Posts Tagged ‘STEM’


Jason Wilber

April 17, 2017

Singer-songwriter on art in our lives

In this youtube video Jason Wilber explores the idea of the practical value of art in our lives. Exploring the ideas that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that art is a window into our psyche. He sees that the arts are equally important as science, technology, engineering, and math.

“A piece of art, when its successful, allows the viewer or the audience to see something in themselves that they couldn’t see in any other way.”


Big Fun Friday

November 21, 2016

What a day!

I had the pleasure of participating in three very different events last Friday. The STEM Summit, the 3-day reading of Moby Dick, and an amazing dance performance at Thornton Academy.


screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-9-04-05-pmMy morning started at Colby College at the STEM Summit “Building Bridges: Developing Partnerships to Build Capacity for STEM Education in Maine”. I was a member of a panel including Lindsey Pinchbeck, SweetTree Arts; Brett Elwell, EverFi; Hannah Walden, Maine Central Institute; Kate Cook Whitt, Thomas College; and Eva Szillery, Maine Mathematics Science and Engineering Talent Search. The session was called “Addressing STEM From Differing Perspectives for Students” and below is the description. I had the chance to share some of the amazing Maine arts educators work happening in STEAM in Maine!!

Designing engaging STEM learning experiences cannot be done through one-size-fits all approaches. This panel showcases the wide variety of ways learners can access STEM, through the arts, sports, coding, and others. Learn about the opportunities that are available to Maine’s teachers and how you can participate in these innovative approaches to STEM learning and teaching.

Irwin Gratz

Irwin Gratz


From there I headed south to the Portland Museum of Art to participate in the three-day non-stop reading of the classic Moby Dick. It was fun and a fairly intense experience. We had to read from the book that they provided. For those of you who have read the book the language can be challenging and the sentences a mile long. It has been some time since I read to my own sons or my middle school students so reading out loud felt like a new experience. By the end my eyes were bouncing!

Interestingly enough, from PBS radio, Irwin Gratz read not to long before my scheduled 10 minutes. And, not long after me Julie Richard read. What I loved most but wasn’t able to appreciate it (since I was looking down to follow along in the book) was behind the reader on the large screen were rotating images of a graphic novel of Moby Dick.


img_4394My last stop of the day was at Thornton Academy in Saco for the Fall Into Dance concert. Participating schools: Thornton Academy, Berwick Academy, Studio for the Living Arts, Collective Motion, Community Dance Project, New England Dance Project. Last years performance raised $2,650 and the funding was awarded to MSAD #33 for a dance education residency which will take place in two weeks. I was stunned when I read on the giant check the amount of $3575.00. Look for the information in the future and begin conversations with your colleagues about possibilities of having a teaching artist at your school next school year.


Announcing the amount of $3575.00 being given to the Maine Arts Commission to disperse as a dance education grant.



In Today’s News

February 27, 2016

Building guitars

Student gain STEM skills by building guitars. Read about the program in the Bangor Daily News, February 23, at Cobscook Community Learning Center’s high school program at



NSF Funded Research

December 13, 2015

Arts Based Learning of STEM Works

Wondering about the impact on STEM that the Arts are making? If so, I suggest that you check out the following information.


Research Project Summary:
Related STEAM Resource Website:

• The high school students who had arts-based learning showed large and statistically significant pre/post improvements in such creative thinking skills as idea range (13%), problem analysis (50%) and number of solutions generated (37%). In many cases, students who had traditional STEM learning actually declined in these aspects of creative thinking — so the overall differentials between arts-based and traditional learning was even more dramatic (idea range = 22%, problem analysis = 121%, solutions generated = 43%). Thus, it appears as though arts-based learning may be an effective way to “inoculate” learners against the collapse of creativity that may sometimes accompany traditional forms of high school learning.

• Arts-based learning had a far more powerful impact on the collaborative behaviors of adults than traditional learning, based on actual observed behaviors. Examples from the final week of the study: arts-based teams exhibited 56% more instances of empathic listening, 33% more instances of mutual respect being shown, 119% more instances of trust being demonstrated and 24% more sharing of leadership. All differences cited here are statistically significant.

• The innovation outputs of high school student teams who had arts-based learning showed 111% greater insight into the challenge, a 74% greater ability to clearly identify a relevant problem, a 43% improvement in problem solving, and their innovations had 68% more impact. All are statistically significant.

• 120 days after the study, high school students who had arts-based learning were 24% more likely to have been able to apply the learning to school, extracurricular, work or volunteer activities, than students who had traditional learning. They were also 44% more optimistic in their belief that the training would prove helpful in those realms in the future.


