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You say STEM, I say STEAM… but what’s all the hype about?

MOTAT is hosting an upcoming STEM Science fair on Sunday 7 April where a fresh line-up of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians will converge on MOTAT to wow visitors of all ages with inventions, gadgets and techno gizmos. But why is it called STEM and not STEAM? The museum’s general manager of museum experience Steven Fox explains why, as well as how the museum has evolved into an interactive and tactile experience for children.

Whichever term you choose, if you have school aged children, you’ll almost certainly recognise what it means.  

STEM or STEAM refers to the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics… the optional ‘A’ refers to The Arts for those of us who value a little design aesthetic and emotional power dusted across our daily lives.

As a teaching philosophy, it represents a renewed focus on using these building block subjects to develop students’ problem solving, collaboration and communication skills. It is a direct and considered response to better prepare our children for a world that will becomes increasingly automated and tech-driven.

But luckily the lessons of curricula past have been learnt and these traditional building block subjects are now taught with a new vigour and emphasis on interactive learning opportunities.

Students are empowered to engage with these subjects through hands-on learning experiences. Theories and rules become tangible achievements; their minds are opened, and their imaginations are ignited. 

Schools are embracing these practical learning opportunities for their wide spread effectiveness. In response, museums are meeting this demand by presenting their collections in more immersive, interactive and compelling ways.

MOTAT is a museum which has always worked hard to meet the visitors need to ‘touch’ and experience exhibitions.

As one of our national museums and the only one focused specifically on our nation’s technological and innovation heritage, MOTAT appears to be establishing quite the reputation as an experiential epicentre for our young future innovators.

“We know that our visitors expect more than just an array of interesting historic collection items when they come to MOTAT,” says the museum’s general manager of museum experience, Steven Fox.

“They have told us they want more from their museum experience and so MOTAT has evolved into an interactive and tactile focused space because of this.

"The buzz for us is to see families and school groups diving deeper into the STEM disciplines behind our exhibitions. You can hear the excitement build to the point when that ‘lightbulb’ moment sparks and they discover something for the first time.”  

So, in the interest of learning through doing, it seems there’s no better time to test out this new MOTAT reputation than at their upcoming “STEM Science fair” where, according to their website, “a fresh line-up of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians will converge on MOTAT to wow visitors of all ages with inventions, gadgets and techno gizmos…”

Perhaps it’s that extra dose of “The Arts” that elevates a gadget to a gizmo…?

It certainly appears this hands-on, ‘give it a go’ focus at MOTAT is playing a key role in the success of their exhibitions and events of late.

A visit to MOTAT is no longer just a chance to sit on a vintage tram and marvel at aircraft from days gone by. There is a world of possibilities to ponder and MOTAT’s STEM Science Fair sounds like a great chance to get hands on doing just that!

WHAT:                      MOTAT’s STEM Science Fair

WHEN:                      Sunday 7 April, 10am – 4.00pm (MOTAT closes at 5.00pm)

WHERE:  M1, MOTAT – 805 Great North Rd, Western Springs

TICKETS:                   Normal MOTAT admission prices apply with all activities included within this price.

2019 STEM Science Fair will feature guests: Kai’s Clan, Nanogirl Labs, Curiat Ltd, NZ Police Forensic Unit, ESR, Urban EcoLiving Charitable Trust, ARUP Engineering, ICE Auckland, University of Auckland’s Cryptology Team and Early Learning Lab (ELLA), AUT presents Robotics, Rocket Building, 3D human scanning, Virtual Reality labs and cyber forensics team,The Mind Lab@MOTAT, ActiGaze, Holwell Lab, DEVORA geoscience experts and many more!

For more information visit: https://www.motat.org.nz/experience/events/stem-science-fair/

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