Basic Information

Our Solution

STEAM STUDIO

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Our solution's stage of development:

Early
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Our solution:

STEAM STUDIO introduces a new approach to high school education that prepares disadvantaged youth to be tomorrow’s innovators, scientists, and engineers. Our learning model blends the mind of a scientist/technologist with that of an artist/designer, enabling students to explore the captivating area where STEM, the Arts, and the future intersect.

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Our pitch:

High School Reimagined. STEAM STUDIO offers students an exciting approach to learning that opens their eyes to the possibilities and prepares them with the knowledge/skills to thrive in tomorrow’s workplace.

Our learning model combines knowledge and practice, and is modeled after 
MIT’s “Mens et Manus” (Mind and Hand) approach to learning. Our college and career curriculum includes Core Courses that unite academic subjects with industry and career pathways; Crash Courses that give students the knowledge/skills needed to explore exciting fields; and Action Learning Labs, where students apply classroom learnings through projects at the forefront of science and technology: deep dives into topics that provoke imagination, ignite passion, and improve their lives and the lives of others – in their communities and across the world:

  • Engineering Lab, a "maker space" where students leverage science and technology to engineer solutions that lead to better lives for young people and society.
  • Computing/New Technologies Lab, where students get immersed in the exciting field of computing – and engage with technologies that will shape their world (e.g. internet of things, data science, virtual reality, AI/machine learning). 
  • Life Sciences Lab, where students tackle projects at the forefront of science (e.g. bioengineering, new media medicine, genetics, digital health). 

Students collaborate across labs on projects that: 

  • Explore the convergence of scientific and artistic creativity
  • Help them grow as creators, entrepreneurs, and critical thinkers
  • Prepare them to excel in higher education and careers in high-growth fields

We’re collaborating with Massachusetts vocational/technical schools and districts (Greater Lawrence/Boston) to create STEAM STUDIOS as academies within their high schools.

Our vision is to create a collaborative network of STEAM STUDIO academies in high schools throughout the world that keeps pace with the rapid changes in our economy and sparks the transformation of high school learning in low socio-economic communities.


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The problem:

According to the Index of the Massachusetts Innovation Economy, 37.6% of MA jobs in 2015 were STEM/innovation-related (science, technology engineering fields). In the future, job-growth in these fields is likely to accelerate – in MA and throughout the world. The innovation economy is, increasingly, the most promising pathway to entering the middle class. Unfortunately, most young people in low socio-economic communities are not adequately exposed to these high-growth fields, and without interest-igniting exposure and skill building, they are locked out from these high growth, high wage jobs. We created STEAM STUDIO to addresses this inequity.

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Why our solution will solve the problem:

STEAM STUDIO adopts the successful learning principles from MIT’s Edgerton Center and Media Lab:

  • Projects: Students learn best when working on engaging projects – generating ideas, designing prototypes, making improvements, and creating solutions.
  • Peers: Learning flourishes as a social activity, with people sharing ideas, collaborating on projects, and building on one another's work.
  • Passion: When focusing on meaningful tasks, people persist in the face of challenges and learn more in the process.
  • Play: Learning involves playful experimentation – trying new things, tinkering with materials, testing boundaries, and iterating again and again.

We apply these impactful principles to prepare youth to flourish in the 21st Century.

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Target Outcomes

Our target outcomes:

  • Open disadvantaged youth’s eyes to a world of possibilities and interests, and help them uncover aspects of intellectual life that excite them.
  • Give them meaningful engagement with the technologies of the innovation economy and jobs of the future.
  • Help them develop critical thinking habits, problem-solving skills, and creative abilities that prepare them to be life-long learners - and have exciting lives and thrilling careers.

We collaborate with low socio-economic school districts to implement STEAM STUDIOS as new academies in their high schools. Our aim: Seed the learning model and grow to be the learning model adopted throughout their high schools.

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How we will measure our progress:

  • Outcome: Expand our first STEAM STUDIO Academy at the Greater Lawrence (MA) Technical School and launch our second academy in the Boston school district.
    Measurement Plan: Greater Lawrence STEAM STUDIO student population grows from planned 80-100 in 9th grade to 400 (grades 9-12). Total school population: 1,473. In 2018, launch a STEAM STUDIO pilot in the Boston school district.
  • Outcome: By 2020, deploy 10 STEAM STUDIO Academies in low socio-economic school districts throughout Massachusetts.
    Measurement Plan: Get support/approval from school district leadership, high school leadership, teachers, and school boards in 10 communities.
  • Outcome: By 2025, deploy 100 STEAM STUDIO Academies in low socio-economic school districts throughout the U.S.
    Measurement Plan: Get support/approval from 100 communities. NOTE: While our initial focus is on low socio-economic school districts in the United States, we aim to help school districts throughout the world implement our STEAM STUDIO model.
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The populations we will benefit initially:

  • Adolescent
  • Secondary
  • Urban
  • Rural
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The regions we will benefit initially:

  • US and Canada
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Technology

The technologies we employ:

