Page 1

Integrating STEAM Fall 2016


Collegiate School has always provided a strong foundation in all academic disciplines, and in recent years the School has worked strategically to expand its JK-12 integrated curriculum related to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math).

“STEAM is about connectedness across disciplines,” said Collegiate’s Academic Dean Susan Droke. “It allows our students to become more comfortable with multiple ways of knowing and working with information.”


Whether learning how to code in technology class, how to build in engineering class, how to simulate a nomad’s journey in history class, how to virtually explore the cardiovascular system in anatomy class, how to recreate a Roman city in Latin class or how to design an aerodynamic airplane in science class, the incorporation of STEAM into various subjects helps students develop communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills in a real-world context — attributes that will be necessary for the higher education, and the career and life paths they ultimately pursue.











Lower School Lightbulb Moments it out. We’re trying to teach them that part of programming is solving problems.”

Collegiate’s youngest students begin their introduction to STEAM with age-appropriate projects for each grade level. Kindergarten-2nd Grade students learn simple coding using ScratchJr, a computer tool designed to teach young learners how to program the simplest commands using characters and stories. Coding teaches students how to become computational thinkers who develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems. Robotics is introduced in 2nd Grade as students build Lego robots. In 3rd Grade, students learn about simple machines as they design and build mousetraps that must work in tandem with other students’ mousetraps. They also design, create and build pop-up books, roller coasters and Rube Goldberg machines, all of which include the five disciplines of STEAM. “STEAM is in all of my classes,” said Lower School science teacher Kim Smythe. “I show the connections between [science, technology, engineering, the arts and math] all the time because they are in every lesson.”

In the spring of 4th Grade, students incorporate all of the skills they’ve learned since Kindergarten into a design that they’ll present during the grade level’s annual Innovation Expo, held in Burke Hall in the Lower School, and visited by students JK-3rd Grade. Among other activities, students use a Makey Makey, which turns everyday objects into a computer touchpad; build motors and robots to run machines, and conduct electricity to light up their creations. “It is a true culmination of everything they’ve ever learned,” said Mrs. Smythe. In past years, student projects showcased at the Expo have included a fortune telling booth, a Lego foosball game with robot-controlled goalie, a zoo with snapping alligators and an interactive fitness wall. “This is how it should be,” said Mrs. Smythe. “It should be hands-on and doing. How much fun is that?” The entire Lower School also participates in the Hour of Code, a worldwide effort launched to demystify code, show that anyone can learn the basics and broaden participation in computer science. The event, which occurs in December, reaches tens of millions of students in nearly 200 countries.

Third Grade students also move on to Scratch, a more advanced coding program, which prepares them for their continued work in robotics in 4th Grade, which prepares them as they head to Middle School. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their projects and work through any issues that arise. “We want them to be the creative force,” said Lower School technology teacher Karen Hurd. “And in some ways, we want to under-instruct a little bit because we want them to figure

Top left: Pop-up books made by 3rd Graders; Innovation Expo creation

“When science, technology, engineering, the arts and math intersect and students see the connection, that’s where the magic happens.” – Susan Droke, Academic Dean

Collegiate’s Summer Quest The program offered 16 STEAM-related camps last summer with 326 campers participating in the following sessions: Crafty Coding (Rising 2nd-4th Graders) Critter Coding (Rising K-1st Graders) Electronic Game Design: Platform Games (Rising 2nd-4th Graders) Full STEAM Ahead (Rising 3rd-5th Graders) MinecraftEDU: Let’s Build Collegiate (Rising 2nd-4th Graders) Robotics Boot Camp LS (Rising 2nd-4th Grade) 3D Printing (Rising 5th-8th Graders) Animate It (Rising 5th-8th Graders) Become an Entrepreneur: Enter the Shark Tank (Rising 5th-8th Graders) Electronic Game Design: Invader Defense (Rising 5th-8th Graders) Introduction to Virtual Reality I (Rising 5th-8th Graders) Introduction to Virtual Reality II (Rising 5th-8th Graders) Middle School STEAM: Aerospace Edition (Rising 5th-8th Graders) MinecraftEDU: Cradles of Civilization Robotics Boot Camp MS (Rising 5th-8th Graders) Web Building: Intro to Web Programming (Rising 5th-8th Graders)

Middle School Magic When students reach Middle School, they continue to build upon the skills they’ve acquired in the Lower School. They also have the opportunity to participate in FIRST Lego League with other Middle Schoolers or in FIRST Robotics with Upper School students, as well as try out various STEAM-related activities during the school day. These activities meet twice in a rotation and offer students the chance to explore additional coding and engineering opportunities using Inform, MinecraftEdu and Lego software.

also strives to help students think outside the box when it comes to the possibilities STEAM offers, including when students enter his learning environment. His room in the science building does not look like a typical classroom or even a lab. That is intentional.