News from Americans for the Arts

December 18, 2014

All about Arts Education

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 8.27.27 AMThe Americans for the Arts website has a plethora of information including this  overview: Americans for the Arts serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Founded in 1960, Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. Below is information that was provided in their Weekly News Roundup.


  • Sign The Petition – Support Arts Education
    Join us in asking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to clarify that the arts are eligible for federal funds. This action will especially help new school administrators, who, in an age of overwhelming education reform, may not know what is possible. With most states now operating under waivers from outdated federal education law, now is a great time for the secretary to set the record straight. Let’s raise our voices in chorus to show that we value a well-rounded education for all students! Read more.
  • Stubhub Supports Arts Education
    StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, is partnering with The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to raise awareness and support for keeping music education alive in schools across the United States. Watch and share this moving film featuring Trombone Shorty, Grouplove, arts teachers and students on the importance of supporting music education. Read more.
  • Building Social Harmony, One Woodwind At A Time
    The Massachusetts Cultural Council announced this week that it has launched a new music education initiative for underserved students throughout the state — the first statewide program of its kind in the United States. It blends a forward-thinking attitude toward music and arts education and a focus on multiculturalism and community empowerment that, taken together, can dramatically change students’ lives. Read more.
  • Grade Schools Use The Arts To Improve Science Education
    Through an innovative new program developed at UC Irvine, the arts and the sciences – which often occupy opposite ends of the grammar school curriculum – are being integrated to help young students better grasp the basics of Earth, life and physical sciences. Read more.
  • STEM Vs. STEAM: Do The Arts Belong?
    A tug of war is currently looming between proponents of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and advocates for STEAM lessons, which add art to the mix. Whichever side you come down on, here are some ideas for you to mull over. Read more.
  • Universal Music Classics Partners With U. Miami’s Frost School Of Music
    Universal Music Classics (a subsidiary of Universal Music Group) and the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music have announced plans to forge a business-academic partnership called Universal Music U @ Frost, intended to grow the next generation of artists and audiences for classical music. Read more.
  • UNM Professor Advocates STEAM Instead Of STEM
    Anne Taylor, who taught art education at the university, served as dean of the graduate school and taught in the School of Architecture and Planning, thinks that STEM’s science, technology, education and math aren’t enough. She would like to see an “A” for “Arts and Architecture” added to the acronym. Read more.
  • National Center for Creative Aging Invites Applications for Technical Assistance Program
    Grants of $5,000 will be awarded to help organizations host and provide onsite technical assistance to a MetLife Foundation Leadership Award winner. The Leadership Award Winner will mentor senior staff and will help train staff, partnering organizations, and community members in developing an arts program. The grant also is intended to support the production of a half-day best practices forum that brings together programs, organizations, and community partners dedicated to the arts, education, health, social work, and aging in the community. Read more.
  • These 12 Childhood Art Techniques Can Help Adults Relieve Stress
    Making art doesn’t necessarily sound like a stress reliever. Finding inspiration, keeping concentration, finding your artistic voice — these things demand extreme attention, time and effort. Yet there is something about expressing your creative side that can help put your mind at ease. Read more.
  • The Arts Inspire Success
    Arts education develops a passion for music, painting or acting. Students with a passion for one subject tend to do better academically across the board — an excitement about learning spills over into other areas of the curriculum. Even students who do not develop a lifelong interest in the arts benefit from the skills taught through study of the arts — self-discipline, teamwork, creative thinking and problem-solving. Read more.
  • Why Music Majors Make Some Of The Best Entrepreneurs
    Learning how to play a musical instrument and becoming a musician is an exercise in developing good listening skills, experimenting, overcoming repeated failure, self-discipline, and successful collaboration. It is simply impossible to become a successful music professional unless one also masters certain theoretical concepts, develops good presentation and improvisational skills and, ultimately, attains that elusive quality of originality that only comes once fear of failure is overtaken by the desire to acquire a new insight, a fresh perspective, and a unique voice. Read more.
  • “Art Without A Roof” Supports At-Risk Artists
    Through Educational and Sustainability Initiatives It has often been said that the greatest art is produced by troubled souls. Whether this is true or not, the reality is that many artists do struggle with issues like mental illness, poverty, homelessness and emotional trauma from war experiences. The Art Without a Roof (AWR) brand helps these at-risk artists by offering them the opportunity to obtain a scholarship that can be used on basic needs, tutoring, GED completion, and/or a college scholarship. Read more.


