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STEAM from the gridiron

STEAM from the Gridiron

Kanoe Namahoe, October 25, 2017,Education ,Connected Teaching and Learning

Photo courtesy of 49ers STEAM EducationSTEAM.943

What happens when students experience science, technology, engineering, arts and math through lessons about football?

Practical learning, says Jesse Lovejoy, director of STEAM education and the San Francisco 49ers Museum. "Sports are generally understood and compelling," says Lovejoy. "They also happen to be a great lens through which to examine the subjects of STEAM or any other subject really."

Lovejoy coordinates the 49ers STEAM education program, launched in 2014 at Levi's Stadium. The initiative, part of the 49ers Foundation that serves K-8 students in Bay Area schools, aims to provide students with a real-world look at STEAM using the concepts of football.

I spoke with Lovejoy about what it takes to capture students' interest and open their eyes to the possibilities in STEAM fields. Here are some of his top tips:

Make it relatable. Sports make sense to students, even to those who are not athletes, says Lovejoy. "What we have in the game of football is this really simple and approachable idea," he says. "Sports -- whether kids like to play basketball, baseball, football or soccer, field hockey, swim or run -- they know what they are. They understand what it is."

More than half -- 56% -- of the students who attend the 49ers program come from Title 1 schools, according to reporting from Forbes. Many are young athletes for whom sports is their first language. Program activities -- such as math exercises around player stats -- help connect STEAM concepts to students' interests. The goal is to expose students to new opportunities that let them see how their passions connect to real life, says Lovejoy.

"Our mission [for] using this platform [is] as a way to change the way that kids perceive, relate to and want to explore these subjects," he says. "If we can reach these kids and be that moment of inspiration for them…[we want] to show them this is real life -- these are things you can approach through things that you love."

Speak about the job. It's time to redefine STEAM and help students understand it's not an "abstract concept that lives in a lab and wears a set of daisy glasses," says Lovejoy.

"Instead of speaking about the subject, speak about the job," he says. During their visit, students learn about different jobs at the stadium, including engineers, chefs, accountants, data analysts, football players and coaches, and how the work involved relates to STEAM. Lovejoy says the key is discussing these functions in practical terms students understand.

"When we're teaching engineering, I'll go in a classroom and tell a kid, 'Hand me something,'" he says. He explains how ordinary objects such as paper, pens or shoes are engineered and how that process helps continually improve those objects. Students also get to see how football helmets are built and how they have evolved over the years.

"And that whole idea is something kids are not usually presented with when it comes to the concept of engineering," Lovejoy says. "Making something better, making anything better."

Let them get their hands dirty. Hands-on activities are "very powerful for a child in terms of inspiring creativity and collaboration and critical thinking," says Lovejoy. He advises educators not to presume that students know what it means to be creative.

"You have to engage young people at a very primal and practical level to inspire creativity," says Lovejoy. "In some cases, you even have to tell them what it looks like and model it for them. I think they hear this word and think, 'Does this mean I draw something? What does this mean?' That's the first part."

The 49ers program uses technologies such as simulation and touch screens to deliver learning content but also places great emphasis on fostering creativity through project-based learning and tactile experiences. Activities such as creating face masks from straws and fitting them to helmets or using K'nex and wooden blocks to build a stadium help reinforce STEAM concepts, nudge students out of their comfort zones and let them develop creative muscles, says Lovejoy.

"For us, it's about putting things in the hands of young people, with the right information, and asking them to build something," says Lovejoy. "And intentionally doing that in a real-world environment and not in a digital environment. We want them to hold, touch and build. That, for us, has been very powerful."

Use process to teach job skills. Process is a valuable way to demonstrate practical application of STEAM concepts, says Lovejoy. Lessons about engineering begin by walking students through the steps of their day – from waking up to taking the bus to school -- so they can see how their activities connect.

"That is what's called a process," says Lovejoy. "Going through a process is what every single person does at their job every single day. Does that mean you're a scientist or mathematician? Not necessarily. But it means that you're employing the same principles that those people employ."

