Merrifield launches iCreate

IN AN effort to celebrate and encourage individuality, creativity and innovation, Merrifield Preparatory School have launched iCreate, a pioneering classroom experience.

THINKING OUT OF THE BOX: iCreate (innovation, creativity, research, engineering, arts, technology and entrepreneurship) has been launched at Merrifield this year to equip Prep School students with key 21st Century skills Picture: TRACEY MANGOLD

iCreate, which means innovation, creativity, research, engineering, arts, technology and entrepreneurship, offers all students from grade 1 to 6 the opportunity to explore ‘out of the box’ critical thinking.

“It is exciting to launch into 2018 with such a creative programme within our school. Every person on this planet is creative and uniquely gifted. It’s what drives our passion and makes us ‘come alive’,” said Merrifield teacher and iCreate programme coordinator Diane Bossé.

Over and above the school’s IEB curriculum, pupils spend one lesson a week exploring and creating in a colourful and stimulating classroom environment.

Designed to inspire and encourage optimum creativity, the classroom has moveable blocks for desks and chairs as well as a beautiful chalk mural as a blackboard, painted by local artist, David Edwards.

“All research on what skills our world needs today underlines creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, citizenship, ethical education and communication as top priority skills. So we, as educators, must keep asking ourselves: how effectively are we preparing our school-leavers for the world they are entering?”

Merrifield’s goal is to equip students with these 21st century skills and the iCreate classroom experience does just that, covering skills in robotics, coding, advanced automation, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, practically advanced lego work and brain games.

The weekly lessons are project-based, requiring students to apply their skills and knowledge on various subjects in an effort to solve problems.The lesson calls for collaboration, strategising and thinking out the box.

“Through the medium of advanced academic programmes and learning tools such as iCreate, in addition to the programmes we currently use in our curriculum such as Singapore Maths, iPad apps, Thrass, online Mathletics and Cami, our prep learners are extended in developing critical thinking skills and competencies,” Merrifield College Executive Head, Dr Guy Hartley, said.

Though many schools are starting to incorporate similar 21st century skills based lessons into their curriculum, the iCreate programme is the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape, with Kingswood school working closely with Bosse’ in developing their own programme, ICE.

“It has been an exciting, but challenging process. We’ve received so much positive feedback from the children and the parents so it has been rewarding,” Bosse said.

The school aims to eventually implement it into the high school curriculum.

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