steamlabs is an education innovation non-profit established in 2010 to ensure people understand and think critically about science and technology, have equitable access to it, and can use it to solve their personal challenges, improve their communities and make the world a better place. Steamlabs mentors kids, teens, teachers and others at makerspaces across Toronto and around the world.
WHO WE ARE
Our world is being transformed at a pace never seen before. New skills are needed to make sense of the world & be resilient in the face of this change.
Without science and technology knowledge, it’s hard for citizens to have conversations about the world and to make informed choices about their careers, their votes and the products they purchase. The bottom line is that if you don’t know how to think critically about the world, you cannot fully participate in our society. People either have the skills to understand science and technology, or they are left behind.
Private schools in Ontario recognize this, and in response have built makerspaces and developed “Technology Integration” departments that weave technology education into every grade. Kids attending these expensive facilities receive a well planned progression of skills from computational thinking, to experience with electronics and digital fabrication to actual coding competency. By building this step by step every year, private school kids emerge with a comfort and competency in technology and are ready to be leaders, innovators and citizens of the future.
Our public school systems are lagging behind and have not yet built in this integrated technology education. That’s where steamlabs comes in.
To support a diverse community of makers that feel empowered to use digital and physical tools to create, fix and invent the world around them.
A world in which humans feel confident using digital and physical tools to achieve their goals and rejoice in their ability to creatively re-imagine technology.
BY THE NUMBERS
Offer Our Programs
We Run Every Year
OUR TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
We have a 4 part recipe that guides the development of every activity, from a 15-minute activity for visitors at the Ontario Science Centre to our 13-week teen innovation program Zero to Startup. We’ve shared this recipe with educators all over the world, from London England, to Olso Norway, to San Francisco California to New York City. Maker Educators going through our training programs have brought this recipe to hundreds of thousands of kids.
The first part sets the tone. Learning is done best in an environment that encourages playful exploration, free from judgement of performing a skill correctly. This part of the recipe happens throughout the process - from introducing 3D printing by playing around in the 3D design environment to make something fun for yourself, to exploring how an LED strip works in different conditions to playing with your arcade game at the end of your build.
The design part is where a could of ideas starts to become something real. We teach Design Thinking, modified as appropriate for the age of the learner, to focus their thoughts on solving some specific challenge. For young kids, this is frequently making their lives better or more interesting. 3D and laser cut artwork, Room cleaning robots, rover race mazes, electronic instruments and more are common projects. As they get older, we expand their thought-radius and by the time they are teenagers they are making inventions to improve their cities such as smart streetlights, compost monitoring “compost pixies”, water quality monitoring sensor networks and more.
In the Make part, participants bring their design to life. By working in groups, participants get to specialize and participate in the way that excites them the most. We encourage a basic understanding in all technology, and then a deep dive into the tech that gives them passion. As they get older, we also teach them to lead in ways that they excel as well. For example, some kids are all about the ideas, others love to tinker and figure out how to execute ideas, some love talking to all the team members and getting everyone working together.
The Celebration step is about enjoying what you have made and how you made it. We reinforce that the process is more important than the product by finding ways to show off the failures and iterations they have gone through. Celebration is also about having a genuine purpose to what is being created. By making things that are actually important to the participants, the skills they have learned are deeply absorbed.
steamlabs is hiring!
Want to learn more about what we do? Get in touch!