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BSB Students at the MIT STEAMFest 2017

June, 2017
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bsb-students-at-mit-2017-3The British School of Beijing (BSB) Shunyi’s students and teachers have just returned from the amazing MIT-Nord Anglia STEAMFest in Boston. Some 25 Nord Anglia schools and around 110 students from across the world took part in the visit to see and contribute to S.T.E.A.M. in action at two of the top universities in the world – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.

Earlier this year, BSB Shunyi’s Year 6 students were invited to apply for one of four positions on the MIT-Nord Anglia STEAMFest from 30 April to 6 May 2017. S.T.E.A.M. incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. The 4 students who have been selected to represent BSB Shunyi were Air Wang, Anny Singh, Konstantin Moll and Talya Cantez, together with Year 6 Teacher Richard Burkhill.

It was a packed schedule from the time the plane touched down in Boston, to take off just short of one week later. The first day launched straight into the Science within MIT itself, after a short tour of its incredible main campus, including the famous Infinite Corridor, Killian Court and Dome. Students were put to the test by current MIT students in the bonding and manipulation of plastics through making their own slim and expandable foam. Lunch included an opportunity to eat at MIT’s main food hall and chat to the experience that real MIT students had on campus and their respective journeys to get there. This was an invaluable learning experience for students as they realized that to attend one of the world’s best universities really was in their grasp.

What followed in the Koch Institute was truly awe-inspiring. BSB students sat down with one of the top cancer professors at MIT to take part in an experiment that showed how chemotherapy could be better delivered to cancer cells. Being able to tour the labs where real cancer research was taking place, by real scientists with unfathomable machines, really gave a new sense and depth to the work we hear so much about but rarely witness.

To then hear a 10-year-old state “I want to work here when I’m older” is exactly the reason to run these trips. Not even at the end of the first day, the students took part in a team building Boda Borg quest that included mental, physical and logic games for them to complete.

MIT is one of the few universities to offer a pirate qualification of which the students were able to sample. They were shown the science of fencing, canons and archery in which all participated to create a working fencing scoring circuit, a vacuum chamber capable of being used within a vacuum cannon and the building of the most effective bow and arrow. This all accumulated in a school team science quiz run by some of MIT’s top science students.

BSB students were also able to work with some of MIT’s professors including the 2.009 Project professor. This involved the teams having to ideate, make, test and recreate contraptions of all types and sizes around the theme of a carnival. The students had to source their own equipment from what was on offer and present to two of Massachusetts experienced CEOs in a business pitch style. This enabled the students to cover so many angles from engineering, technology and business in just one day.

A visit to MIT wouldn’t be complete without visiting its famous hack sites where MIT students have performed some incredible feats such as assembling a police car on top of the Dome to turning an entire building into Tetris. Inspired, Nord Anglia students went on to create circuits of their own, design new boat hydrodynamics, witness a chemical magic show and be part of a Marie Curie performance. At the end of this performance, the students could not ask enough questions about Marie Curie and her husband made possible, from chemistry to the history of radioactivity.

The final day saw students being able to take part in a Q&A session with an actual rocket scientist, nuclear physicists and a bio engineer – hearing invaluable, unique advice and information. Finishing with pattern recognition through art and an inspirational tour round the historical Harvard University; students were in awe of the dorm room where Mark Zukerberg invented Facebook and numerous former US presidents called home. And in true Boston style, BSB students were able to finish the week by joining the British International School of Boston for their traditional American dance.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that will inspire BSB students for years to come. 

 

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