STEAM

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Toyosi Egbebi says she spends a lot of her free time taking things apart and trying to figure out how they work.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 10 miles south of Pittsburgh, a construction crew in Bridgeville is finishing the tech wing of the new Chartiers Valley High School.

Best Robotics

The national robotics education nonprofit Best Robotics is moving its headquarters to Pittsburgh.

Thousands of students participate in Best Robotics competitions annually, spending six weeks building robots with real world potential.

“Every year there's an industry theme for the competition,” said executive director Rosemary Mendel. “Last year, it was agriculture; this year, it's fire and rescue.”

The idea is to train the future tech workforce and get more kids excited about pursuing careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Alexander Popichak / 90.5 WESA

For teacher Keara Welsh, the best way to experience science is through hands-on discovery, but it can often be challenging.

“In my space indoors, I don’t have any sinks. I have carpets,” said Welsh, a STEAM instructor at Fort Cherry School District in McDonald, Pa.

She said trying to keep classrooms clean can be difficult, which is why she loves working in the new Fort Cherry Discovery Zone, an outdoor classroom featuring two gardens and a solar-powered weather station.

“So, this is a great area for me to explore the messy part of science,” Welsh said. 

Homewood - Brushton YMCA Opens Creative Youth Center

Nov 14, 2016
Marcus Charleston / WESA

Giordan Dixon, 16, stuck to his script at the new Homewood – Brushton YMCA on Bennett Street in Homewood South.

“I want to be a singer and a music producer,” he said, guiding small tours.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

It may be summer, but on a recent sunny June day, a small group of teachers and students stayed indoors. They sat in classrooms at the South Fayette School District campus for a different take on traditional summer school.  

Integrating The Arts Into STEM Curriculum

Nov 16, 2015
Eddie Welker / flickr

Creating the formula for the perfect curriculum can be a complex issue, requiring balance between subjects, instructors and policy advocates.

For several years, there’s been an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), but many education experts are now pushing for an equal emphasis on the creative arts.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

In two years, Pittsburgh’s Woolslair Elementary has gone from the verge of closure to one of the cornerstones of the district’s new STEAM initiative. Woolslair will become a partial magnet school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

School districts in seven western Pennsylvania counties are getting a share of $530,000 in Allegheny Intermediate Unit grants for programs that blend science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM.

How to use air quality assessors to measure pollution, robots to teach coding skills and conductive sewing to create bike vests that illuminate at night: These are just a few of the things educators are learning at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s transformED classroom.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Citrone Fund have given a $40,000 grant to the AIU to update transformED and to create a lending library of its innovative resources.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

Teens from around the world were in Pittsburgh this week presenting projects at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair hosted Downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Forget electromagnets and mouse trap cars. Many of these high-level high-schoolers are published authors and hold patents. Last year’s winner created a test for pancreatic cancer now headed toward clinical trial. 

ISEF, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Approximately 1,700 high school students from over 75 countries, regions and territories compete to attend the fair. Showcases of independent research result in nearly $4 million in prizes.

Indiana freshman Noor Abdullah examined how a sweet-smelling shrub affects nearby soil.

Nearly $900,000 in grant funding has been pledged to implement Pittsburgh Public School’s plan to transition a Bloomfield elementary school into a partial STEAM magnet.

The school board voted to develop Woolslair PreK-5, the district’s smallest school with 110 students, into a partial science, technology, engineering, arts and math – or STEAM – magnet school in September after initial plans to close the school. The plan also includes developing curriculum at three other STEAM magnets, Lincoln prek-5, Schiller 6-8 and Perry High School. The board will vote to accept the grants at the April 22 legislative meeting.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

At Beaver Falls High School, Tim Liller teaches technology education, or the class typically thought of as "shop."

Once a staple of high school education, shop class has fallen by the wayside with the decline of American manufacturing. But here, Liller's students still learn the basics, including how to wire a home and fix small engines. And more recently, they've also been learning how to make solar panels and build hydro and wind generators.

These are skills Liller hopes they can build on when they graduate.

"There are jobs out there, and I don’t know where, but I’m sure kids gain the knowledge here, and if they are interested in it they could probably find a job doing it because they have some base knowledge in how things work," Liller said. 

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

On a recent Thursday morning at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, eighth graders Tori Hogue and Riley Wolynn are hacking web pages.

It's not "hacking" in the sense that often dominates headlines. The students are using a web program to inspect and manipulate websites, and in the process, learn HTML. 

"The thing is it's only for our eyes to see, so it's not illegal or anything," explains Wolynn, as she shows off her new coding and programming skills.

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Summer camp — it’s not just for kids anymore. 

Teachers from around the Pittsburgh area and from as far away as Alabama this week attended the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute at South Fayette Intermediate School to learn how to embed robotics, computational thinking and game design into their curricula.  

Amidst lights flashing  and lots of beeps, elementary school teachers are playing with, or rather experimenting with, littleBits — tiny circuit boards engineered to snap together with magnets.