Experiencing the World through Technology at ISB
Over the past year, as travel has been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students at International School Bangkok (ISB) were still able to travel to far-off places to learn about cultures and environments using virtual reality (VR). Opportunities were also available to develop creativity and problem-solving skills using Robotics. Students in all grade levels were able to learn - using state-of-the-art technology - about technology and design, the world we live in, the people in it, and how they relate to it.
Students Go to the Ends of the Earth with VR
In our High School "Theory of Knowledge" (TOK) class, students had the unique opportunity this past year to incorporate VR into the classroom to gain empathy and a deeper understanding of others. As part of their study of the importance of religion to humans, our students learned how to set up and operate VR headsets to visit four religious locations: The Ganges, Mecca, Jerusalem, and a Buddhist temple here in Thailand. Our students gained a sense of reverence for these places all by experiencing the locations virtually.
As an introduction to our Grade 7 unit on Forced Migration, students went through a VR Experience created by the UN, with an 11-year-old Syrian Refugee Girl named Sidra living in a Refugee Camp. Students crafted inquiry-based questions to research using the Database NewsBank, provided by our lSB Library. Students could read real newspaper articles about the Syrian Refugees and why they are in the current situation. When asked to reflect on their learning, one student said, "I was sad about how small the family home was and their dinner," while another said, "I was angry that only the boys got to use the computers." After the experience, we surveyed the students to gauge the usefulness of VR as a tool to teach empathy. Over 80% of students reported feelings related to the girl, the situation, or just new learning.
In our Elementary School, as part of their unit studying water on our planet, students completed "Life in VR," an interactive VR experience created by the BBC where students get to discover the Californian Coast and an underwater world bursting with life. After our High School Tech Council set up and taught students how to use the equipment, students were asked to partner up, take turns going through the experience, and have their partners record their inquiry questions for later discussion. They guided an otter around the sea and looked at different things and systems in the ocean. Afterward, we asked students what they thought about the experience – they loved it, many felt like they were actually there.
Experiential Learning & Creativity in Robotics
Whether it's in the classroom or after school, robotics at ISB gives students a foot in the door of the future. As part of the ISB Steel Panthers club, students get to participate in Vex Robotics competitions where students are given a kit of materials to work from to build a robot that can operate to complete a series of challenges set by Vex. The robot can participate solo in a "skills competition" to show off programming or driver-controlled operations at the competitions. Additionally, the robot will be paired with another robot to form an alliance and compete against other alliances.
Furthermore, one of our courses in our High School, called Design & Robotics, allows students to express their creativity through design; it offers students open-ended learning opportunities in fields like 3D printing, mechanical design, and robotics. It also provides ISB students with meaningful opportunities for experiential learning, group planning, and creative teamwork.
Design requires students to consider questions of aesthetics, function, practicality, production, competitive strategy, and user experience. Students also learn about working with basic blueprints and how products are made with 3D printers and other tools. These enjoyable and immersive experiences in the workshop give students a taste of the engineering world and spark their interest in any number of related activities. As students learn about robotics, engineering, and design, the overarching aim is to prepare them for success in the fast-changing world ahead of them.
Preparing the Next Generation of Students
The future remains unknown, especially in the face of global pandemics and rapid technological advancement. Adaptability, creativity, and problem-solving will be essential skills for the next generation of designers and innovators. Incorporating tools like VR & Robotics into our classrooms, clubs, and curriculum set ISB apart from other international schools. We are committed to preparing our students to be as successful as possible in the next generation of innovation and technology.