“They were more engaged because it was real to them ... their understanding is more complete and lasting.”

“I want it to look like a startup and be an incubator for relationships and projects,” Mr. Bartels said. “I want to find out what students want to do and have us define STEAM by what we do.”

“We’re using Lego software because you can do a lot of – Carrie Thomas, Middle School history teacher Middle and Upper School advanced things with it and faculty members routinely because it’s Lego, the reach out to Mr. Bartels to express their interest in students know what to do,” said Dan Bell, Middle School collaborating on projects, and Mr. Bell has been instrumental Technology teacher. in implementing many of these initiatives. As part of his role, Mr. Bell also works with students and One such collaboration involves Carrie Thomas’ Middle School teachers to ensure they are up to date with the latest computer history class. She and Mr. Bartels brainstormed how she could and video software, including Google and Adobe products, to help her students better understand their study of Mesopotamia. enhance their learning in all classes. In addition, in his They employed MinecraftEdu so that students could enter a technology class, he challenges his 6th Graders to “do a 3D virtual world and, in effect, be the nomads forming their full-blown engineering, coding-specific project that’s very own civilization. Students chose where they settled, what type similar to what they might find themselves doing in First Lego of livestock they raised, and even whether to declare war on League,” he said. neighboring settlements or create peace treaties. Since the Last year, his students created a functioning conveyor belt. software did not include everything the student nomads The students worked in teams to design different sections of needed, several of Mr. Bartels Upper School students took the machine that had to work in concert with other teams’ suggestions from the history students to program the “game” sections, reminiscent of their simple machines lesson in to include clay, so they could make pottery and have tablets for writing. Lower School. In 2015, long-time science and robotics educator Daniel Bartels joined Collegiate as STEAM Coordinator for the Middle and Upper Schools, and has sought to foster collaborations with faculty members in every discipline. He

“This ancient world came alive and the students came alive with it,” Mrs. Thomas said. “They were more engaged because it was real to them. Now, their understanding is more complete and lasting.”

In Middle School French, students taught by Monica Johnston and Maria Benson have followed the lead of Upper School French students (See Upper School Mastery), in using virtual storytelling as a new avenue to explore language. In a virtual “game,” students visit areas in France and “live” in an apartment building where they identify the objects in the kitchen, for example, with the correct French vocabulary words.

In all classes, students are sharpening their critical thinking and communication skills and taking ownership of their classroom projects as they work together. “Every year, there’s been a lot less hand holding,” Mr. Bell said. “I attribute it to the Lower School being able to get all kids exposed to these STEAM concepts. By the time kids get to 9th Grade, they are able to hit the ground running.”

Clockwise from top left: Daniel Bartels instructs Middle School French students in virtual reality; creating code for robots; checking out the work of Torch 5804, Collegiate’s robotics team

Upper School Mastery In the Upper School, faculty members also engage with Mr. Bartels to expose their students to STEAM-related concepts. Val Siff approached Mr. Bartels about creating a virtual French world for her 9th Grade French II students to experience. Together, they came up with the idea of developing an apartment building in Aix-en-Provence in which the students would “live” for the year.

classroom to don virtual reality goggles and get a new perspective on what they’ve learned. The 3D Organon VR Anatomy software that Mr. Bartels recommended provides 4,000 realistic anatomical models and structures that allow certain areas to disappear, for a more in-depth view. “It’s almost like you can step into the body,” Mr. Privasky said. “It makes you look at the sciences in a brand-new way.”

“Anything that can make me a better teacher and make my delivery of French more accessible to the students, I want to try it,” Mrs. Siff said.

He envisions using similar software to teach his biology students about single cell versus multicell organisms, or to virtually examine a DNA strand.

To immerse themselves in the language, the students learn vocabulary words for different pieces of furniture and then, by writing code, retrieve each piece from the attic and move it to the correct room — all in French.

“There are so many possibilities to get them excited,” Mr. Privasky said. “I just want to bring the students an opportunity to explore a passion that they may have and maybe ignite something that they haven’t seen in themselves before.”

“The students really enjoy being a part of this new virtual world,” Mrs. Siff said. “It’s a lot of fun, but they also have to be accurate in the language.”


Once all the furniture has been placed correctly, the door opens to the outside where students will be able to visit 10 areas within the city. Two students, a 9th Grader in the French class, and a senior in Mr. Bartels’ class, assist with the coding. “The kids are very much engaged,” Mrs. Siff said. “It’s a new way to learn French that they’ve never experienced before and it seems like there is no limit to this.”

