Building on the success of last year’s inaugural program, the TOMODACHI Toshiba Science & Technology Leadership Academy hit the ground running on August 5 for seven days of mind-stretching visits, lectures, hands-on activities and presentations, all geared to help students from the US and Japan answer some big questions about the world tomorrow.
As a high-tech company, Toshiba constantly has its eye on the future. In addition to creating technologies and products that will contribute to that future, it also seeks to inspire people who can help shape it, by promoting science and technology education programs around the world. The ExploraVision program in the US encourages kids in kindergarten through to 12th grade to imagine tomorrow’s solutions for today’s problems. A nationwide program in China inspires science and math teachers to achieve excellence in the classroom. Toshiba Youth Club Asia invites selected high school students from ASEAN to Japan, to consider Asia’s problems and future with Japanese counterparts. And then there is TOMODACHI.
The TOMODACHI Toshiba Academy. TTA as everybody calls it, brings together eight students from the US and nine from Japan, along with teacher advisors. It’s based on mixed groups and sharing experiences, with an emphasis on collaborative team work and cooperation. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural program, TTA this year spread its wings to include a teachers’ program, and also brought back some of last year’s students as teaching assistants, three from the US and two from Japan.
The participants in TTA came together in Fuchu in suburban Tokyo on August 4. The next day, shrugging off jet lag, students, teaching assistants, teachers and program organizers from the US met their Japanese counterparts to break the ice and hear about the week to come. And quite a week it was.
The core of TTA is STEM education—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—and thinking about how to apply STEM to real problems. TTA does this in two ways: presenting the students with an engineering problem; and requiring them to make a presentation on how to improve a city facing real-world problems.