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NAMS has new STEAM concept

“We are full-steam ahead at Northampton Area Middle School,” said Patrice Turner, middle school principal.

Turner and a team of teachers presented the latest concept in innovative education May 21 to Northampton Area School District Board of Education.

STEAM, as in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, is an expansion, with the addition of the arts, to an approach that emphasizes hands-on participation by students, collaboration among students and an emphasis on the maker movement.

The middle school has a maker space in its media center, funded by a Northampton Area Konkrete Kids Educational Foundation grant. An Intermediate Unit 20 grant also has aided the program.

School directors tried their hands at a student project, “STEAM Challenge: Building a Foundation,” whereby toothpicks and gumdrops construct a base in five minutes that could support a book for 10 seconds. NASD school board President David Gogel seemed to be the first to successfully complete his.

But it’s not who’s first or who wins and loses. STEAM encourages students to experiment. When they do, it’s their imagination that wins.

“It’s a safe environment,” said Lydia Hanner, NASD director of curriculum and instruction.

Not only do students win, but teachers win, too.

“The hands-on (methods) have revived me in terms of my teaching,” said Todd Bowser, STEAM seminar seventh-grade teacher. “It allows me to be more creative.”

Candice Pinto, sixth-grade seminar teacher, received an I-U Excellence in Education Award.

Also presenting to the board were Erin Miller, seminar middle school art teacher, and Renee Horwath, eighth-grade seminar teacher.

“We’ve been working with our technology teachers to embed the program at the elementary level,” Hanner said.

PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINNASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik, right, is pictured with the STEAM team at the May 21 NASD board meeting - Todd Bowser, Patrice Turner, Renee Horwath, Erin Miller and Candace Pinto.