IN-DEPTH ANATOMY After studying the major systems of the body, the 32 students in Dave Privasky’s Human Anatomy class visit Mr. Bartels’

Last spring, Mr. Bartels approached Upper School Latin teacher Tyler Boyd about working together on a virtual reality project. They decided to have Mr. Boyd’s Latin IV class recreate Vindolanda, a town along Hadrian’s Wall. Using several professional-grade software programs, including Unity 3D, Terrain Party and ArcGIS, students paired off in teams to tackle the design of buildings and topography. Mr. Bartels made himself available for specific questions, but otherwise the students learned to use the software and ran with the project. “They started from nothing and blossomed,” Mr. Boyd said. “The whole concept was ‘Learn yourself.’”

“We are expanding the three Rs to include robotics, rockets and race cars.” – Daniel Bartels, Middle and Upper School STEAM Coordinator

covering a wide variety of topics, including abstraction, data and information, algorithms, programming, the Internet and the global impact of computing technology. As part of the course requirements, students must research a new technology innovation and describe its impact on society. “The students begin to ask how technology might affect the economy, the environment and the world around them,” she said. “It gets them to ask the broader questions.” If not pursuing this project, Mr. Boyd says his class would have been reading stories about Vindolanda, looking at pictures and trying to recreate it in their minds. Virtual reality, he says, ramps up the interest immeasurably. “It’s magical,” Mr. Boyd said. “We’re pushing our students to learn, to do, to make. That’s the key.”

BIOLOGICALLY-BASED SOLUTIONS In a new endeavor this year, teams of honors biology students in Sandra Marr and David Fahey’s classes are collaborating with Mr. Bartels on projects in which they take an environmental issue and develop a biologically-based solution. One student group is researching methods to restore coral reefs after coral bleaching, due to increasing ocean temperatures and acidification. Using AutoCAD software on computers in Mr. Bartels’ room, they are designing a submergible remotecontrolled device that can deliver calcium carbonate (or another chemical) to restore the pH of the ocean water in the immediate area of the affected reef.

In addition to STEAM connections in the classroom, students have the opportunity to join a thriving robotics team, coached by Mr. Bartels and Upper School science teacher Greg Sesny, which competed at the 2016 Robotics World Championships in St. Louis. The success of that team spawned an interest in rocketry, and three teams of 30 students interested in the area have been created. Upper School students have also built a soapbox derby race car powered by four carbon dioxide fire extinguishers, which will be featured at the Science Museum of Virginia for the state’s Hour of Code kickoff on Dec. 5. By building this foundation of STEAM-related learning in a real-world context in Lower, Middle and Upper School, our students will be equipped to face challenges down the road, says Mrs. Droke. “We want to develop expansive and inquisitive thinkers, and I am excited about the opportunities our STEAM initiative provides for our students to be fully engaged in the inquiry process,” she said.

“[He] is this amazing resource,” Mrs. Marr said of Mr. Bartels. “I don’t know how to think of that, but he does. He’s getting our students to think about technological answers.”

COMPUTER SCIENCE SURVEY Because of increased interest, the AP Computer Science Principles class expanded from one class to two this year, with 24 students enrolled. The course, taught by Upper School math teacher, Kristine Chiodo, is a survey of computer science

Top left: Upper School anatomy students using virtual reality; Robotics team coaches Daniel Bartels and Greg Sesny

Collegiate’s FIRST Robotics Team DID YOU KNOW?

In 2015-16, Collegiate fielded a robotics team for the first time since 2007. The newly revamped FIRST Robotics team, TORCH 5804, performed well beyond expectations as it earned a host of accolades and competed in the Robotics World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri. The team, coached by Daniel Bartels, Collegiate’s Middle and Upper School STEAM Coordinator, and Greg Sesny, Upper School physics teacher, earned the following awards:

■ Collegiate’s Rocketry Club

Winner - Chesapeake District/Hampton Roads Event

consists of three teams of 30

Rookie Inspiration Award - Chesapeake District/Central Virginia Event

students (two boys’ teams

Championship Winner and Highest Rookie Seed - Ranked 8th overall out of 132 teams in total points - Chesapeake District Championship

One of only 598 teams (out of 3,100 worldwide) qualified to attend FIRST Robotics Championship

One of 25 teams from Chesapeake District and one of 61 rookie teams worldwide qualified to attend FIRST Robotics Championship

Only rookie team to win more than one event at FIRST Robotics Championship

and one girls’ team). ■ Collegiate students begin

learning computer programming or “coding” in Kindergarten. ■ The Collegiate 2015-16

robotics team was its first since 2007. In TORCH 5804’s inaugural year, the team was awarded two rookie awards, placed 1st in the Chesapeake District Championship and competed at the FIRST Robotics World Championship. FIRST is an acronym that means “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” ■ Collegiate students

incorporate virtual reality in several classes, including anatomy and French.

103 North Mooreland Road / Richmond, VA 23229 / 804.740.7077 / Fax: 804.741.9128

Integrating STEAM