October 2, 2014

Information on STEM vs. STEAM from the University of Florida

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are the center of attention in most US public schools today. The focus on STEM fields was initiated to increase global competitiveness and the project does have its merits. However, it has left the arts languishing far off in the periphery. This is quite unfortunate, as art education is known to improve academic performance.

– On average, students who study the arts for 4 years in high school score 98 points higher on the SATs compared to those who study the same for half a year or less.

– Students who took up music appreciation scored 61 points higher on the verbal section and 42 points higher on the math section.

Of the elementary schools with arts, the most common subjects revolve around music at 94% and visual studies at 83%. Only 3% offer dance instruction while 4% provide theater arts.

Training in the arts has been shown to improve creativity and innovation. Students learn to approach issues with a critical mind and a positive attitude towards problem solving. Exposure to the arts enhances communication skills, which are essential tools for collaboration. It develops flexibility and adaptability. The government recognizes these and, indeed, 48 states have adopted standards for art instructions.


– 51% of art teachers are unhappy about what they see as the decline in art education brought about by the shift in focus. The difficulty in measuring art’s contribution to academic performance has led to its under appreciation.

To learn more about STEM vs STEAM, take a look below at the infographic below created by the University of Florida.

My apology that the graphic below is not more clear. If you use this link you can go directly to the University of Florida’s page where you will find their information including several resources and the graphic.




Rhode Island School of Design

January 19, 2014

Design Science Symposium STEM to STEAM thru Synergy

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Fourth Biennial Design Science Symposium, STEM to STEAM thru Synergy: Bridging Morphology, Biomimicry, Sustainability and Synergetics, will convene January 31 – February 2, 2014, Metcalf Auditorium at the Chace Center and at the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, on the RISD campus.

The Symposium will be a highly interactive meeting of makers, thinkers, practitioners, and educators, who will gather in order to explore the multidisciplinary field of Design Science. There will be presentations, panel discussions, workshops, a film screening, tours, and an exhibit.

Keynote speakers will include RISD’s Interim President, Rosanne Somerson, Dayna Baumeister, PhD, Biomimic & Co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8, Dennis M. Bartels, PhD, Director of the San Francisco Exploratorium, and Richard Bresnahan, Master Ceramicist and Artist in Residence, St. Johns University.

Somerson recently filled the position of former RISD President, John Maeda, a champion of the educational initiative, STEM to STEAM. STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. It represents an integrative and multidisciplinary approach to education. STEM + A = STEAM.

Presentations from notable speakers, including Deborah Gist, PhD, Commissioner of Rhode Island Department of Education, Kavita Ramanan, PhD, Mathematician & Professor, Brown University, Lefteris Pavlides, Architect & Professor, Roger Williams University, Thomas T. K. Zung, Architect & Design Historian, Buckminster Fuller, Sadao, & Zung, and Eric Goetz, owner of Bristol-based racing boat builders Goetz Composites, amongst others. Goetz will speak about the recent commission to restore of one of Buckminster Fuller’s most iconic structures, the 24-ft/7.3m Fly’s Eye Dome.

Participants will have the opportunity to attend hands-on design science workshops, facilitated by engineers, inventors, designers, and mathematicians. Facilitators will include George Hart, Bob Sanderson, Leftheris Pavlides, Chris Kitrick, Joe Clinton, Ed Popko, Dick Esterle, and Gary Doskas.

Debut film screening and discussion with film-maker and author Christopher Zelov, who recently completed a documentary film (30 minutes), A Visit with Magnus, featuring Father Magnus Wenniger (born 1919), who is a monk, mathematician, and builder of polyhedron models. Zelov, along with Phil Cousineau and Brian Danitz co-edited the book Design Outlaws on the Ecological Frontier and co-created the award-winning documentary Ecological Design: Inventing the Future.

Participants will enjoy tours of both the Arthur Loeb Design Science Teaching Collection and The Edna Lawrence Nature Lab. The Loeb Collection is quite special, featuring of hundreds of three-dimensional polyhedra and two-dimensional patterns that inspire students and faculty to examine nature’s fundamental responses to design problems. The Nature Lab, with its growing collection of more than 80,000 natural history objects, books, visual resources, microscopes and a digital work station, serves as an invaluable research facility for the RISD community.

Concurrent to the Symposium will be an exhibit titled, Investigating the Lab: Relationships between Art, Design, and Science, co-curated by RISD faculty, Carl Fasano, and RISD alum, Sophia Sobers. The exhibit will be on display in the Waterman Gallery, adjacent to RISD’s Edna Lawrence Nature Lab. Looking at the influence and application of science-driven and science-inspired work, this exhibition will showcase the wide range of ways students engage science within their work. Ranging from detailed illustrations to organ inspired jewelry, the exhibition showcases a cohesive undercurrent of studio practice, and works of art and design, which access a wide range of scientific topics.

