The Board of Directors of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has approved plans for the construction of a STEAM Academy in Gooik, a municipality in the province of Flemish Brabant.
STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
“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,” said VUB Vicerector Innovation & Industry Relations Hugo Thienpont.
“The Academy will be a place where everyone can develop 21st-century skills with the Sustainable Development Goals in mind. Entrepreneurship will be stimulated and interdisciplinarity will be central.”
VUB hopes to complete the new academy by 2023, and believes it will foster collaboration between the municipalities of Gooik, Pajottenland and Zennevallei, and with Flemish Brabant.
The plans include a library, art academy and music, word and dance academy, plus an auditorium for 150 people.
Rendering of the future STEAM Academy from VUB.
In addition to primary and secondary school students, the Academy also hopes to attract young people, teachers and local residents, as well as entrepreneurs from within the region.
“This project clearly won’t be your ordinary classroom,” said Thienpont.
“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.”
The first steps towards constructing the STEAM Academy are already in progress: an outdoor lab called the Groeituin 5.0, where children can be involved in science and technology during weekly meetings, was launched in the gardens of the VUB Photonics Campus.
“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,” said Thienpont.