Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Why Full Tilt STEM?

Welcome to our new blog! We are Alana Guinane, David Hann, Jennifer Mohamed, and the classes of 81 and 84 at Donview Middle Health & Wellness Academy.

This is it, we're diving in, ready to go Full Tilt at this major Transdisciplinary STEM project. As David referenced in a blog post last year (when he tried this project for its first iteration) we've crossed our own Rubicon, there is no turning back!

So we're going to go with the phrase "Full Tilt STEM" as our brand for this year's Pinball Project, and here's why we really like it!

  • It makes a connection to pinball machines obviously, in the tilt reference. Perhaps some of the younger generations won't get the reference (which means we need to have a decent logo or image that will reinforce the brand meaning). However for older generations, who may have fond memories of spending many days of their youth hanging out at arcades, this will be more obvious.

  • It tells the audience that it is some kind of STEM project, and unless you've been living in a bubble for the last few years, you know that STEM (science technology engineering & math) is one of the latest big edu-buzz words. To be honest we've been more or less doing STEM & IBL in our DT (Design & Technology) classrooms for nearly 2 decades, but now this phrase has caught on and so it is only logical that this acronym is part of our brand in some way.

  • It is often said that Maker Education (#MakerEd) is messy; in fact learning in general is messy. You get a bit of a sense of this pandemonium in the phrase Full Tilt, even a partial loss of control. Learning involves calculated risk taking - something we want to model both as learners, and as innovative educators. As an obvious example, when running at full tilt if you stumble or mis-step and bump into something it hurts! You also get a sense of the randomness and chaos of a pinball game, and the notion that we're going for it - "Go Big or Go Home". Randomness can also reference our math curriculum - theoretical vs. experimental probability.

Credit for the brand idea for this project needs to go to Brendan Snow, David's teacher candidate, who just arrived last week and who suggested the phrase during our marathon evening meeting.

A google search reveals that the phrase Full Tilt is not new. It is a line of ski boots, but more significantly, was a feature computer game in a number of Windows OS's. Even though the name of the full computer game wasn't commonly known, one of the tables from the game was. The Space Cadet pinball table has been played by millions, if not billions of people through Windows XP.

Here's an article about programming, and why Space Cadet Pinball (also called Full Tilt) didn't live beyond Windows XP.

Wikipedia has a summary of the game, including how to play. This might be useful to read as students begin brainstorming their own game rules and table layout.

So. With all that being said: Here we go then!

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