In the fall of 2013 I joined the South Fayette School District team as an outreach coordinator to share their STEAM Fusion computational thinking model with two other schools – the Fort Cherry School District and the Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS). Since there was no grant to bring any outside resources to the MACS classrooms to start the 2014 school year, I worked with the teachers at MACS to keep STEAMing along. Anne Batyko, the art teacher for MACS, led the charge as students worked with the computer language, Scratch, to integrate coding into academic subject areas in grades 2-8.
Each year the Fort Cherry Elementary School has an interactive art fair. Students in sixth grade design art objects and then the students become art guides to showcase their work for their K-5 peers. This year the interactive displays included Hummingbird Robotics “Dwellings.” Students designed a variety of dwellings that incorporated sound, sensors, and lights. For Birdbrain Technologies, the parent company for the Hummingbird Kit, I helped to develop a 2 day workshop for certified trainers.
Throughout Western Pennsylvania (and the USA) there has been a growing interest in the use of Human-Centered Design as a key component in a STEAM model. In the past year I visited and observed students and teachers working on Design Challenges at the Environmental Charter School (ECS), the Ellis Upper School, and Avonworth High School. I gathered my observations and interviews with key folks at each site into an article published by Zulama, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off from the Entertainment Technology Center. Over the winter I paired Zulama with PAECT, the state educational technology organization, to create a game-based learning workshop at Southpointe, a regional technology center.
For the past seven years I’ve coordinated the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference (TRETC) for the Pittsburgh Technology Council. This year I’ve taken on an additional event – the STEM Summit that the Carnegie Science Science Center will host on April 20.
This spring I began working with the Montour School District to help them to write a series of grant proposals for their STEM program and to develop an interview process to hire two full-time technology staff members.