• guest lessons
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  • guest lessons
  • guest lessons
  • guest lessons
  • guest lessons
  • guest lessons
  • guest lessons
Giving the Ability to Learn and Dreams to 1 Million Children

Contributing to the Development of the People Who Will Lead the Future with Tailored Educational Contents to the Community and Students

STEM education is attracting attention in response to the fact that programming education was made compulsory in Japan from 2020. The purpose of STEM education is to develop the ability of children to learn by themselves while they are still young through encounters with robots and IT technologies. However, Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (hereinafter “Murata”) has been providing STEM education in the form of school visit mainly to elementary and junior high school students in Japan and overseas since 2006. We talked with Murata about what kind of effect this initiative has on communities and its employees.

chapter01

Approximately 500,000 Children Have Experienced STEM Education in 15 years – School Visit That Can Be Enjoyed by Children to the Utmost.

STEM education is the general term for the education fields comprised from the first letter of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The purpose of STEM education is to attempt to develop the people who will create new technologies by allowing children to encounter the knowledge in these fields from when they are young. Active efforts for STEM education are already underway in countries around the world. Japan has also finally started to provide STEM education on a full-scale basis in response to the serious shortage of IT personnel and the move to make programming education compulsory. However, it is undeniable that this is a little late compared to other countries around the world.

Under these circumstances, Murata has actively been providing STEM education while adopting a style of school visit at an early stage since 2006. Tetsuya Kuga of the Brand Communication Section in the Corporate Communications Department explained the background to this. “The understanding and recognition of STEM education was not good at that time. We wanted to increase the number of children interested in science by conveying the work and fun of the engineers who support manufacturing in that situation. Under that desire, we started STEM education by making use of the technological development story of MURATA BOY in its content.”

Masayo Miyazaki and Tetsuya Kuga
Masayo Miyazaki and Tetsuya Kuga
Brand Communication Section
Corporate Communications Department
Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

Murata has prepared content in three themes to align with education for its school visit . The leading theme is “Career Education” using MURATA BOY. Many of you will have seen the sight of this bicycle-riding robot equipped with coming to a stop and maintaining his balance. The company introduces the development process to this with content it has continued to provide since it started offering school visit in 2006. The second theme is “Environmental Education” which Murata started offering in 2012. This is an attempt to allow children to experience power consumption using miniature light bulbs, LEDs and motors with a hand-cranked generator to align with the lessons on electricity taken by elementary school fourth to sixth graders. The third theme is “Control the Teacher Robot!!“ devised in 2019 ahead of the introduction of programming lessons. The purpose of this lesson is to master programming thought through problem solving.

Masayo Miyazaki, also of the Brand Communication Section in the Corporate Communications Department, had the following to say: “These school visits are for the upper grades of elementary and junior high school students. We go to schools to provide them as a part of lessons and we also give them at events held in learning facilities such as science centers. Currently, 24 offices in Japan provide about 100 school visits a year. These lessons have been participated in by 110,000 children. Including events, 480,000 children have so far participated.” She continued: “The instructors all come from employees of Murata and all of them participate as volunteers.”

“We seek employees who want to serve as an instructor regardless of their department or age. They have various fields of specialty, such as engineering, development and sales, and ages. Accordingly, the personalities of the instructors are also a feature of the school visit.” (Kuga)

Another feature is that we consider how to utilize the content to suit the requirements of the schools in the regions of our offices. This creates uniqueness in each region.

School Visit in Three Themes

Career EducationMURATA BOY is a bicycle-riding robot created in 2005. The feature of this robot is coming to a stop and maintaining his balance. This introduces the electronics components, sensor technologies and development processes in the background to this technology to encourage interest in manufacturing.
Career Education
Environmental EducationMurata started providing this education in 2012 as content to consider the interrelationship between electrical energy and the environment. It provides the experience of using a hand-cranked generator to store electricity in a capacitor and to see the difference in power consumption by connecting it to different loads to align with the content of lessons on electricity for elementary school fourth to sixth graders.
Environmental Education
Programming LessonsThe company started “Control the Teacher Robot!!“ in 2019 to support programming lessons in school. The main purpose of this is to acquire the ability to cultivate logical thinking. The role of the robot is played by a human with movement instructions given on a tablet so it is a lesson that feels familiar.
Programming Lessons
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Continuing to Be Moved by the Sparkle and Curiosity in the Eyes of Children

What is this regional uniqueness? When we asked that to the people in charge at Toyama Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (hereinafter Toyama Murata) and Izumo Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (hereinafter Izumo Murata) which participate in school visit , they spoke in unison: “We are really glad to have participated in the school visit .” We spoke with these two offices that are providing school visit about what they gain through these lessons to children.

Interview in Toyama

Supporting Toyama – Manufacturing Prefecture – with Career Education for Junior High School Students
Midoriko Mizoguchi and Masahiro Shimizu
Personnel Affairs Section in the Administration Department
Toyama Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
Midoriko Mizoguchi Masahiro Shimizu

Toyama Murata started full-scale school visit in 2016. Masahiro Shimizu of the Personnel Affairs Section in the Administration Department has been involved since the beginning of that. “Education on manufacturing for elementary and junior high school students has been flourishing under the initiative of the government in Toyama Prefecture. We provide the Career Education for junior high school first and second graders in Toyama Prefecture as a part of that. We give information focused on this age group when children are beginning to determine their future goals and career paths.”

On the other hand, Midoriko Mizoguchi, also of the Personnel Affairs Section in the Administration Department, has been involved in these lessons since 2018. She says that she endeavors to communicate with the school teachers. “Currently, we have 15 employees registered as instructors. We ask school teachers about what their students want to hear about now and tailor the content of our lessons to that. The teachers also expend a considerable amount of effort working on this. Therefore, we want to meet their needs as far as possible. We want to give lessons that will remain in the hearts of junior high school students.”

