"The STEAM Academy in Oetingen, Gooik wants to offer a platform and learning environment for all young people, for creatives, and for everyone in the region", says VUB Vicerector Innovation & Industry Relations Hugo Thienpont. As Director of B-PHOT Brussels Photonics, Thienpont found the perfect location close to the VUB Photonics Campus. After the approval of the Board of Directors from VUB, the municipality of Gooik will now approve the plans to be executed by 2023.
"VUB wants to give STEAM the attention it deserves, but also hopes to add a concrete and tangible interpretation. Gooik is the perfect central location to do exactly that. The Academy will be a place where everyone can develop 21st-century skills with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind. Entrepreneurship will be stimulated and interdisciplinarity will be central. VUB offers a broad range of scientific disciplines, thanks to the contribution of researchers and research groups from all VUB faculties. B-PHOT will coordinate the project."
Placemaking & Value for the region
The STEAM Academy will provide a unique opportunity to collaborate with the municipality of Gooik, Pajottenland, Zennevallei and with the smart region Flemish Brabant. This will improve the public space for a better community. The library, art academy and the music, word and dance academy will be relocated in the building as well. This combination will develop a lot of interesting synergies.
Next to primary and secondary school students, the Academy also aims to attract youngsters, teachers, and local residents, but also entrepreneurs from within the region. VUB students and researchers will get the chance to implement their theories. The university will provide polyvalent spaces and an auditorium for 150 people. These spaces will be modular to serve a wide range of activities. Next to a Bio Hacklab, a VUB FabLab will be open for all interested creatives and will host many events and workshops.
"This project clearly won’t be your ordinary classroom. The educational center hosts a broad range of activities like summer camps and science clubs. VUB even provides a testing environment for the digital classroom of the future, where students can experience regular classes with digital equipment", Thienpont adds.
First steps: Groeituin 5.0
The first step towards the STEAM Academy in 2023 however, is already in progress. In the gardens of the VUB Photonics Campus, B-PHOT launched the Groeituin 5.0, an outdoor lab where children can be involved in science, technology and technique during weekly meetings. This collaboration with VUB, Authentical and lots of other regional actors, received the support of VLAIO to provide trajectories for children and youngsters from 6 to 18 years old.
Tine De Pauw