Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Middle School Puts an 'A' for the Arts in Steam

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Middle School Puts an 'A' for the Arts in Steam

Article excerpt

While many schools are focusing on STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - Gateway Middle School is adding an 'A' throughout its curriculum.

"We're integrating the arts in a meaningful way," principal Rocco Telli said of the school's STEAM-based curriculum.

The school used a $20,000 grant from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to furnish its dedicated STEAM classroom but, Mr. Telli said, STEAM is "truly in the entire building."

"We want to expose every kid in the building to STEAM," he said.

"What makes our program different is we actually have a [STEAM- dedicated] class," said Craig Stamford, a technology education teacher at the middle school in Monroeville.

All seventh-graders take a nine-week course called Exploring Engineering, in which students design items such as phone and tablet holders using the computer program Autodesk. The creations are printed on the school's 3-D printer.

In the STEAM classroom, Mr. Stamford and fellow technology education teacher Steve Reese teach students it's OK to have to try something a few times to get it right.

"Failure is key," Mr. Reese said, adding it often takes students a number of times before their design becomes functional.

"The core of engineering is solving a problem," Mr. Stamford said.

Eighth-grader Megan Then said she enjoys making things in the STEAM classroom at school.

"You can make it how you want," she said.

Mr. Reese also had students make a robot that can play golf. The students used LEGO NXT software, which Mr. Reese said students at Carnegie Mellon University also use.

"This project came from a student's idea," Mr. Reese said.

Life-skills students at the school also are benefiting from STEAM learning.

Teachers Erica Detman and Kathy Bishop recently were awarded a Great Idea Grant from the Consortium for Public Education and used the funds to start a greenhouse in the school's courtyard.

Ms. Detman came up with the idea to have a greenhouse this past fall after she realized some of her students didn't know how to do outdoor tasks, such as raking.

"Some of them were afraid of the dirt," she said.

A few weeks ago, students planted spinach, tomato, cilantro, basil and flower seeds in the greenhouse and in outdoor beds. …

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