STEAM at Terra State

Two boys test their skill in the MaKey MaKey-inspired game developed by students in the Computer Information Systems capstone class.

The Student Activities Center at Terra State was filled with interactive displays in what organizers called, “Explore the World of STEAM,” which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The event attracted about 100 children from preschool through middle school. They experienced hands-on activities involving rockets, airplanes, computer technologies, art, math and science.

Stacey Pistorova, Ph.D., coordinator of the Early Childhood Education program at Terra State, and the students in her program took the lead on developing the event, but many other departments and programs got involved as well. Lisa Aaron of the Clinical Laboratory Science program, Michelle White of the Mathematics program, Michael Smithback of the Science program, students in the Early Childhood Education program and students from the Terra Association of Future Teachers (TAFT) were among those involved.

Also, several students in Haley Crabtree’s Computer Information Systems capstone class developed a game based on simple computer programming. Using a technology called, MaKey MaKey, developed by students at MIT, Crabtree’s students used small circuit boards and aluminum foil to make a ball toss skill game. According to the MIT website, “MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century; turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the Internet. It's a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering and everything in between.”

“It’s brilliant because it’s a lot of technology but anyone can use it,” said student Aaron Williamson, of Clyde. “This was really a fun project.”

Crabtree was pleased with the work her students put in.

“They did all of the research,” she said. “Part of the challenge was to program their own game.”

Sonja White, a student from Tiffin, enjoyed the experience.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this and it was great to see that we could put what we learned to good use. It really helps get your creative juices flowing.”

Pistorova received lots of positive feedback from the children and families who attended.

“It just goes to show that when programs collaborate, great things will happen,” she said.

This event was the kick off to a series of events TAFT and the Early Childhood Education department, in collaboration with other departments at Terra State, hope to continue next fall and spring. 

“We plan to collaborate on four professional development opportunities for local educators throughout the academic year focused on STEAM,” Pistorova said. “The series would culminate with another STEAM event in the spring where the educators would design and provide their own STEAM experiences for children preschool through middle school at Terra State.”

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