We need to act today to revolutionise learning in the UK and create the problem-solvers of tomorrow

6 min read
Dec 6, 2023 5:42:27 AM


Picture: Learners create and use mechanical arms to pass a plastic ball to each other.

In the wake of declining PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores and growing concerns about proficiency in mathematics and problem-solving skills among learners, using more innovative ways to spark excitement in core subjects is paramount.


Mathematics - We Need a Spark

While these PISA scores are hugely disappointing yet not surprising (in the UK, average 2022 results were down compared to 2018 in mathematics and reading and about the same as in 2018 in science - oecd.org [Accessed 5th December 23]), we must take this as an opportunity to re-establish maths as a core part of the curriculum by making it enjoyable for all learners. This means developing resources that are easy to use and accessible. Current ways of teaching don’t seem to be sparking excitement or driving results, which means we’re effectively failing in both areas.

This doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, but there is a need to be more innovative in our approaches. We can do this by incorporating maths into a broader spectrum of skills essential for the 21st century when in the classroom, as highlighted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), skills like complex problem-solving, teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity whilst encouraging proactive thinking and independent observation from an early age.

Sarah Walker, Strawbees UK Partnership Manager, commented,  “We can see a clear correlation between mathematical confidence and performance. Therefore, creating a confident learning experience in mathematics is more important than ever. A quality learning experience is directly related to the quality of teaching. And this is the challenge we face.”

The Mathematical Challenge

The challenge in mathematics education isn't just about understanding complex formulas but developing a genuine interest and confidence in the subject. To get learners interested in developing their mathematical skills, we need to show them why they need maths and make them experience the importance of mathematical capabilities in a fun and engaging context, which are at the core of Strawbees' educational philosophy.

“This is why we must focus on more hands-on learning and getting both teachers and learners to truly interact with educational yet fun and engaging material,” explains Erik Boji Torstensson, the creator behind Strawbees.

Erik continues, “It’s difficult to relate numbers, formulas and equations on a page to their importance in professions such as space, robotics, computer game design, animation or coding. The earlier the learner gets that spark of will and excitement to learn mathematics, the earlier this learner understands its purpose."



Let kids create the change our world needs by coding, creative confidence, and hands-on rapid prototyping!


Erik Boji Torstensson, the creator behind Strawbees.

Beyond PISA 2022

The PISA scores remind us of the challenges we face in education, where one subject is flourishing, others may not. It is only through collective efforts and more innovative approaches that we will indeed see changes. Sarah believes that  “how learners build competency in STEM subjects relies on a teacher being not only instructional in the classroom but also a motivator and a coach. Challenging learners to ensure high engagement.”

This statement cuts to the most critical factor here, the importance of not forgetting who this is all for - the next generation, our children and the children of our friends and family, giving the teacher that we rely upon to develop the next generation's skills and abilities (and learners) the tools and resources they need to do this effectively, not just to hit targets from national curricula, but to develop skills that will last a lifetime.

In conclusion, Strawbees and its Edtech group Albert can help here, providing a transformative approach to education that enriches traditional tools. A diverse range of products, combining digital platforms with hands-on interaction, enhances learning by making it more learner-engaging and effective. This approach allows learners to take charge of their education, fostering creativity, resilience, and problem-solving skills while empowering teachers by providing them with hands-on learning experiences to make STEM learning accessible to all.

Strawbees is not just an educational tool; it's a mindset that sparks fun, curiosity, and the desire to learn. Ultimately, learners are not just prepared to excel in tests like PISA but are also equipped with the problem-solving skills necessary for real-world challenges.

If the PISA results tell us anything, it’s that the fostering of creativity, resilience, and the development of problem-solving skills won't come from what we are currently doing; it will require a change in teaching and learning approaches.

Further Quotes by Erik Boji Torstensson, Creator Behind Strawbees
My mission is to cultivate the joy of learning by combining a hands-on approach with digital resources that take learners from idea generation through to the design and build process, creating a playful foundation for creative thinking and learning in the younger generation.  
The goal is to make activities that empower learners to develop the confidence to create, implement, and test their own innovative and unique solutions, without being able to distinguish it from play.  
Working with low-cost, recyclable materials like cardboard and straws in larger-scale structures provides tangible experiences with learning and skill development embedded into this.  


IMG_0651_Sierpinski_Pyramid_Strawbees.comPicture: Third graders create 64 tetrahedrons and assemble them into units to create a massive, lightweight Sierpinski Pyramid. Part of the Geometry and Engineering Design Course on Strawbees Classroom.


Why Strawbees? Creating Thinking Skills Through Hands-On Learning

Strawbees offers a unique hands-on learning experience that transcends traditional educational methods. Strawbees equips learners with the mental scaffolding necessary to grasp complex problem-solving, particularly in mathematics, science and engineering, by focusing on building and experimentation with both code and construction. This approach addresses the critical issue of learners' disengagement and lack of interest in subjects like mathematics, as observed in universities and higher education systems worldwide.

About Strawbees

Strawbees is a Swedish Edtech company that helps teachers inspire the next generation of problem-solvers and inventors using low-cost, recyclable materials like cardboard and straws to encourage a hands-on learner-led experience. Our vision is to "Let kids create the change the world needs", and we do this through our award-winning modular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) Classroom solutions.

Strawbees Classroom (the digital resources hub) is open to all teachers and learners. It has a wealth of resources aligned with the National Curriculum in England, the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, and other curricula worldwide. Learn more: classroom.strawbees.com


Albert Edtech Group

Strawbees is part of Albert Group, a leading provider of education technology solutions in the Nordics (Europe), fitting in well with their high-learner engaging, fun, and playful digital education offering with their hands-on STEM modular building and robotics solution.

Albert The journey began when childhood friends Arta Mandegari and Salman Eskandari while studying at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, devoted their evenings and weekends to providing free math help to children from the suburbs of Gothenburg. After graduating, they pursued different careers in management and economics. In 2015, they decided to pick up where they left off at Chalmers. They quit their jobs and dedicated themselves to creating what would become Albert.

Albert was started with a clear goal - to democratise knowledge through technology, a mission that still drives them today. Currently, over 500,000 families have chosen to explore a new and fun way of learning with Albert, a trust they are very proud of.

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At Sumdog, we want to help every child enjoy mathematics and spelling. Our online learning service is used by millions of children worldwide. It adapts to each individual, using engaging game-based learning to motivate and build confidence. Sumdog provides engaging learning and practice in numeracy for children aged 5-14, and literacy for children aged 5-11.

At Swedish Film, we love movies and work to ensure that filmmakers are compensated when their films are shown outside the private home. We have represented film companies and producers for over 70 years and daily encounter a wide variety of customers who show films in different contexts. Together, we have extensive expertise in film and its various applications. We are passionate about the opportunities that each screening opens up, so do not hesitate to ask us about the rights that apply to your film screening or which films are suitable.

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