  • Biotechnology (genetic engineering, new biomolecules)
  • Consumer-facing software (mobile applications, cloud services)
  • Digital systems (machine learning, control systems, big data)
  • Environmental engineering
  • Mechanical engineering and hardware
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Why our solution is unique:

To enhance students’ learning experiences, we're developing an On-Demand Learning Platform built on Open edX that places the student at the center of his/her educational experience, and provides a place where content, resources, and lectures from staff and outside experts are available 24x7. The platform:

  • Works in both directions. Students can draw from it to learn whenever/wherever they like, or can add to it to build their portfolios, communicate with other students, or contribute to projects.
  • Will include Vinculum, an app for mapping concepts in STEM disciplines and the connections between them (created at MIT - http://vinculum.mit.edu/)
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Why our solution is human-centered:

Our platform will incorporate the LiFT learning system (from schoolhack.io), where students and teachers work together to create dynamic learning plans that evolve and grow, enabling students to understand for themselves why and how what they learn is important to their futures. Students regularly rate their level of engagement with activities both in and out of STEAM STUDIO, to uncover their interests, strengths, and skills. They can choose the topics, careers, and post-secondary pathways most meaningful to them – and pursue pathways aligned with their interests. SAMPLE STUDENT VIEW.

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How people will access our solution:

We work collaboratively with school district and high school leadership teams to create STEAM STUDIO implementation plans with active teacher and teachers’ union involvement. High schools will devote a portion of their school space and teaching team to the STEAM STUDIO academy.

Before the start of each school year, students who attend the high school can choose to enroll in the STEAM STUDIO academy at no additional cost. If more students want to enroll than there are seats, the school holds a lottery to determine which students get enrolled. The school can also choose to increase academy enrollment.

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Technology-Readiness Level:

4-5 (Prototyping)
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http://www.steamstudio.org/

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Business Plan

Our organization:

Non-Profit
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How we will sustain our team financially:

Team members are experienced in K12, higher education, industry, and the Arts. We're raising funds from foundations, corporations and industry groups to:

  • Provide start-up funds to districts launching STEAM STUDIO academies in their high schools to help:
    • Cover physical space modification costs
    • Provide teacher training/stipends for summer work to prepare for initial opening
    • Outfit the action learning labs with equipment/furniture
    • Provide students with computers/broadband access
  • Create Action Learning Lab projects and teacher guides based on projects at MIT Labs (e.g. Media Lab, Edgerton Center, D-Lab, Product Design Lab, Little Devices Lab, Center for Integrative Synthetic Biology) - and MIT student teams (e.g. Solar Vehicle, Aerial Vehicle, Robotics).
  • Develop crash courses at the forefront of Engineering, Computing/New Technologies, and Life Sciences.
  • Implement/advance our On-Demand Learning Platform based on Open edX.
  • Hire a staff who can work full-time to accelerate STEAM STUDIO adoption in low socio-economic school districts.


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The factors limiting our success:

For the past two years, our 10-person team has operated as a volunteer team focused on creating/curating our curriculum, crash courses, and action learning lab projects – and getting approval for our initial two STEAM STUDIO academies in Greater Lawrence and Boston, Massachusetts. 

To scale beyond these implementations and accelerate STEAM STUDIO adoption, we will need funding to hire a dedicated staff (to augment our volunteer team), and to provide funding to support the activities identified in the prior section.

We recently received 501(c)(3) non-profit status from the IRS to enable us to attract the necessary funding to advance forward.

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How long we have been working on our solution:

2 years
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How long it will take to develop a pilot:

We have already developed a pilot.
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How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:

12-18 months
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Our expected annual budget:

$1856000

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How much of our budget we've secured to date:

$6000

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https://www.steamstudio.org/foundation-contact

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http://www.steamstudio.org/

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Partnership Needs

We're looking for partners in these fields:

  • Human+Machine
  • Future of Work
  • Arts Education
  • Secondary Education
  • STEM Education
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Why we're applying to Solve:

We'd like the Solve community’s help to:

Create engaging online bite-size/crash courses at the forefront of science, technology, and the Arts – so students have easy access to the latest concepts/trends.

Better integrate the Arts in our action learning labs and courses.

Create a Global STEAM STUDIO-Future of Work Community, where teachers and students have frequent interactions (in person/via Skype) with employees and leadership at companies aligned with our Engineering, Computing/New Technologies, and Life Sciences focus. With Solve’s help, we can create a scalable model, where teachers and students stay abreast with, and link projects to advances in the future of work.

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Our current partners:

MIT Edgerton Center for Experiential Learning and MIT Lemelson Program for Invention. Pending funding, they’ll:

  • Provided teacher training that incorporates MIT’s experiential learning and teaching methodologies 

  • Provide coaching/mentoring to teaching teams 

  • Develop program assessment metrics and models
  • Create crash courses at the forefront of STEM fields

https://edgerton.mit.edu/ 

https://lemelson.mit.edu/

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Solution Team

  • David Birnbach Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management
 
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