Process - Realistic context
Whenever designing STEAM-CT projects, the main entry-point should be realistic for the students (Glancy, et al., 2013). Whether we start with a historical fact or with something that happened yesterday in the playground, the connection that the students establish with the project will dramatically affect their perception and involvement in the task (Dejonckheere, et all., 2016).
A real-worldistic context has the purpose of engaging students to deal with a challenge by integrating and applying content from science, technology, … in a concrete situation. Consequently, a context is actually more than an attractive entry-point, it provides a meaningful setting for a STEAM-CT process to evolve. A realistic context could be ‘flying to the moon’ or ‘designing a house for a dinosaur’, but it cal also be about climate change or about creating lightgraffiti art. It helps students to make connections between insights, thoughts, concepts, … and to link insights, thoughts, concepts, … with realityrealitic situations. (Dejonckheere, et all., 2016) This is important as students often see STEAM content as separate ‘facts’, without any relevance for society and daily life (Van Houte, et al., 2013) .
On the contrary, STEAM and computational thinking (CT) are everywhere around us. They are part of students’ daily life. In other words, contexts for STEAM-CT projects can be selected and designed based on a inquisitive attitude towards the world. Partnerships between school and professionals, such as mathematicians in work places, private companies, … but also (grand)parents, neighbours, … (see e.g. Ertas, Sen, & Parmaksiz, 2011; Dijkstra & Goedhart, 2011) can be useful.
When creating a motivational context, gender issues and developmental maturity of the students should also be taken into account in order to arise their curiosity and engagement (Gömleksiz, 2012).