In November 2015, Vulcan Inc., with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, teamed up with the EMP Museum and DonorsChoose.org to promote STEAM projects—science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) hands-on learning activities that also incorporate the arts (the A in STEAM)—in classrooms around the country by sponsoring the Igniting STEAM for Student Innovators Challenge.
After three rounds of vetting and voting, the winner in each of four categories—pre-K-grade 2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12—has been chosen. Each original, innovative approach to integrating STEM concepts with visual, media, or performing arts will receive $10,000 in DonorsChoose credit to support future classroom projects for that teacher.
The winners rose to the challenge of presenting a clear set of goals; engaging students in substantial, hands-on ways; and envisioning a final student production. These are the outstanding projects in each age group:
The Three Little Pigs Need Our Help!
Ms. C. of East Elementary School in Dillon, South Carolina, will help her young students do a better job of defeating huffing and puffing by building more wolf-proof houses. First they’ll use puppets to retell the original story of the Three Little Pigs. Working in teams, the students will design and build their little pig’s house, decorate their village with paint and paper, and use Ozobot wolves to try to destroy the other teams' houses. An iPad mini will help them record the entire project.
STEAMY Rockin' Ratios!
Ms. Bartolomeo of the Center for Inquiry at School 84 in Indianapolis, Indiana, will integrate the concepts of ratios and sound frequency as she and her students build a dulcimer, the easiest stringed instrument for beginners to play. They’ll hone their skills by first building straw panpipes to practice laying out an accurate musical scale. They’ll then assemble dulcimers and rehearse for their scheduled performance at Indiana's Bicentennial Celebration later in 2016.
Design, Develop and Make a Difference
Mrs. Jackson in Orleans, Massachusetts, rallied science classes, an after-school art club and a community service club to clean up local beaches and showcase why it is important to water quality. Now the students will create a community mural showcasing the devastating effects of ocean debris on Cape Cod for Orlean’s 2016 Celebrate Our Waters weekend. The students will paint an underwater scene and incorporate 3D printed animals and trash they collected into an Operation Ocean Rescue board game similar to the original Operation board game.
Environmental Images and Videos for Change
Mr. Arsenie at Schurz High School in Chicago, Illinois, leads classes of AP and IB students in environmental studies. With a video camera, they plan to convey the empirical, evidence-based science they learn in the field to educate others. In one-minute wonder videos they can plan and shoot topics meaningful to them, moving on to three-to-five minute fully edited “EcoStories” that bring attention to a local or global environmental issue.
Congratulations to all the winners of funding. Vulcan and EMP Museum are proud to work with DonorsChoose to support so many worthy STEAM projects. Since the organization was founded in 2000, it has provided a way for anyone to help a classroom in need. Teachers at over 60 percent of all the public schools in America have created project requests, and more than 1.9 million people have donated $368 million to fund them. More than 16 million students—most from low-income communities—have received books, art supplies, field trips, technology and other resources that they need to learn.