Wednesday, July 16, 2014

STEAM attendees "enamored" with institute's collaboration

As the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math Institute rolls on toward its Friday conclusion, participants have immersed themselves in completing essays, finalizing drawings, selecting material to add a layer of augmented reality to their artwork and constructing their portfolios.

Artwork by Sara Schlumbohm will be in the STEAM portfolio.
"I've learned to look at every little thing," Hannah Hill said. "There are different ways to look at this each day and make general observations. I'm able to synthesize information and turn it into a naturalist essay that is slightly poetic but fact based."

Birch Pavelsky said, "This is a great mind stretcher. I'm doing things I've never done before."

Annie Hunter, right, confers with Janice Dawe during a forest observation visit.
Hooper Bay teacher Annie Hunter has learned how to use more science in the classroom. "I'm so happy I came," she said.

Hunter's essay was about how lowbush cranberries can be used as medicinally. Shehas agreed to help STEAM label the plants featured in the artwork with Native names.

Following STEAM, North Pole Middle School teacher Denise Bates plans to take her students outdoors more often. "I have more ideas that are practical to use. This is going to help make it more concrete with a multi-sensory approach."

Christian Nicely, a graduate student from San Antonio, Texas, said STEAM has helped hone her observation skills. "I'm looking at how to interpret things differently rather than make a table of data and I'm learning to take good notes."

Eek teacher Dirk Martin plans to incorporate more art and biology into his classroom now. "I got to get out and identify plants. My plot has a stump, lichen and moss; it's a fabulous micro-habitat."

Instructor Margo Klass said STEAM involves a wide spectrum of participants. "We each bring our individual gifts, whether science, art, technology or writing. We are learning from each other and it's good for all of us."
STEAM art instructors Karen Stomberg, left, and Margo Klass discuss plans at the STEAM Institute at West Valley High School July 15.

Klass has been amazed at how the attendees want to learn for theirselves, but also are ever cognizant of what knowledge, ideas and methods they can share in their classrooms. "They never forget their students; they pass it on," she said.

Zachary Meyers works with Mountain Village teacher Eunice Bryan in the forest.
A special technological touch to this institute is the work Instructional Designer Zachary Meyers brings to the table. Using an Aurasma app, he is adding audios of essays, excerpts from science journals, links to websites and more to the students' artwork. Viewers will be able to hold an iPad up to the piece and get the live links.

"Some have photos of their field site and some link images to websites for further reading," Meyers explained. "Teacher Katie Bates composed a song, "The STEAM Waltz," that Meyers will add to her drawing.

Joan Parker-Webster joined the STEAM Institute July 15 as an educational researcher. She brought together small focus groups of STEAM participants to evaluate how the workshop is going.

"We had some great discussions about how STEAM has changed their thinking," Parker-Webster said. "I talked to people about what they learned and what works for them and how they will implement what they are learning into classrooms or personally."

Overwhelmingly, the participants validated the STEAM concepts. "One teacher was reluctant to use technology and now it will have a place in teaching," Parker-Webster said.

"It's really quite interesting. I'll go through the tapes and summarize the key points." Eventually, she and OneTree Alaska Director Janice Dawe will prepare a report about Parker-Webster's findings.

She was particularly pleased at the participation of Alaska Native teachers. "To get the indigenous perspective is the next step for STEAM and OneTree," Parker-Webster said.

"The major theme was collaboration. Thoughtful collaboration is the real strength for the whole concept of STEAM.

"Everybody is enamored with this."
Mother and daughter Ronda (left) and Sara Schlumbohm work on their essays during the STEAM Institute.

Further reading:
STEAM Institue takes botanical immersion to new levels, SNRE Science and News, July 7, 2014, by Nancy Tarnai

STEAM adds writing component to institute, SNRE Science and News, July 11, 2014, by Nancy Tarnai

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