High School Hosts S.T.E.A.M OPEN HOUSE
On Tuesday, October 27, Saint Francis High School hosted its STEAM Open House to showcase the newest technology being used in our classrooms and invite parents to experience how our students are advancing their 21st century skills.
What is STEAM?
Science: The core subject area of science plays a vital role in students’ understanding of how the real world works. We impart a robust knowledge base by the most effective means available. Saint Francis employs numerous hands-on and technologically advanced tools to help facilitate the growth of our students.
Technology: Our technology centers on computer applications and computer coding. These two aspects of computer science are crucial to the success of 21st century learners. Saint Francis emphasizes the four C’s: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration. These activities, coupled with technology, foster a culture of creators and innovators.
Engineering: Our innovative perspective on how students should experience engineering focuses on students solving real-world problems with student-created solutions. We implement a wide variety of tools and technologies to accomplish our goals. Students become well-versed programmers, designers, and builders.
Arts: Art Education at Saint Francis is about inspiring students to creatively think and design. Technology in the arts provides enhanced opportunities for student expression and innovation.
Math: Technology integration in math encourages the development of critical problem solving and independent thinking skills. Becoming solution makers is vital to the success of students in the 21st century.
STEAM at Saint Francis
At our STEAM Open House, we showcased eight different classroom settings to highlight how STEAM is being implemented at Saint Francis.
Mrs. Perkins’ classroom was full of activity as she exhibited some of our students’ favorite labs. The science labs provide a perfect opportunity for hands-on reinforcement of abstract concepts, particularly in Chemistry and Physics. Among the labs set up to explore were the Van de Graaff generator, which made parents’ and students’ hair stand on end as they discussed how we study static electricity; an inclined plane, which uses the same formulas students do in class to calculate coefficients of friction; an acid-base titration, which uses basic and acidic solutions to change colors of a solution in a flask; and paper chromatography, which shows one method of separating mixtures using the components of ink from a marker.
Using Google Apps has become a critical skill for Saint Francis students, and parents got a chance to see what their children are learning first-hand in Mr. Willoughby’s computer lab. He discussed with parents how students learn about the different features of each specific Google app (Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms) through various projects that allow them to explore and expand on their knowledge of these applications and develop their critical thinking skills. He also explained the new Coding HS project that has been added to the Computer Applications class that gives every student a basic understanding of and exposure to coding by the end of freshman year.
Since last year, Saint Francis has had video announcements every Friday morning. This year, Ms. Cuesta is teaching a Broadcast Journalism elective that gives students experience with the basic elements of preparing, producing, editing, and videotaping a television broadcast program. In Ms. Cuesta’s classroom on STEAM night, parents created their own broadcast that will be shown on the morning announcements November 6th. They also discussed the future vision and goals for the class, including more computers for editing and moving to live daily morning announcements.
In the library, Mrs. Butler and Mrs. Gerber demonstrated the ways technology has enhanced student research and review.Parents were introduced to our student database, Student Resources in Context, and our e-book collection, Gale Virtual Reference Library. They had the opportunity to see these resources in action as students are able to cite articles, download MP3s of the articles, or send a copy of each article directly to their Google Drive account. Parents also played an exciting round of Kahoot!, an interactive online review tool that can be used in the classroom to gauge student understanding.
In the Google Drive classroom with Ms. Donnelly, parents were able to ask questions and learn more about the benefits of their children using Google Drive as well as how to help them with their homework. Ms. Donnelly answered the Frequently Asked Questions about Drive and provided the parents with a quick reference sheet to Google Drive at Saint Francis.
The Engineering Lab was a hub of excitement as Mr. Graff demonstrated projects and materials from our newest tech space in the school. First, arcade games made and coded by our students using recycled materials and Hummingbird Duo microcontroller kits were on display. Parents and children alike had a blast playing the games! Mr. Graff also demonstrated how we are using a CNC machine to cut parts and pieces for robots and electric skateboards and how our students utilize 3D printers to create custom parts for their robots. Lastly, Mr. Graff explained our coding platforms and curriculum on codehs.com and Arduino IDE, which allow our students to learn complex coding in a fun and safe environment. The greatest benefit of these programs is a student’s ability to continue their learning beyond the coding unit and class assignments through a plethora of self-directed lessons on Java, Python, and SQL that students can complete on their own time.
Have you ever had the opportunity to talk to a cow? Well, in Mrs. DeSantis’s Computer Art Lab, we showcased how to create animated characters using our new software from Adobe Creative Cloud: Photoshop, Character Animator, and After Effects. Both students and parents were able to give life to characters, like the cow, designed in Photoshop by our PixArt students. The character animator tracks facial movements, lets the user record those movements, creates dialogue or a voice performance, and can trigger actions with the keyboard. The recorded animated character performances were then imported into After Effects, which is software primarily used for creating motion graphics and visual effects and allows users to animate, edit, and compose media in 2D or 3D space.
Math XL is a fully online supplement to classroom instruction that provides students with immediate feedback on work completed and study tools to help them practice and review for tests and quizzes. In the Academic Enhancement room, Ms. Cooney and Mr. Catlett showed parents how Math XL provides instant feedback for each question and how students have multiple resources available to them when understanding how to do each problem. Students are given four attempts to correctly complete each problem, and have been instructed to use the fourth try to ask teachers for help. Math XL also offers a Study Plan feature that updates based on student performance on assignments to help prepare for tests and quizzes. Many colleges use computer applications like Math XL. Our Saint Francis students are being well prepared for how they will experience math in college.
Thank you to all the parents who joined us that evening and to those who have made our STEAM Dream possible through their generous support and donations!
Couldn’t make it to the event? Here are some links to help you learn more STEAM at Saint Francis:
- STEAM Video: goo.gl/nQOUYh
- Drive FAQ: goo.gl/fqJWcO
- Library: goo.gl/joC7MF