Recent studies have shown that 50 percent of current jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence in the next 10 years. Coding and computer programming are becoming required skills for many occupations across the globe. In fact, computer science is already mandatory in elementary schools in Israel. At the forefront of this trend in the U.S., one Denver-area independent school recently opened a Lower School STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Lab in order to give even its youngest students the skills they will need to be successful in a competitive, highly technological future workforce.
Aspen Academy in Greenwood Village opened its Lower School STEAM Lab for junior kindergarten through 4th grade students this fall. The lab’s mission is to give students the skills and tools they need to leverage technology to expand their creativity and innovation, as well as their problem-solving abilities. Students who visit the STEAM Lab participate in a wide variety of activities using 3-D printers, modern coding equipment, a Lego wall and age-appropriate robotics. For example, kindergartners studying nursery rhymes in language arts class engineer a new contraption that Humpty Dumpty can sit in so he does not crack after falling off the wall.
It is estimated that one million jobs are currently going unfulfilled due to a lack of students going into this field of study.
In addition to engineering design challenges, students at Aspen Academy are taught coding as young as four years old. Third graders are currently coding Dash the Robot across the Colorado map. Through the coding process, Dash the Robot stops at various locations within the state, creating a cross-curricular education that goes beyond the STEAM Lab. Aspen’s STEAM coach, Chris Lazartic, believes that this program enables students to think about computer programming as a career choice. “They learn important aspects of innovation and design as they prototype, test, sometimes fail, and redesign things in the lab. The STEAM Lab is a place where students’ ideas become a reality as they challenge themselves to solve real-world problems.”
Director of Programs Debbie Cordero, is committed to preparing students for an unknown future. “It is our job as educators to prepare our young people by providing the skills to be successful in a digital age. Our new STEAM Lab gives students the chance to interact with computers and coding at an early age.”
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