Featured Partner: Project-Based Technology Education at Future Set Tech Camp
As an experienced educator, I have seen the shortcomings of the traditional approach to teaching through a repetitive cycle of rote memorization and standardized testing: a neglect for conceptual understanding and real-world applications; a failure to inspire; an inefficacy with regard to long-term retention. These failures could be attributed to the fact that rote learning, by definition, is not meaningful: it cannot be transferred to different contexts and used to solve problems, as Richard E. Meyer states in his article titled “Rote versus Meaningful Learning” published on MIT’s website: http://web.mit.edu/jrankin/www/teach_transfer/rote_v_meaning.pdf
Perhaps it is not surprising that a model for education that bears little resemblance to the workplaces we inhabit as adults, where the ability to flexibly apply knowledge is more valuable than the ability to rule out incorrect answers on a multiple-choice exam, fails to adequately prepare students for those workplaces. What skills will students need to be successful in today’s world? The National Education Association has identified four important skills for success in the 21st century: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity (http://www.nea.org/tools/52217.htm). Project-based learning, in which students explore and solve real-world problems, offers both the potential for meaningful learning and the opportunity for students to develop these 21st century skills.
Through an emphasis on project-based learning and field experiences, an education at Lake Travis STEM Academy is full of engaging opportunities for students. Subjects like mathematics and technology are brought to life through projects like the layout and publication of a school yearbook, the construction of a model Formula One car or a tour of a local business. Students are challenged to solve problems rather than memorize facts and their experiences forge vivid cognitive connections.
While technology is integrated into all of the subjects and projects conducted at Lake Travis STEM Academy, some students may be interested in exploring specific topics, such as computer programming or video game development, more deeply. Future Set Tech Camp is, in many ways, a great choice for these students: we apply new skills through project-based learning; we teach conceptual understanding through experiments and challenges; we offer many specialized options for students with particular interests within the domain of technology. At Future Set Tech Camp, students can learn a new programming language, develop a video game, build a website and more. Through an extensive course catalog, students apply similar skills across varied projects to cement their understanding and progress through a series of related courses.
Lake Travis STEM Academy elegantly addresses key shortcomings of the traditional model for education by facilitating meaningful learning through project-based learning. If you find this alternative approach compelling, Future Set Tech Camp might be a great fit for your child as well.
Written by Eric Bennett, Director of Future Set Tech Camp and Teacher at Lake Travis STEM Academy