Innovative Technology Education at ACS
ENHANCING & EXPANDING TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION TO INSPIRE THE NEXT GENERATION OF INNOVATORS
Expanding opportunities to ensure students build the necessary skills to be competitive in a digital world is a priority at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi (ACS). With the generous support from our community and corporate partners, ACS has been able to invest more deeply in STEM education than ever before. Our school has expanded technology education with innovative curriculum, enhanced learning spaces, and technology resources for ACS students as young as 5 years old.
In 2020, despite the pandemic ACS continued to push forward providing greater opportunities for student engagement and achievement, especially in the area of technology and innovation with two innovative STEM initiatives:
• Re-imagined Technology for Middle School Students Grades 6-8
• Built a NEW! Elementary Innovation Lab for Grades K-5
Philanthropy ensures ACS emerges stronger post COVID and that our students continue to thrive. The following report details each technology initiative supported by 2019-20 contributions and the impact of these expanded programs and opportunities for our students.
RE-IMAGINING TECHNOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL
The ACS Technology Team, led by our new Middle School Technology teacher, Brad Flickinger, had the idea to re-imagine the tech program to motivate students to be active creators giving them voice and choice. With the support of charitable contributions from corporations and our community, the basement underneath the stage was transformed into the Backstage Techttoo Studios, an inspiring space where students innovate, create and try out new things.
The ACS Backstage Techttoos Program was launched in 2019-20 and incorporated into the Middle School curriculum as an elective course called “Exploring Technology” for nearly 300 students ages 11-14. Today, more than 50% of students have elected to take Exploring Technology.
IMPACT ON STUDENTS
Both rigorous and effective, the program is aligned to the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) standards and designed to show students how to become creators using technology. Students’ mastery of digital tools provides them with greater knowledge across other academic disciplines. The new program has elevated technology education at ACS by providing an interactive model that encourages self-selected, student-driven learning.
The program’s positive impact is evidenced by greater student engagement and achievement. For each new digital skill they have mastered students earn “techttoos,” stickers. They have completed so many projects that additional curriculum needed to be written in order to keep up with their pace and interest.
In January 2021, ACS won the Future-Thinking Innovators Award. Our school’s commitment to excellence in technology and innovation was recognized by the 2021 International School Awards hosted by ISC Research. The International School Awards celebrate learning, teaching, community, wellbeing, leadership and other strategic initiatives at leading international schools.
We are extremely proud of our creative educators who developed a cutting-edge technology curriculum, which enables our students to be the next generation of tech innovators and creators. We are deeply grateful to our corporate innovation partners whose generous support played an important role in helping our school in achieving this award.
ELEMENTARY INNOVATION LAB FOR GRADES K-5
Given the success, the Backstage Techttoos Program has been modeled for over 500 elementary students, Grades K-5. Our New Elementary Innovation Lab opened this year with 24 new ipads, a TV studio, a podcasting studio, an animation lab, and an innovative program called MyTechBadges, developed by Brad Flickinger. Dash, the robot, greets our young students as they adventure into robotics. The new MyTechBadges program encourages students to explore new ways of learning through technology.
The vision to re-imagine a section of our traditional library space into an innovation lab became a reality in Fall 2020. The newly created Innovation Lab has greatly expanded technology education for Grades K-5. And the newly developed curriculum perfectly aligns with our recently expanded middle school and high school technology education programs.
IMPACT ON STUDENTS
Our New Innovation Lab is sparking student imagination as they explore new ways of learning and communicating through technology. Elementary students are exploring coding, engineering, robotics, TV production, animation, digital drawing, electronics, podcasting, and much more. We are confident elementary students will flourish in all academic areas as they approach problem solving and creativity with a newly discovered lens of the world.
The first phase of the New Elementary Innovation Lab for Grades K-5 was generously supported by contributions from our Innovation Partners including Citibank, ExxonMobil, Lockheed Martin, Colliers Project Leaders, Occidental Petroleum, Raytheon and Rotana.
Our generous 2020 Gala Corporate Sponsors chose to donate their contributions to ensure 100% of their support was put toward ACS continuing to deliver exceptional STEM programs especially during these challenging times. We thank them for their continued support.
WHAT’S NEXT? Expanding Technology Education in 2021 & Beyond
At the American Community School of Abu Dhabi (ACS), INNOVATION is at the heart of our mission to empower students to shape the future and the foundation of our 5-year strategic plan. We believe it is the key to unleashing the power and potential of the next generation. Our goal in expanding and enhancing technology education for our students is to ensure all students achieve proficiency in:
• complex problem-solving
• analytical thinking
• systems analysis.
The success of the 4th Industrial Revolution and its global workforce depends on schools like ACS delivering innovative and engaging programs.
As we look forward to our move in 2023 to a new campus on Saadiyat, with the help of philanthropy we will continue to enhance and strengthen our innovative technology programs. At ACS, we believe the future belongs to the creators and the innovators and this is the place where they find their passion. These new programs in new spaces are built on voice, choice and action for students to leverage technology as a tool to become active contributors, lifelong advocates, and changemakers.