The Pioneer of STEM Education
Founded in 2004, The Genius Workshop is a pioneer of STEM education in Hong Kong. They opened their first campus in Hong Kong 14 years ago to promote STEM education. “STEM education is recently one of the hottest topics in the education field. It seems to parents that this is something new, but it’s actually not. STEM has always been included in the school curriculum. For instance, under the old academic structure, Design and Technology or Science are some of the subjects that are related to STEM. What educators and parents have been discussing is the concept behind STEM education and how it can cultivate children’s logical thinking and problem solving skills. These are the essential skills children need to have.” says Horatio Wuo, Founder of The Genius Workshop.
Horatio was first introduced to STEM education in 2003 by a German friend who is a science teacher. He was living in Canada at the time, and became deeply interested in the science program his friend was running locally. “The program was extremely popular with children. The children loved the interactive learning environment in which they learned various scientific concepts. I was really impressed with this teaching style, so I attended the classes myself. I found that every student paid full attention in class, and were not willing to leave the classroom after their classes.” Following the same teaching philosophy, Horatio decided to work with his friend to bring the curriculum to Hong Kong. “The science program has evolved into the STEM courses at The Genius Workshop. They are beneficial to children in several ways, not only in terms of academic knowledge, but also in terms of their development in other areas such as creative thinking or self-expression skills.”
The Genius Workshop currently has four branches in Hong Kong, offering STEM courses to children aged 3-14 years old. Taking the curriculum from Canada as reference, The Genius Workshop modified their curriculum based on the teaching approach in Hong Kong. Horatio explains that “The original curriculum from Canada was designed for summer camps in which each lesson was six hours long. This definitely does not work in Hong Kong. Also, in order to introduce children to STEM education at an early age, we added courses for 3-6 year olds which do not exist in the original curriculum.” STEM courses at The Genius Workshop use LEGO to teach students basic engineering concepts. Instructors also use examples from daily life to explain the concepts so that students can have a better understanding. At the end of every year, the team at The Genius Workshop reviews the curriculum and adds new elements to their courses. Horatio believes that they have to continuously review and update the curriculum and teaching materials in order to provide the best learning experience for their students.
In addition to their regular courses, The Genius Workshop also offers holiday programs with different themes. The purpose of these theme-based holiday programs is for students to learn while having fun. Last summer, The Genius Workshop collaborated with Toys"R"Us to run a holiday camp called ‘Toys"R"Us Junior CEO’. Albert Chan, Director of Operations at The Genius Workshop, points out that “the initial idea of running this summer camp with Toys"R"Us is to promote entrepreneurship to our students. STEM education has a lot to do with entrepreneurship and innovation. Through working with Toys"R"Us, which is a familiar brand to children, we aim to keep students engaged in class.” During the summer camp, students needed to build their future Toys"R"Us store by redesigning the mascot and logo as well as planning the store layout of the flagship shop. The Toys"R"Us management team reviewed and judged each student’s project as part of a competition. The projects that made it to the semi-finals of the competition were showcased at Windsor House in Causeway Bay. Albert said the Toys"R"Us management team was very impressed with the creative ideas from their students. They even told him that Toys"R"Us would take students’ ideas into consideration in future store planning.
Talking about the development of STEM education in Hong Kong, Horatio believes that parents are now more open-minded about children’s education compared to when The Genius Workshop was first established in Hong Kong. “The support from parents is always the most important factor to children. In recent years, because the government is promoting STEM education, parents started to know more about STEM. However, most of them still do not understand the importance of it. Parents still believe that core subjects such as Chinese, English and Mathematics are more important than STEM. This is the major challenge that STEM educators are now facing” says Horatio. With STEM education, he also hopes students will develop the habit of self-learning. “In line with the teaching methodology at The Genius Workshop, our teachers will not give instructions at every step in class. Instead, they will guide students to think about and finish the projects themselves. Students can learn most effectively this way.”
For the future development of The Genius Workshop, Horatio intends to launch more theme-based STEM courses for children to learn coding in a fun way. To do this, they will collaborate with different brands such as Toys"R"Us and Apple to include more fun elements in the courses. They hope that they can continue to promote STEM education to children in Hong Kong using different approaches.
Horatio is one of the speakers at the upcoming Sunday Kiss x Whizpa STEM Parent Workshop on Saturday September 29, 2018. Come and hear more about his thoughts on STEM education. Get your tickets for the workshop now here!
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