Connecting More Than Just Straws
I’m not sure if you’re a 80s or 90s kid, but if you were, then you should remember how back in school, our teachers would either be using straws to challenge us to build something with it using scotch-tape, or to teach us certain concepts and ideas. And yes, back then, the kind of straws were quite literally the same drinking straws we used. And for some of us, we even used those same straws at some point for our school science/social studies projects. Personally, I’ve had a lot of fond memories playing around with straws and using them to create some pretty interesting structures and so on.
Now, let’s fast-forward about 20 years into the future! Over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of being exposed to the educational technology industry (to put it in a more easily understandable term, we call it STEAM/STEM Education). STEAM Education also stands for the following subjects:
- S – Science
- T – Technology
- E – Engineering
- A – Arts
- M – Math
All of which I happen to share a really deep passion for.
What is the Goal of STEAM Education?
Before we actually dive into what Strawbees is and what I believe they can ultimately offer, I want to give you a quick overview of the STEAM Education space and this would also help to set the foundation and context for many of the future articles that I’ll be writing for TOYTAG.
STEAM Education aims to provide equal opportunities to people, young, old, professional, non-professionals, to have a chance at being exposed to different skills within the different fields that was mentioned above. As the rest of the world progresses rapidly towards what we call, the Industrial 4.0, the required skillsets for our next-generation of talents have to be different from the ones that we’re already familiar with today. Important skillsets includes problem-solving, critical thinking, learning from failures, communication skills, and risk taking, are now considered some of the most in-demand soft skills for our children in 10...20 years’ time when comes time for them to step into the respective industries.
Rather than giving you the atypical STEAM Education sales pitch, I’m going to focus on what truly matters & also the reason why you should be paying attention to it.
Real Skills for the Real World
Speaking as a former practitioner, I am also a strong advocate when it comes to the concept of continuous learning. I’m a very hands-on person by nature, which means that I tend to focus a lot more on creating something with the skills that I have learned rather than just focusing on the theory side of things. The greatest inventor of our century, Albert Einstein said that “playing is the greatest form of research [learning]”. As children, many of us are already picking up various skills that we would later apply it into our daily lives that will help us to either solve problems, or think imaginatively, leading to the invention/innovation of new ideas to make the world a better place for others.
Beyond the soft skills, we also want our children to be equipped with some of the more important technical skills which can also be applied and used to help solve many of our real-world problems today (and in the near future). With STEAM Education & the brand/products involved, these children/youths will now have the means to transform their ideas into potentially real-world models. And these skills will also follow them into their work life when the time comes.
Strawbees: “Dream Big. Build Bigger”
That’s just something that I read on the cover of the “Crazy Scientist Kit” by the brand Strawbees. One of the things that I love about Strawbees is the fact that the team behind the brand has found a way to turn these simple straws into a product that allows anyone to start connecting the individual construction pipes (that’s the term that we will be using throughout the rest of this article as well as future articles) and create some pretty amazing structures and objects. What is even more amazing is this – with the additional programmable components like the Quirkbots, LEDs, SERVOs, learners will be able to give life to their Strawbees projects. Now, you can even build a moving car out of construction pipes & rotational servo motors. In one of the ideas that I am working on with a private coaching student of mine, we even have the idea of building a drone using nothing but what is available with the Strawbees kits as well as adding a few extra motors/fans.
Now, to be totally fair, we have absolutely no idea if this drone idea of ours is ever going to take flight like how we imagined it. But one of the most important aspects of STEAM Education is helping the learners to understand that they don’t have to get it right the first time. And sometimes, it is okay to fail. Many of the greatest ideas and inventions in real life have experienced multiple failures/learning cycles before they even get to the final production stages.
Currently, I am also actively using Strawbees as one of the brands when it comes to providing my own personalized private STEAM Coaching. For example, during one of my coaching sessions, I would construct a collapsible cube using the construction pipes to explain what skewing an object means. And it was also part of the effort to help explain a mathematical concept to the child.
One of the Most Value-adding STEAM Education Brands
In closing, I believe without a doubt that Strawbees is one of the most value-adding brands in the industry. If you were to make a comparison in terms of pricing, I have to admit that they are probably one of the most affordable brands/products. But just because they are low on the “price tags index”, it doesn’t mean that they are any less good. In fact, some of the parents I have spoken to that have also invested in Strawbees for their own children have felt that Strawbees is a brand that provides nothing by a value-added learning experience, because they finally understand now that where Strawbees is concerned, it is always about connecting more than just straws.
In my next article on Strawbees, I plan to dive much deeper into what the products are capable of, especially with the use of the various electronics components from the Coding & Robotics kit. And I’ll also be happy to prepare a series of articles that will share some of my personal tips & ideas of what you can do using the different product components! So make sure you stay tuned!