Wanting a break from last week's IETC conference in Springfield, I decided to walk across the street to the AMC-8 theater to see "Big Hero 6". I thoroughly enjoyed my second viewing of "Big Hero 6" with a big bag of popcorn and a large Coke. If you are a teacher or a student, you will love this movie, not only because it's a captivating story, but also because it features themes currently prominent in learning and education. A box-office hit, here are six themes from this movie that will have teachers and students laughing and cheering from their theater seats.
STEM EDUCATION - 14 year old robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada uses his engineering skills to inventively help his heroic friends overcome an evil adversary. Science, math, and technology are featured problem solving tools for Hiro and his robot friend, Baymax. When times get tough, Hiro encourages his friends to find solutions through creativity and innovation. Credit to Disney for truthfully showing us that "girl power" thrives in a STEM setting. In addition, the PBL (problem-based / project-based learning) examples shine nicely in this film.
MAKER SPACES - College-age brother Tadashi brings Hiro to visit the "Nerd Lab". It is in this inventor's playground that Hiro is introduced to creative possibilities that exceed his love for "bot fighting". It is also here that he meets his robot friend Baymax, Tadashi's invention. The "Nerd Lab" is a high-tech maker space for Tadashi and his friends.
GENIUS HOUR - Hiro wants to become part of the "Nerd Lab" learning environment where students are encouraged to pursue their own interests as they design and develop their inventions. Genius Hour principles including; autonomy, purpose, and mastery in learning are evident throughout this story of ingenuity and resilience. ("Drive" - Daniel Pink)
GROWTH MINDSET - Following a tragedy, Hiro's discover's Tadashi's digital portfolio containing his production notes from the Baymax project. Tadashi's resilience is evident as Baymax, a robot health-care provider, comes to life after 83 failed attempts. Hiro displays his own resilience as he overcomes early challenges to come up with his "microbot" concept for an upcoming invention fair. Tadashi tells Hiro, "When you get stuck, look at the problem from a different angle."
INFORMAL LEARNING - Technology has created greater opportunity for immediacy and relevance in learning. Students like Hiro are able to use informal educational settings, like a garage or home office, to connect with others to advance their learning. Better than 75% of our learning takes place outside of formal educational environments. Authenticity and personalization increase as the learning becomes self-directed in informal settings.
RELATIONSHIPS - Hiro's expertise with technology is evident, but he becomes truly empowered through collaborative learning relationships. Hiro and Baymax show the power of "heart and mind" as they overcome adversity with passion and ingenuity. In the end, it is collaboration and teamwork that win the day for Hiro and his friends.
Like "The Incredibles", "Toy Story", and "Finding Nemo", there are lessons to be learned in this latest Disney animation. "Big Hero 6" is an entertaining look at how technology, innovation, cooperation, and perseverance make for a powerful combination. Whether you're a teacher, or a student, there are things to be learned and admired from this terrifically fun, and heroic "educational" experience.
Creating Maker Spaces in Schools - Edutopia, Mary Beth Hertz
Genius Hour and the 6 Essentials of Personalized Learning - Edutopia, Nichole Carter
Nurturing the Innovator's Mindset in Your Classroom - Edutopia, Glen Tripp