Words by Aaditya Tangri, Co-Founder & CEO of Kalebr Americas and Founder of STEAMathalon
1-What got you into STEAM and STEAMathalon – Background
I founded Kalebr in my first year of university as I noticed an opportunity for knowledge-arbitrage between developed and emerging economies. Being an outsider “peeking in”, I felt well-positioned to “connect the dots”, conceptualising and innovating unbiased and practical solutions for the education industry to support both teachers and learners. This is how my co-founder, Dr Kiran Tangri and I developed STEAMathalon, a competitive play-based innovation league for schools championing innovation frameworks for school curriculums and developing friendly applications for students, teachers and parents alike.
2-What is the role of schools in upskilling youth for the future, i.e. why is STEAM needed?
The key questions educators are asking themselves are: How do we introduce innovation in the curriculum through integrated learning systems? How do we find time and space within the curriculum to promote innovation? How do we engage students and ensure inclusive technology and innovation strategies that excite female students, male students and students of different abilities? How do we introduce future technologies like AI and IoT to students? How do we get entire school communities to rally behind a new way of learning?
While some institutions are still navigating uncharted territory to find a way to include innovation in the curriculum, a select few in the UAE are paving the way for others and working towards future-proofing their children. These leaders are innovative, ready to challenge old notions and transform teaching as well as learning. They aim to equip their students with the knowledge, skills and qualifications required for their future. In doing so, they are also maximising learning opportunities offered by digital technology and flexible learning spaces.
These institutions are creating “tomorrow’s classroom”, championing the development of 21st-century skills among their young learners with the support of Kalebr, an education company whose products promote 21st-century skills, happiness, well-being, sustainability, making, coding and innovation for students of all ages. By having introduced STEAMathalon to their learning programs, these schools are tapping into the equitable access of several high-quality, scalable and engaging learning tools, support, resources and environments for teachers and students.
3-What are the key attributes, skills, personality traits, and knowledge base for a future proof generation?
Learners use Kalebr’s innovation and well-being framework to come up with exciting ideas that contribute towards creating a “future-proof” portfolio. One of the fundamental goals and benefits of STEAMathalon is that students get a chance to be more responsible for themselves as learners in a group setting. Kalebr and STEAMathalon are not merely about coding or technology, but an inspiring combination of creativity and leadership as well, which allows extremely inclusive learning. STEAMathalon focus on science, technology, engineering, art, and math, positive education, making, coding, UN Sustainable Development goals and citizenship within the core curriculum. Empowering and engaging learners with 21st-century workplace skills, the grassroots premise of STEAMathalon is that learners discover, innovate, market and celebrate.
4-Short case study: How did the gulf tournament activation provide the STEAM exercise in all its facets?
The challenge presented to the students is that they must manage the professional sporting career of their GolfBot, leading to an AI golf tournament.
Students used design thinking and bucket loads of creativity to come up with a persona of their GolfBot using sustainable materials. Some of it included the likeness of the Expo2020 center, Harry Putter, Robot Rory McIlroy or AI Tommy Fleetwood. Bringing these personas to life required engineering prowess. Next up, students trained their Artificial Intelligence model using coding and a special neural network provided to the students. Students were also asked to get fans to follow the pages of the GolfBots on Kalebr platform. For this purpose, students had to design their own campaigns to get followers and engage them on a daily basis. Students were then asked to put together videos and presentations in an engaging fashion.
Finally, students made it out to the custom AI golf course to compete with other teams and this required oodles of grit.
Sound familiar? What I just described is not only ticking all facets of STEAM; it is also akin to the journey of a startup during its incubation stage.
We are using the exciting nature of sports and the disruption of AI to future proof students with STEAM concepts and 21st-century skills.
5-Does STEAMathalon cater to different personalities and capabilities of students (IQ levels, creativity, interpersonal, social backgrounds, children of determination…)
One often finds innovation-based activities to largely focus on male students or individuals who are already intrinsically motivated to pursue STEM as their choice of career. From the get-go, we wanted STEAMathalon to an innovative, inclusive, mindful and sustainable platform that mimics a future work-place setting. So, STEAMathalon caters to all the personalities, capabilities and learners from different backgrounds, aspirations and determination as one would find in a classroom, a community, a city or a nation. All our STEAMathalon till date have seen participation from an equal number of boys and girls and have welcomed children of determination on the same platform as the rest of the teams.
STEAMathalon showcases the power of tolerance, the efficiency of teamwork and the impact of innovation in the real world. Students appreciate that the only way to succeed in the future is to be more human and less machine-like. Let’s be honest, as humans, we may not be good at being machines, and we should stop trying to follow the practices from the first industrial revolution in this day and age.
6-What is the next challenge?
The next challenge for the students would have them focus on the maritime industries and use Artificial Intelligence to disrupt the industry.