Scientists for Tomorrow€ Attend 5th Annual STEAM Conference at Northeastern Illinois University

STEM to STEAM: Take science, technology, engineering, and math – and infuse the arts. This educational concept indicates the role the arts play in creative innovation, which benefits everything from physics to painting, biology to dance.

This is the first year that Urban Gateways has partnered with the Scientists for Tomorrow program out of Columbia College Chicago; students at South Shore Fine Arts Academy and Greeley Elementary in Lakeview have been participating in Urban Gateways artist residencies that integrate STEAM concepts into arts learning.

On May 2 students from Greeley and South Shore attended the 5th Annual STEAM Conference at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. Teaching artist Bill Eller brought his South Shore Fine Arts students to participate in the day as learners, and teaching artist Sonja Henderson’s Greeley students were some of the youngest workshop presenters at the conference.

Here’s what Bill had to say about his students’ STEAM experiences:

“At South Shore, our STEAM Club youth’s learning has centered on the Scientists for Tomorrow module: The Physics of Sound & the Mathematics of Music. Students have already made a simple one-string (monochord) instrument with frets and a 4-key wind chime out of copper pipes. Now they’re each constructing an idiophone, an instrument like a xylophone except with copper pipes.

On May 2 we attended the STEAM Conference at Northeastern Illinois University to supplement the work we’re doing in the classroom. Twenty-one students (grades 4 to 6), 6th grade teacher Ms. White, my school co-facilitator Ms. Dossous, after school resource coordinator Ms. Royal, and one student’s grandmother all came along. After the inspiring talks and demonstrations by the keynote speakers, our students broke into smaller groups to go to different workshops.

My group’s first stop was the Turbo Mousetrap Car, led by the students and science teacher from Shields Elementary School. They learned about how to make a functional car without using a battery, just powered by a mousetrap. My students found the class fun and were happy that the presenters and helpers were all their same age.

After lunch we went to the next workshop – Circuit Monsters, led by students from Sandoval Elementary School. During this workshop we mixed chemicals together to make something like Styrofoam, then added small batteries and LED lights to make the monster’s eyes light up.

Some of the other workshops the other groups from South Shore Fine Arts Academy participated in were LED UV Light, creating their own UV LED Light night light; 54,000 Pictures, where they learned how to create a stop motion animation; Bring a Maze to Life, where students built and tried their hand at going through a life size maze…and many more. All my students were excited to tell me about what they had done.

Everyone had a great time – my student Ebony even won the grand prize in the conference raffle, a new Kindle. The South Shore students were excited about their day and even thought that they might become a Scientist for Tomorrow.”

Bill’s students in the Circuit Monsters workshop, with their completed mousetrap cars in the scene. (Great Urban Gateways T-shirts, ladies!)



Huge thanks to the NSF-ISE “Scientists for Tomorrow” Program from Columbia College Chicago and the “TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science” Program from Northeastern Illinois University for making this student experience possible!