Why Splat?

31 October 2019

Have you ever had a STEM lesson where you felt exhausted just making sure all the right elements were in place for students to learn? Only to discover, A. the ipads had not be fully charged, B. the technology room had been double booked, or C. the latest updates had not installed?  Yep! I have. If you’re like me and many other teachers, you then try and seamlessly reinvent your lesson without students noticing, to remain in control and get some great learning happening before their focus evaporates.

I have lived this moment so many times and whilst a huge fan of technology, I’m a bigger fan of focusing on powerful learning experiences. This got me thinking. I questioned what is really necessary for great learning. What are the most fundamental skills for success in across STEM fields. Are we really going to limit kids learning every time we can’t access digital technology? As an educator and parent I needed answers. I had no idea at the time I would become immersed in my own design thinking process. And guess what, I had to visually communicate my ideas!

The result of that process was the development of an innovative, low tech, low cost, 100% recyclable plastic tool called a Splat. Essentially, it’s a mashup of drawing tools & geometric elements fused together to help improve students design and visual spatial skills. It works by helping students to think/conceive and draw in 3D, which I will talk more about in future blog posts.

Why design and visual spatial skills? Because the research clearly points towards these two fundamental skill sets being critical for success in STEM across all fields. Firstly, design skills require creative thinking and complex problem solving skills, and is recognised as one of the hardest skill sets to automate. Secondly, visual spatial ability is often cited as the number one predictor of long term success in STEM across all fields. Thirdly, as teachers we are already required to teach design thinking, so for us as classroom teachers it was the perfect fit.

By representing the output of our thoughts in 3D on paper – or any 2D surface – we are encouraging the development of both skills sets. Having a low tech option not only makes developing this skill set more accessible for kids everywhere it also highlights an important conversation we need to have in education. Sometimes less really is more! 

  • Have you ever had a STEM lesson where you felt exhausted just making sure all the right elements were in place for students to learn? Only to discover, A. the ipads had not be fully charged, B. the technology room had been double booked, or C. the latest updates had not installed?  Yep! I have. If you’re like me and many other teachers, you then try and seamlessly reinvent your lesson without students noticing, to remain in control and get some great learning happening before their focus evaporates.

    I have lived this moment so many times and whilst a huge fan of technology, I’m a bigger fan of focusing on powerful learning experiences. This got me thinking. I questioned what is really necessary for great learning. What are the most fundamental skills for success in across STEM fields. Are we really going to limit kids learning every time we can’t access digital technology? As an educator and parent I needed answers. I had no idea at the time I would become immersed in my own design thinking process. And guess what, I had to visually communicate my ideas!

    The result of that process was the development of an innovative, low tech, low cost, 100% recyclable plastic tool called a Splat. Essentially, it’s a mashup of drawing tools & geometric elements fused together to help improve students design and visual spatial skills. It works by helping students to think/conceive and draw in 3D, which I will talk more about in future blog posts.

    Why design and visual spatial skills? Because the research clearly points towards these two fundamental skill sets being critical for success in STEM across all fields. Firstly, design skills require creative thinking and complex problem solving skills, and is recognised as one of the hardest skill sets to automate. Secondly, visual spatial ability is often cited as the number one predictor of long term success in STEM across all fields. Thirdly, as teachers we are already required to teach design thinking, so for us as classroom teachers it was the perfect fit.

    By representing the output of our thoughts in 3D on paper – or any 2D surface – we are encouraging the development of both skills sets. Having a low tech option not only makes developing this skill set more accessible for kids everywhere it also highlights an important conversation we need to have in education. Sometimes less really is more! 

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