HESS English Summer Camp 2020 : Learning English through ‘STEAM Box’ Projects

  • The HESS English Summer Camp of 2020 will integrate the learning of the English language with the learning of ‘STEAM’ content. 
  • Learning activities will be based on specially designed ‘STEAM Boxes’.
  • This is an innovative methodology based on cutting-edge educational research and neuroscience.


Using the ‘STEAM Box’ system, the students will be engaged in completing a range of practical activities that will also develop their English language ability. The knowledge and skills they will learn are from the curriculum areas known as ‘STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.  (http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Teaching/Future-focused-learning/STEM-STEAM)

This is an application of an educational approach known as CLILContent and Language Integrated Learning. When using a CLIL approach, the content drives the language learning. This way of teaching and learning is backed by considerable research in the fields of education, language learning theory, and neuroscience. In education systems where CLIL is used, students experience high levels of success whatever their age, ability, or previous learning. Girls and boys enjoy equal success. (See: David Marsh, Foreign Language Institutional program 2018)


Why use ‘STEAM Boxes’ as the foundation for English learning?


‘STEAM Box’ learning provides for relevant, authentic content.

Students view the STEAM curriculum area as providing knowledge and skills essential for their future jobs and lives. They will therefore value and be eager to keep learning, in order to know more. 


Steam-based activities will develop 21st Century Thinking and Social Skills

Critical thinking and creativity are key skills for 21st-century living. The nature of the ‘STEAM Box’ learning tasks will promote these. These thinking skills are the keys to the kind of learning which leads to competent successful learners.  The ‘STEAM Boxes’ are designed to also encourage students to be collaborative, cooperative, and communicative -vital skills for success in the workforce of the future.


The nature of STEAM resonates with young people

This is the digital generation, for whom technology is an integral part of their lives. They spend increasing time on devices, in which a multitude of different capabilities is integrated into one item: just think of the mobile phone. The integrated nature of STEAM learning therefore resonates with them. ( David Marsh-2017)  In STEAM, knowledge from separate subject areas is pooled together often forming new subject areas that focus on solving new problems in innovative ways. Biology and Engineering, for example, join to make medical devices.  Today’s students see this kind of knowledge as useful and are therefore highly interested in its possibilities.


‘Steam Boxes’ Suit Students’ Learning Styles

The activities in the STEAM  Boxes will link to the preferred learning styles of young people who have been impacted by their high exposure to digital devices. They no longer want to learn by sitting and listening – they need to be active. The STEAM  Boxes provide for this, promoting Hands-on Learning. Students learn by doing. They are active. They are curious about the new, different activity. They are in control of their learning, working at their own pace guided by their teacher. (See David Marsh presentation November 2017  at the inaugural conference of The Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) Research and Training Centre)


Engaged Learners

Research has shown that the best learning occurs when learners are fully engaged. This is what we see when students work on the ‘STEAM Box’ activities; they remain fully focussed, they feel satisfaction when they complete the real-world learning tasks, they enjoy themselves. They meet all the conditions for deep learning.


Two for One: Combining ‘English’ Learning with ‘Steam Box’ Learning. The benefits:

As outlined above, we have seen the benefits to our learners of choosing STEAM-based subjects as the key content in the HESS Summer Camp: engaged learners focussed on gaining knowledge and skills they value. These benefits are magnified when we combine our STEAM Box learning with our equal goal of learning the English language. 


English language learning is more successful. WHY?

  • Students are highly motivated. They want to learn more English so they can learn more about the ‘STEAM Box’ content.  
  • Students are more ready to use the language. They have a real need, an authentic reason to use English- they may need to ask a question, to explain to a fellow student how to do something; they want to be able to competently complete the STEAM Box activity. There is real communication.
  • Students are thinking more deeply in English, the target language. They have a real problem to solve, for example, they have to work out how to make something work, where a part goes, or why a step is not working well. They are learning about their STEAM Box topic, all the while, using English to do so.
  • Students retain the new language. They remember the vocabulary, phrases, and structures they learn because they hear them repeated, they repeat them themselves, in a natural, purposeful way.
  • Students are learning English to use now. They are not, learning now, to use later.  They are learning the language to ‘do’ things that are important to them now i.e. to complete their STEAM Box activity. (Why CLIL with David Marsh:  2014)


‘STEAM Box’: Learning about STEAM through English:

This is a win-win setting- for teachers, for parents, for the students.

‘Passionate teachers,  interesting content, engaged learners’.

Join the Hess Summer English Camp 2020.


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