After speaking with other parents of children who went to school with his son, Oscar Naval discovered that he was not alone in noticing that kids play games with computers but do not understand or appreciate what makes them work. Rather than kids just playing games, why not teach them to change the game's virtual world with programming and control devices. As a result Oscar created a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics) learning program, originally "STEM-Learn", that teaches "Physical Computing". Physical computing means building interactive systems by the use of software and hardware that can sense and respond to the real world (e.g. using Raspberry Pi computer with electronic I/O circuits).
In the 21st century, project-based STEAM education is a requirement; it is a basic skill. Yet, the education system model we follow was designed in the 19th century. STEAM learning is analogous to the basic reading and writing skills of the past centuries.
PAST (the 19th & 20th centuries): “Why learn to write when all we need to know is how to plant crops or apply a trade?” Really, how many of us have grown up making a career as a writer? So why become fluent in reading and writing? Obviously, we all know you must learn to read and write because it is a basic skill that opens up opportunities even though we may never make a career as a professional writer.
PRESENT (the 21st century): Even if you never become a technical professional or even have a technically related career, the process of learning STEAM is now a basic skill that opens up new opportunities. Project-based STEAM learning using gizmos and gadgets helps you learn of the 4 C's (Creativity, Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration), failing and trying again (i.e. program debugging), logical process thinking, and project planning by breaking down ideas into smaller processes.
These basic skills are transferable to the fast, ever-changing job market, including non-technical careers as more and more careers are being automated. It is a requirement for all creative innovators, lean businesses and entrepreneurs of today.
Oscar started his career in the Silicon Valley in California USA working in digital electronics, EDA (Electronic Design Automation), and programmable logic devices (specifically, FPGA's or Field Programmable Gate Arrays). When he came to Australia he worked as a Science Interpreter at World of Energy in Fremantle, working with school groups facilitating science, energy conversion, alternative energy, and global warming classes. His other roles have included Quality, Health & Safety, and Environmental advisement, TAFE lecturing in IT, and as a Training Coordinator and Business Analyst for Westone Services for the Department of Training & Workforce Development (formerly known as the Department of Education & Training).