Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Integrating the Arts in STEAM @BCS

As BCS celebrates its 10th year in public education, it is once again being seen as a model school for one of its marquee programs known around the country as STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.  While art and design – the “A” in STEAM – were not officially added to the national education initiative designed to boost the country’s ability to compete in the 21st century until February of 2013, BCS has been integrating art into the sciences for years.

Until recently, schools across the country focused only on STEM (without the arts component) after several state and national programs were formed to push the emphasis on science and math in K-12 schools.

There is now a growing advocacy effort for educators to integrate art and design into the sciences.  A recent Wall Street Journal article details the movement in everything from Sesame Street to Stanford.

At BCS, we are incredibly proud to have a robust STEAM program for all of our students.  The addition of the FabLab@BCS and MakerSpace this year has allowed for us to take STEAM to the next level, as reported in this Forbes article.  The Los Altos Town Crier recently featured our science and art integration at BCS and BCI.  You can read the full article here, or continue reading below.

Full STEAM ahead: BCS program integrates art and science disciplines

Courtesy of Bullis Charter School 
Bullis Charter School integrates art with science, math and technology instruction. 

Published on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 00:02
Written by Los Altos Town Crier Staff - Town Crier Report

Bullis Charter School’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) initiative, a staple at the 10-year-old school, integrates art into the sciences.
“Our art specialist has worked closely across grade levels and across disciplines to design integrated units of study since he began working here nine years ago,” said Superintendent/Principal Wanny Hersey.

This year, according to Hersey, the charter school has taken STEAM to a new level with the addition of the FabLab and MakerSpace, which offer all students access to the latest technologies and the opportunity to learn from experts in their fields.
On the school’s second site – the Bullis Center for Innovation – Hersey and her staff have implemented a STEAM program designed to support and enhance the traditional grade-level curriculum.

In the sixth grade, for example, students studied early man in social studies, which laid the groundwork for their first design-thinking challenge of the year – creating a topographical map that shows the ideal setting for survival in prehistoric times. After much collaboration among grade-level teachers, the art specialist and the FabLab director, students applied their historical knowledge using their newly acquired 3-D rendering software skills to create prototypes designed to scale by incorporating math standards in the planning stages.

The exploration of early man continued in art, where students studied and re-created cave paintings and stone art, with a goal to deepen their understanding of the historical period.

After completing the design challenge, students wrote a historical fiction narrative about early man.

Sixth-grade teacher Dan Gross said the results impressed him.

“I was blown away by how well the students mastered the content,” he said. “Paper and pencil learning can only go so deep, but this design challenge allowed all students to be engaged in their own learning, and they got to do that in a way that prepares them for life in the 21st century.”