Good Business: InsightSTEM
12 August 2015 - Impact Hub

Good Business: InsightSTEM

The Good Business column catches up with people who are leading social change. It’s been created in collaboration with Impact Hub Islington, a co-working and business incubation space in London for socially minded entrepreneurs. Here’s an excerpt from our interview with InsightSTEM
Non-profit organisation InsightSTEM provides a host of explorative learning techniques to help people become more comfortable with science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and not a text book in sight.

Bethany: Jake, tell us about your business.
Jake: InsightSTEM is a non-profit organisation based out of Arizona. Our main goals are to democratise science knowledge and education. We want people to be more connected to, comfortable with and excited by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We’ve focused on knowledge through exploration in various ways.
Who is your audience?
Individuals and groups of all ages. We help families become more engaged with teaching their children about science. We support and connect online teachers in schools around the world. Also, we work with kindergarten teachers because often they’re very uncomfortable teaching science; their curriculum is focused on numeracy and literacy instead of scientific and critical thinking and exploration.
We’re also working on a project with the American Association of the Advancement of Science where we’re connecting teachers with scientists and students in science and communication fields. They’re developing better ways to communicate science content through exploration.
How is InsightSTEM’s approach to science more democratic?
We give students a lot more opportunity to get hands-on and try things while still having the same learning outcomes that would be expected from reading a chapter of a textbook or something that’s strictly ‘teacher-directed’. Our approach incorporates kids working together on a project but reflecting everyone’s contribution to [the project] and giving real ownership over the results.
It also functions to address a lot more learning styles (kinesthetic, visual, auditory) because everyone is working together. One example might be a physics experiment with the frequency of sound in different length pipes: the groups could make a panpipe-type musical instrument, learn how to tune that and also predict how the length of pipe varies the note. Then the teacher could say, ‘How could you make me a note with exactly this frequency?’ All of that data is connected to something they built and are genuinely exploring. So [learning outcomes] fall into place much more easily.

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