Imaginative Connections: GA STEM/STEAM Conference Recap

By Cindy Kerr posted 10-31-2019 14:43


Recently, I had the pleasure to attend the annual Georgia STEM/STEAM Forum (Oct. 20-22). It was my first experience at this or any STEAM conference, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Guess what? It was a fabulous group of educators, all gathered to find new ideas in the world of STEM and STEAM.  Everyone shared remarkable project outcomes that their students had created, and all the teachers were excited to be teaching and learning.

To kick off the event, Crayolians spoke to first-time attendees about our exciting new partnership with the Georgia Aquarium. They briefly described the STEAM professional learning opportunities that will be available to Georgia educators. We were excited to imagine the deep learning participants will experience, incorporating our SEEK visible thinking protocol while observing whales, fish, and fantastic undersea life, and connecting STEAM activities to real-world applications.

I loved hearing the stories from the educators about the unique STEAM projects they have offered their students - it was inspiring. Teachers loved sharing photos of their students’ work. There were several high school art teachers that are members of this community! They are using creatED resources to help incorporate more STEAM into their classrooms and they love using Crayola products to infuse art into STEM!

In particular, the students of two agriculture teachers designed a room-sized museum of agriculture that was a true installation. They carved a pediment and columns that looked like marble. They created images of seeds, plants, and livestock which were accompanied by researched data. The teachers were deservedly quite proud of their students’ work.

Under the title of STEAM Ignites Learning, I led two workshops that gave participants a taste of our CreatED STEAM courses. 

In our Design-A-Toy Workshop, STEAM teams (scientists, tech experts, engineers, artists, and mathematicians) collaboratively designed a learning toy. Following a brief planning session, they used a variety of drawing materials to share their 2D prototype. The s  groups came up with a variety of remarkable toy ideas with intriguing teaching capabilities. The creativity and innovation are exciting and motivating.

During the second workshop, the participants learned about game systems. Given a set of pre-printed cards along with a second set of blank cards, each STEAM team developed a card game that focused on biomimicry. Stumped at first, the groups came up with fabulously imaginative connections. One group linked the idea of a chameleon’s tongue that twirls when it reaches out for an insect and recycling machines that use an arm with a similar motion to sort objects on the conveyor belt as they float by. The game cards referenced the importance of recycling along with items that could and could not be recycled.

Here are a few meaningful take-aways that I would love to share with other educators.

  1. STEAM is STEM creativity infused into the project plan or design. My assumption is that most STEM teachers are already asking their students to draw out their vision for their prototype or project solution. Adding the arts is engaging and provides differentiated instruction, providing opportunities for diverse learners.
  2. If you need funding for a STEAM project there’s quite a bit of Title I, Title IV and other monies available. Crayola has a list online of grants and resources aligned to the arts for which your school could apply.
  3. Crayola’s creatED professional development is research-based, tested by educators and students, and promotes creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. Teaching and learning through the arts is known to increase student attendance and improve school culture. When teachers are happier at work, they are more likely to remain in the field of education.

Has your school made the transition from STEM to STEAM, or started infusing the arts throughout the curriculum?
Share your experiences, challenges, and outcomes below!