out its initiatives.
The TryScience initiative is not restricted to Science Centres and TryScience kiosks however – any learner or school with computers and access to the internet can also use the resources that are available online through the TryScience website.
TRAINING FOR EDUCATORS
A companion site launched in 2011, Teachers TryScience, provides primary school teachers with free STEM lessons integrated with instructional strategies. This site provides teachers with strategies on how to deliver maths and science lessons in a more exciting way, using a variety of resources that are provided.
The site offers teachers a range of resources, including pedagogical information – such as how to work with students in groups or how to teach students with different learning needs and styles – and practical how-to guides.
“Teachers TryScience is designed to give teachers the comprehensive supports they need to implement a lesson effectively, with a focus on hands-on projects that showcase what it is like to work as an engineer,” says Hadebe.