The exercise helps students identify the job skills needed for various STEAM-related careers. "When you start to think about the kinds of skills required to develop the capacity to become an electrician, to fix heating and ventilation and air conditioner equipment, these things are STEAM careers," says Lovejoy. "I think that's the start [of] getting out of this concept of STEAM as this really high-level concept for kids and breaking it down to relatable terms and occupations."

Fuel teacher enthusiasm for STEAM. The linchpin to a successful STEAM program is a committed, enthusiastic educator, says Lovejoy. To this end, the 49ers organization offers professional development to all teachers who participate in the STEAM education program. The half-day training sessions emphasize project-based learning and STEAM integration. All teachers return to their classrooms armed with lesson plans and access to additional resources. Lovejoy says 250 educators participated in the program last year.

"The most important part is the engagement, instruction, motivation and guidance of educators who care," says Lovejoy. "You cannot discount the importance of somebody in that room [who] will not let young people get away with giving mediocre effort -- [who] is not going to allow them to bail on the experience."

Kanoe Namahoe is the editor of SmartBrief on EdTech and SmartBrief on Workforce.

TRIZ Features

Samsung an Innovative Company

 Courtesy of Haydn Shaughnessy, Contributor,

“I write about enterprise innovation”

Tech 3/07/2013 @ 6:32AM |50,392 views Forbes Magazine

What Makes Samsung Such an Innovative Company?

The Samsung headquarters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Samsung.003

There are critics of Samsung who argue that its success is mostly due to copying and then tweaking the innovations of others. There is a good deal of truth in this, especially around the early Galaxy designs.

But Samsung is a global leader in screen technology, TVs, batteries, and chip design. So in terms of innovation it is doing a lot right. But we know very little about how.

We know how its competitors innovate – we look at Google and see the 20% time, the big adjacencies, the search for disruption, the bold statements about the future of autos, for example.

Samsung Engineers Perfect Marketing Storm For Galaxy S4 Ahead of 14th March Solving Apple's Innovation Problem Samsung.002 

We know that within Apple when a project gets to a critical stage, the company assigns three teams to its development, each of which competes against the other. We know the importance of design thinking, an attribute Google is learning about. And of customer experience.

What does Samsung do in comparison? How does it line up against these American masters or conversely are Google and Apple good enouSamsung.004gh to compete against Samsung?

There’s no doubt that patent circumvention is an aim when Samsung innovates. From its early forays into innovation, competing against Toshiba in washing and drying machines, Samsung has chased patents in areas where its competitors appear to have protection and has oriented its innovation efforts to find new patentable ideas in its competitors’ backyard (see, for example, this Samsung presentation).

There’s nothing unusual about that. It is a sideshow. Two developments convinced the company in the late 1990s and early 2000s that they could adopt a systematic approach to innovation and that is what seems to underpin their current success.

The first development provides a broader explanation for Samsung’s innovation capacity. In the late 1990s they were able to tap into a source of cheap scientific expertise in the former Soviet Union.

Samsung has nurtured a close relationship with the Russian Academy of Science since then. There is a framework agreement between the two parties. And the Korean Government has its own agreement under which it funds Korean small businesses to develop projects on the back of Academy research. Samsung meanwhile appears to help the Academy to increase its patent count and to exploit its inventions.

There is an undated copy of the framework agreement between them online and here is an extract:

Academy warrants that Institutes of RAS have the necessary authority to transfer Inventions on separate contracts (“Concrete Agreement”) to Samsung for evaluation, and support Samsung to share part in ownership of Inventions and Patents

One early advantage for Samsung was cheap fundamental science from Russia. But even now Samsung is able to buy Russian expertise at relatively low rates of between $3,000 to $5,000 per month.

Compare that with Google and Apple – in the post-9/11 era access to the world’s best talent has become increasingly difficult because of a reluctance to grant enough visas. Samsung had that problem cracked. But then again didn’t Apple and Google – both are a magnet for talent.

Has the Russian connection shown concrete value for Samsung?

Read more ...