Learning and sharing at the STEM to STEAM Conference

September 15, 2015

Faculty in the Science and Arts Departments presented in multiple topics at the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) Conference “From STEM to STEAM” in Richmond, VA this summer. The program attracted educators from the U.S. and abroad to participate in a robust discussion of the value of STEAM education for girls. Teachers and administrators shared ways in which schools are meeting the desires of students and their families for innovative and provocative learning in science, technology, engineering, art, and math that encourages girls to advance their learning and careers in these fields. The conference was organized by Jen Evers Shakeshaft '91, director of strategic initiatives and professional development at NCGS.

Stacie Steinke, Krista Cowan, and Sasha Newman from the Arts Department shared their process of assessment in the subjective area of arts education to a packed lecture hall. Teachers and administrators alike express the desire to incorporate more arts experiences into the teaching and learning of science and math, but have not had the framework to evaluate student performance. The Arts Department presentation gave them a rubric and philosophy of evaluation that they were delighted to have and use in their course work.

Dr. Ashley Johnson and Reyna Pratt from the Science Department shared their experience of combining students’ engineering experience with real-world needs in the community with the EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) program to help wounded veterans.

Dr. Stacey Boyette from the Science Department facilitated a project-idea sharing session that included class structure and teaching tips that she has used in the Topics in STEAM class (previously taught as Topics in STEM.)

Dr. Ashley Johnson from the Science Department co-presented a workshop with Jill Pieritz, Head of the Computer Science Department at Girls’ Preparatory School in Chattanooga, TN. They shared resources for teachers and schools interested in exploring the possibilities of the 3-D world — from scanning to printing to coding original designs. Their collection of resources can be found at www.tinyurl.com/teach3D.

Sasha Newman and Krista Cowan from the Arts Department presented a documentary film (below) that demonstrates STEAM skills and practices students experience as part of the set production process in mounting the annual school musical. Krista and Sasha discussed Madeira’s theater program and the benefits of incorporating technical theater as a STEAM course with two round table forums. The documentary video is available on our website.

The faculty were excited to listen to presentations by colleagues from around the country. Some of them learned about an elaborate makerspace from the administrators of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, others tackled the issue of “Student Lab Reports” using Design Thinking techniques, and all attended a panel about transgender students in all-girls schools. There were fascinating keynote speakers, such as Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, and Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA. All six Madeira faculty left the conference inspired to continue the ongoing work of developing Madeira’s STEAM curriculum. 

Academics Arts