Full STEAM Ahead to the Next Frontier

“Take advantage of the tools that you have, the access to the world that you have at your fingertips through the Internet and through all the things that our brought to our house everyday through technology that makes it effortless to learn and to do things and make a difference in the world,” said Levi Maaia president and CEO of Full Channel Labs in the above video.

These words of advice to broadband operators are given from a unique perspective. In addition to leading his company, the only independent cable and broadband operator in Rhode Island, Maaia is teaching and doing research into learning in a program where he works as a graduate research fellow at UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and with the Anacapa School (grades 7-12) as a digital media teacher and faculty advisor.

This research sprung from his experience in trying to involve the schools that Full Channel serves in the many educational programs that cable and the cable networks offer. Even though these programs did not cost the school anything, they weren’t necessarily embraced because they didn’t fit into the existing testing framework. He also noticed that the “hands-on” classes, that bring some of the other subjects, such as math, to life were no longer available.

To overcome these challenges, he has been working with the Anacapa school to develop a program called STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. By mixing hands on work with academic disciplines, he hopes to make abstract concepts real and motivating kids to learn these very important subjects. In the interview, he cites the Maker Faire as an example of the build it yourself movement that is complementary to what he is doing.

And his work is getting recognized, as the video he produced of the Anacapa Near Space Exploration Club (ANSEC) took first place in an ARRL (the national association for Amateur Radio – ham radio) video contest. As seen in the video, the students designed and launched a balloon that rose to almost 112 kilofeet, while feeding various telemetry data (including video) via amateur radio to the ground crew.

Maaia is hopeful that this approach is the start of something bigger; in a way almost a throw back to the days of hands on tinkering and experimentation, instead of learning by being in front of a screen all the time. Said Maaia, “I hope that, as much people continue to consume, which is good for business, they also continue to create.”