Panel discussions with RISD faculty, Peter Dean, Carl Fasano, and Amy Leidtke, will address the question “What is Design Science?” and a student panel will discuss their work and studio practice that which engages science.

The Synergetics Collaborative and The Edna Lawrence Nature Lab have organized Biennial Design Science Symposia at RISD since 2007. This Symposium, the RISD and Brown STEAM Clubs will participate, lending their energy, talents, and enthusiasm to the event.

To register, visit Register by January 10 to get the early bird discount. RISD and Brown students attend the event at no cost. Participating K-12 Educators will receive a Professional Development Report from RISD.

For more information contact Jaime Marland,


Mad Science and the Arts

December 19, 2013

An article by Jonathan Katz

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 8.42.54 PMThe executive director of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Jonathan Katz, provides insight on a book that is actually filled with inventions, discoveries, science, and technology. The information is taken from Wired Magazine and edited by Randy Alfred. The examples in the book exemplify how artistic and design skills are needed and necessary in so many instances. In what has been created through history and continues to be true today.


Taken from the article located by clicking here:

Close observation, which has been understood as the first step in modern scientific method since Francis Bacon first described it in 1620, is not only visual. Artistic skills include hearing, touching, moving, smelling, tasting; it’s useful to think of artistic skill as sensory awareness and exploration. Some scientists and engineers make extraordinary contributions because they have ideas about what needs to be heard. Heinrich Stölzel, in 1814, is credited with inventing a system of valves for the French horn. Before this time, “natural” horns were used for signals and ceremonies, but it was a rare virtuoso who could play multiple notes.

We can talk about the importance of integrating the arts, the value it brings to learning experiences for students, and how adaptable and transferable arts learning is but this statement by Katz is a great example:

I’ve checked out several compendia of “greatest inventions” and “innovations that changed the world” recently and have found some compelling themes. The breakthroughs come through an integrated mix of the three basic symbol systems that learners draw upon to understand and explore everything—numeracy, literacy and imagery (where imagery includes sensory impressions, not only visual).

I recommend that you read the entire article which will give you a broad view as well as details.

Shree Nayar


Call for Presenters

November 23, 2013

IEEE, pronounced “Eye-triple-E,” stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 9.02.49 AMThe 4th IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC 2014), Friend Center at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, March 8, 2014.

We welcome submissions for the 4th IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC 2014), to be held Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Friend Center, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

This year’s theme is Designing Pathways to STEM Success.  While all papers on methods of and/or experience with integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education are welcome, we are very
interested in papers on STEaM (STEM + art) initiatives that have resulted in student recruitment and retention in STEM, especially among students from underrepresented populations in the disciplines. We are also interested in hearing from all parties involved in STEM education, including students and parents concerning their experiences practices.

Please submit a full paper of 4 to 6 pages for review by 11:59 pm Sunday, January 12, 2014.  Your paper must not have been published or submitted for publication elsewhere.  Please see the author’s kit, available at, for format information and template. Acceptances will be sent no later than Sunday, February 3, 2014. The deadline for submitting a revised paper is Sunday, February 24, 2014. All accepted
papers will be presented at the conference and included in the conference proceedings, which will be submitted for publication in IEEE Xplore.

ISEC 2014 is associated with the Trenton Computer Festival, to be held on Saturday, March 15, 2014 and with the Information Technology Professional Conference, co-located with TCF Friday and Saturday, March 14 – 15, 2014.
Information on these conferences is available at and  You are also encouraged to submit abstracts to these conferences.

ISEC 2014 is sponsored by the IEEE Princeton / Central Jersey Section, IEEE Region 1, and the IEEE Education Society.

Please see our web site for the full CFP, including fee schedules.  Contact for more information.  We look forward to your participation in ISEC 2014!


The Next Edison

November 3, 2013

Research linking arts and STEM

Artsy Kids More Likely to be the Next Edison published in Laboratory Equipment by Michigan State University, October 24, 2013. Research at Michigan State University links “childhood participation in arts and crafts activities to patents generated and businesses launched as adults”. You might be thinking as I did, that the research referred to pre-school or elementary age children. In fact, the researchers defined childhood as up to 14 years old.  The students included in the study were honors graduates who had majored in science, technology, engineering, or math. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

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