April 2019 Administrative Update
by: Richard Clements
Director of Technology & Information Systems
East Aurora UFSD has embarked upon a journey to bring rich course offerings to our students in the areas of STEAM Education across all grade levels.
What Is STEAM?
STEAM curriculum focuses on the subjects of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. STEAM programs approach these subjects in an integrated way such that elements of each subject are applied to the others.
STEAM is a growing educational movement globally. STEAM programs are intended to increase students' interest in pursuing higher education and careers in those fields. STEAM combines traditional classroom methods with hands-on activities. This model gives students opportunities to experience different ways of learning while applying their creativity and problem-solving skills.
History and Criticisms
Critics of STEAM education often refer to the movement as an academic fad. Others criticize the inclusion of art (The “A” in STEAM) due to a perception of being somehow less technical.
The facts; STEAM has been a part of the American educational landscape since the 1860’s (inception of the land-grant college system.) In practice, the industrial revolution relied heavily on STEAM concepts for design, mass-production and efficient manufacturability. The space race, beginning in the late 1950’s, is brimming with examples of STEAM concepts.
Critics of art as a STEAM component may wish to visit the Roycroft campus. Roycrofters designed and produced items such as windows, tables, furniture and book bindings ALWAYS with an eye for the aesthetic as key part of the design. As a foundational element of our town’s culture and history, the historic and current works of the Roycrofters certainly demonstrate that art has a robust place within STEAM curriculum
Benefits of STEAM
STEAM education is intended to provide students with the skills and knowledge that are rapidly becoming more relevant and necessary in today's economy and society.
Fosters ingenuity and creativity
Promotes Use and Understanding of Technology
Teaches Logic and its’ Practical Application
STEAM Education at EAUFSD
At EAHS, we’ve remodeled the classroom and created a STEAM lab featuring 30 high-end computers for students. These contain software for CAD (Computer Aided Design), model rocket telemetry analysis, robotics and art. Students have access to four 3D printers, laser engraver and a computer controlled router. The Art department has 28 updated computers with the latest available art software. Elements of CAD programs have been added to Art department computers - simultaneously, elements of art software are being added to CAD computers. Faculty members are integrating the curriculum used in both areas.
At EAMS, we’ve recently opened a new STEAM lab. Currently, 28 high-powered student computers running the latest CAD, robotics and art software are available. Additionally, four 3D printers are installed and ready for student use. We will soon add a laser engraver and a vinyl cutter to the roster of available output devices for students.
At Parkdale, a classroom has been dedicated for the purpose of STEAM Education. Teachers and administrators are carefully evaluating several robotics kits that will provide students with opportunities to learn the basics of logic, programming, creativity and problem solving.
Teachers at all three buildings continue to hone their existing talents to take advantage of the new resources available. The district is also considering a means by which STEAM curriculum will coordinate across all grade levels for maximum impact.
The district gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the East Aurora Education Foundation, AW Miller, the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club and hundreds of community members who have contributed their time, talents and financial resources to the cause.
Arguably, the best feedback regarding these endeavors has been the reaction of our students. The enthusiasm, creativity and critical thinking skills that have been displayed thus far has clearly demonstrated the benefit of these efforts. We eagerly look forward to continuing the progress.