The learning process in the “WOW it WORKS” program fit very closely to the syllabus published by MOE Singapore . In fact it has all the needed ingredients expected of MOE Singapore , surprising . Surprise because the program was designed without referring to MOE’s website but rather base on what we felt was really important to nurture students for the future .
With the internet , knowledge has not only become relatively cheaper but also readily available . But 2 major problems remain affecting kids .
- Though knowledge is readily available , kids may still have problems understanding them .
- Not all information available on the internet is accurate and true .
So we still need to guide kids
Learning Process | General
The learning process has 3 main blocks , Application of knowledge , Build and Construct and Solving problems
Learning process | Applications
One cannot learn much about Science without basic Mathematics . So basic Mathematics is important to Science as there is a need to gather data , categorization and analysis of data . Having basic knowledge in Maths and Science is good , but more importantly is how to apply and use that knowledge .
So the first building blocks of “wow it works” program learning process is about the Application of that knowledge , not in isolation but in Totality . Totality because there is always inter-relationship between Maths & Science and technology , inter-relation between the various Science topics (say gravity and the other forces at work for example) and when there is a need to construct and build something , it is rarely that only a single knowledge or topic is utilized . That’s why , we labelled the above as “putting it all together” in the Application of knowledge .
Learning process | Build and construct
In the design and build , or build and construct phase , we actually build useful and purposeful models or models that represent the real world . Though we normally encourage kids to come up with their own design and ideas , most of the time they end up to something similar to the real world as this is what they have seen or aware of . But it is important to constantly encourage kids to use their own creativity to come up with something different that they can call their own , no matter how ridiculous or crazy the designs or ideas might be , because the program is about self discovery of about what works and what did not , and why . This is key in the learning process
It is in this Build and construct phase where kids find challenges in the application of the basic knowledge that they have acquired . The build and construct many a times will require the application of not just a single knowledge but multiple , coming and putting them together . Kids will realise some parameters will work better than others , some will not work at all . Some will require optimization due to the conflicting nature of the parameters . It is because of the severe challenges in this phase where kids gain the most , not just the understanding of the basic knowledge but appreciation of that knowledge and the world around them .
It is important especially in this phase where kids are taught to LOOK better , SEE sharper and IMAGINE further as they try to find answers as to why their build models does not work as well as expected . Our ability to SEE and IMAGINE is key in finding solutions to the problems . This is actually Creative thinking and Visual thinking in the learning process
Learning process | Problem Solving
Now that a whole lot of issues has surfaced , by observation and through comparative analysis kids will slowly learn what works and what did not and why . There is a process involve in problem solving .
In this Problem Solving learning process , they will works in teams , so that they are able to discuss about the issues on hand and help one another . Because they are group in teams , they will learn about teamwork . Teamwork has job responsibilities and assignments , contributions of members , learning and sharing of data and information , working together towards a common goal or objectives . In the learning and sharing , kids will learn about the various options , evaluations and trials , data recording and analysis that is key towards problem solving . Kids will also learn about social skills and interactions which is key in the real social world .
At the end of this initial journey , there would be a working model which works , contributed not only from individuals but as a team . A working physical model not only demonstrate the kids ability to apply the basic knowledge but also help to instill self confidence in kids . This ability to physically show others is very important in building self esteem in kids , not just grades , for a physical work that kids can show to others his mastery and ability .
Learning Process | Example
Here is an example of how the wow it works program actually works . Suppose the theme if about Wind Energy and the objective is a to design a simple model windmill (or pinwheel for juniors)
Depending upon the age group ,theory may include
- basic knowledge about how wind is generated
- wind (moving air) applications such as the sail boats , hair dryer , hand dryer , fan , lift for the wings of an airplane , work done and light up homes
- parts of a windmill
Maths involve can be relatively simple , especially juniors where we get them to guess what will be moved by the wind , or distance moved by the various objects such as tissue paper , shoes , a leaf or a styrofoam ball when we turn “ON” the fan . For seniors , Maths can be to determine relationship of the following with work done
- wind speed (velocity)
- number of blades
- wind directions
- angle of attack
- possibility of various designed blades
For design and build , juniors get to build pinwheel . Pinwheel templates with different sizes , different number of blades and different rotation so that junior get a chance to see how each affect work done .
Seniors get to build a model windmill . Parts are provided and seniors will use their creativity base on the earlier knowledge to assemble and build a windmill , in teams . As material provided has been previously tried and tested by the trainers , seniors will have some challenges in putting the parts together . It is in this phase that kids learn the most as they explore ways and means to put their experience and knowledge to good use together as a team . The blades they stick onto the styrofoam ball may fly off as it rotates , or the blades may not turn at all as it is perpendicular to the wind directions , and so forth .
As trainers are familiar with the material supplied and therefore ” a controlled” environment , trainers will prompt and ask kids certain observations and outcome . This questioning and prompting is important in the learning process , so that kids get a chance to express what they see and know through their own observations .
Once the pinwheel or windmill is build , it will be tested . Kids will then use them to carry load with different parameter settings (such as different sizes , different number of blades , different material blade , different blade designs , etc) . At the end kids can then make conclusions about what they have observed .
Below is another example of wow it works learning process broken up into 6 stages with explanation
The wow it works program has everything required for kids . Here is a summary of the benefits it offers
In a nutshell , the Wow it works program has a systematic process , a problem solving methodology and application of skill and knowledge in the design , build and construct of models in the learning process . All this is part of building a foundation that we believe is necessary for kids so that they are equipped to become better leaders of tomorrow