The most moving moment from encountering approximately 1,500 junior high school students is “to bring a sparkle to the eyes and hear students say ‘that’s amazing’ to ourselves and our technologies.” Mizoguchi has been enthusiastically asked “how will MURATA BOY evolve in the future?” from students at the end of her lessons. She talks about the rewarding nature of this: “There are children who are looking forward to our future. That serves an encouragement for me in my work.”

The office is now preparing to provide “Control the Teacher Robot!!“ in its school visit. This will be content mainly for elementary school children. “Unfortunately, we are not currently providing lessons due to COVID-19. However, I am now looking forward to the facial expressions and serious looks of children when we take this content to schools.” (Shimizu)

guest lessons
Voices from Schools
Effect of School Visit : Deepens Learning
This was a good opportunity for students to deepen their learning while coming to know the pleasure and importance of manufacturing through the abundant experience of the instructors. The students seemed very impressed. I heard positive words from them: “Everyone at Murata making the electronics components that run smartphones and robots is cool!” “I have decided to reconsider my future dreams.”
Principal Yoshihiro Minoguchi of Toga Junior High School, Nanto-City, Toyama

Interview in Izumo

Delivering the Best Lessons to Students in Izumo with 15-years of Expertise
Yuki Sato and Koji Iwanari
General Administration Section
Administration Department
Izumo Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
Yuki Sato and Koji Iwanari

Izumo Murata has been participating in this program since the start of Murata head office’s school visit. The feature of Izumo Murata is that lessons are given in close communication with Izumo Science Center.

Koji Iwanari of the General Administration Section in the Administration Department, who has been participating in these lessons since 2007, explained. “We have been gathering all junior high schools in Izumo at the Science Center and providing lessons there since 2007. In the first half, a professor at the Science Center gives an explanation on cutting-edge science and technology. In the second half, the students learn about various parts while we introduce their functions using MURATA BOY.” This lesson is given to about 1,500 children a year. It is on a scale large enough that about two lessons a day are given continuously for two weeks. It is unusual for a regular company to remain so deeply involved for such a long time.

Yuki Sato, also of the General Administration Section in the Administration Department, casually says the following about that: “We have encountered 20,000 students over the 12 years up to 2019. A total of 530 members of staff have participated. In addition, the total number of students who have participated in school visit at elementary schools is 650.” This is equivalent to just over 10% of the number of employees in Izumo Murata. This shows how much it contributes to Izumo city."

Iwanari continues: “This is not something we can do in our spare time. Of course, it is hard work. However, the children cheer with all their might when MURATA BOY doesn’t work well. Such innocence and honesty of children touches me.” It seems there are even people who have gone on to study science at university and then joined Murata as a result of this encounter.

“I am impressed so much that I have been involved and cooperated to realize the dreams of children.” (Sato)

Currently, Izumo Murata is creating new content while cooperating with the professors at the Science Center and the Murata head office. “I would like to continue to provide good lessons with educational sites in the future. I will spare no effort to cooperate with that.” (Iwanari)

guest lessons
Voices from Schools
Learn about Digital without using Digital
When we hear the words computer or program, there is a tendency for words such as electronic and digital to come to mind immediately and to think that programming education must also use digital devices. However, I realized that was not always the case from watching lessons. I also want to enjoy future programming education together with children with lots of ideas instead of being bound by stereotypes.
Principal Mitsuhisa Naito of Jinzai Elementary School, Izumo – City, Shimane.
*The titles are current as of the time when school visit were provided in 2019.
chapter03

Supporting the Learning of Children as a Pioneer in STEM Education

The school visit was initially started as a part of CSR activities. However, Miyazaki says that the biggest change from these visits was in the feelings of the employees.

“The instructors who have participated in the school visit are seen with a respectful look by the children. This effect is tremendous. This also motivates employees in their regular work and swells up a feeling of loyalty to the company. In addition to contributing to the community, the school visit seem to also serve as an opportunity for employees to think about their work. School visit provide many encounters and lots of excitement. We have quite a few employees addicted to this. This means they can’t quit the company!”

It was thought that there would be a need to give these lessons over the Internet due to the spread of COVID-19. However, that expectation was overturned.

Kuga said the following: “How can teachers connect children and society while many annual events are being canceled for elementary and junior high schools? School visit seem to be the best content for them who were racking their brains about that. In fact, we had more requests for school visit last year than we did the year before that.” These school visits are a refreshing change for educational sites struggling with COVID-19 and for children who have lost their good spirits. This has led to these visits being well-received.

The company then opened Mulabo! in the Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Minato MIRAI Innovation Center in Yokohama in December 2020. This is a place where children can encounter the wonders and fun of science at any time.

Mulabo!
Mulabo!

“We will be able to utilize the THINK Zone in Mulabo! as an event space to give lessons when providing school visit in eastern Japan. It is also popular on a regular basis with children as a café and STEM-related library. We would like as many children as possible to encounter science and electricity.” (Kuga)

Approximately 500,000 children have encountered science in the 15 years since the start of Murata’s school visit in 2006. The essence of this is to cultivate the ability to learn and to give children dreams.

“We plan to increase the number of offices that can provide school visit so that even more children can encounter science in the future. We are aiming for a cumulative total of one million children to have received STEM education in five years.” (Miyazaki)

The company is planning to continue preparing content that suits the times in the future as a pioneer in STEM education. There is no doubt that it will continue to bring a sparkle to the eyes of children going forward.

muRata
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This article was published for one month as a special advertising feature of the electronic edition of Nikkei from March 15, 2021.