(Pictured: A Glenburn student looks through the telescope at the Star Party.)
Establishing a culture of creation, innovation and hands-on learning is becoming a focal point at Glenburn School. The driving forces toward that goal are a couple of long-time educators – Technology Integrator, David Davis, and Technology Director, Ken Worster. Last year the administration implemented a plan to repurpose a science lab to house materials for a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Lab. Worster advocated for functional space for technology creation since the one-to-one devices had made the traditional computer lab unnecessary. Davis credits his administrative team at Glenburn for its support of this initiative and feels “fortunate that [his] administration had the vision of technology integration” in order to bring this plan to life.
The STEAM Lab consists of several technology tools including a laser cutter, green screen, a fleet of iPads, a recordable microscope, over a dozen 3-D printers, codable robots, and more. Davis and Worster’s hope is to establish the lab as an integral part of the curriculum for educators. Worster mentioned that the immediate goal is to have teachers “looking at their content and bringing it to David in a way where they can have that conversation about how they can integrate our technology.”
Even in the Lab’s infancy, Davis is already seeing its impact in the classrooms, most notably in the sixth and seventh grade English Language Arts classes. In those classes, students have been able to dive deeper into their reading by designing and printing 3-D objects or characters from their books, by recreating scenes with green-screen video, and by etching “plaques” with the laser cutter that outline the author’s biography.
Additionally, Davis and Worster envision enhanced student engagement through the STEAM Lab by incorporating it into science classes across the school. Davis integrated an astronomy theme and tiered the work for the various grade levels. Students in kindergarten through second grade used the online platform Wixie to design constellations that were then etched with the laser cutter, students in third through fifth grade also used the laser cutter to design the phases of the moon, and finally, sixth through eighth grade students created a 3-D model of a footprint that incorporating each student’s constructed quote acting as if they were to be the first ones stepping onto Mars.
Davis and Worster concluded the unit by coordinating with the Challenger Learning Center and the Versant Power Astronomy Center at the University of Maine to host a “star party” outside at the school. The night was a huge success with over 200 family members attending. It allowed students the chance to stargaze with a telescope which Worster noted was the first time for most of them.
Even with the initial success of the STEAM Lab, Davis and Worster know that it will take time for the innovative culture to spread throughout the school. While they admit the program is not without its wrinkles, they are hopeful that a steadfast dedication to technology integration will create breakthroughs for their staff. Davis knows that it pays off to start small and have it build from there, “If I could just get [the teachers] there once or twice, it will take on a life of its own.”
This story was written and coordinated by MLTI Ambassador Rob Dominick as part of the Maine Schools Sharing the Success Campaign. To learn more, or to submit a story or an idea for a story, email email@example.com.