Sharon Springs Central School will be adding an extra letter to STEM when it hosts its first annual STEAM Expo Thursday, March 24, 3-4:30pm in the Old Gym.
STEM is an acronym for grouping science, technology, engineering and math skills together in the classroom, something schools have been doing for about a decade, explained SSCS English teacher Tom Yorke.
STEAM adds the arts-everything from artwork to filmmaking to the performing arts-into the mix.
"There's so much overlap here and by including the arts, STEAM includes more students," Mr. Yorke said.
"It's definitely the trend we're seeing in professional development and for a school like SSCS, it especially makes sense."
That's because of the district's success with its iPad project, said Superintendent Pat Green, but not necessarily for the obvious reason.
Something like the upcoming STEAM Expo, Mr. Green said, showcases what students and teachers can do with their iPads-not the iPads themselves.
"That's been the point of the iPads all along," he said. "They're tools to learning, not the end themselves. We want students to be using them seamlessly day in and day out, but they still need to understand the skills behind them."
Among the entries in the STEAM Expo-students had to fill out an application and be sponsored by a teacher-are: "Robotics at SSCS," "3D Printing at SSCS," and "SSCS: An Apple Distinguished School."
But there will also be entries featuring FFA, FBLA, Schoharie County Youth as Leaders, "Music as Therapy" and the Drama Department's fall production of "Aladdin Jr."
Presentations will run simultaneously and though at first glance it may look like SSCS's old Science Fair-there are also entries on "Exothermic Reactions" and "Freezing Point Depression to Make Ice Cream," Heather Bivins, a Family & Consumer Science teacher, said there will be more a feel of collaboration and engagement and less one of competition.
"I think there's more an idea of showcasing strengths and interests," Ms. Bivins said.
"We want students to want to go up to maybe even younger students with different interests and ask questions like 'How did you do that?' or 'How does that work?' And then learn from that or be inspired by it."
Parents too, said math teacher Ben Jacaruso, the youngest member of the STEAM Expo team, who pointed out that even when he was in high school, things like robotics and 3D printing were all but science fiction.
"We get a lot of support from families and the community and the Expo is another way for them to see what their kids are doing here and to ask questions-of us or from other students-and realize how unique we are," he said.
The STEAM Expo is open to the public and entries are still coming in.
Sponsors include Sterling Insurance Company with support from the district's Verizon Innovative Learning Schools grant.
Beforehand the STEAM Expo, during regular school hours, students will also be participating in a Career Day.