Full STEAM Ahead for Local Middle Schools

BY AMANDA MOSES


On October 10th, the principals of local middle schools Frederick Douglass Academy (FDA) VIII and Gateway Intermediate School (IS) 364 were awarded hefty STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) grants from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams while at an unveiling ceremony in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


At this event, Adams and New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unveiled plans for a STEAM Center to hundreds of educators. The facility is a part of Adams’ One Brooklyn Engineering Pipeline initiative (started in 2016), which is geared towards helping high school students gain experience in emerging technical professions, such as computer science, design, engineering, film and media.


Both local middle school principals (Nicole Fraser-Edmund of IS 364 and Chantal Grandchamps of FDA VIII) were presented gigantic (both in amount and physical size) checks to represent the amount of money they will receive in pre-packaged STEAM materials to be delivered later this year.
In October 2018, Adams allocated$5 million towards the Brooklyn STEAM Center and an additional$20 million in capital investments for STEAM education for more than 175 schools throughout the borough. Along with other Borough Presidents and City Council Members, Adams designated these in-vestments through a series of grants called Resolution A (Reso A) projects, offering school-specific capital improvements or enhancements for the New York City Department of Education. These grants can include upgrades to an auditorium’s sound and projection system, library upgrades, and new technology.


“This budget shows the world where Brooklyn’s priorities are: preparing our children for college and career success that will power the future of our city —STEAM power. This capital bud-get is helping to cultivate Brooklyn’s next generation of scientists, engineers, tech-nicians, architects, and inno-vators. This is about ensuring that our young people are empowered with the skills to compete in the global economy once they graduate from their studies,” Adams said in a press release.

IS 364 received $260,000 and FDA VIII was given $225,000 in STEAM resources. Both schools will receive STEAM carts filled with laptops, robotics, 3-D printers and a curriculum that strengthens education in technology. “The Borough President is very committed to STEAM Education and to being able to improve the technology in our schools,” Grand-champs said.


In addition, IS 364 applied for more interactive whiteboards (also called Promethean ActivBoards), desktop computers, and laptops. “This technology allows us to add a different dimension to learning. As we know children learn differently and anytime we can bring in more than just “Talk and Chalk” it adds to their stimulation and their environment,” Fraser-Edmund said.


While both schools do have STEAM mobile carts, they only have a small allocation of these mate-rials. They also do not have a desig-nated lab where these items can remain stationary and become a routine location for students to attend classes. “It should be really exciting when it comes. I’m looking to clear out a space to make it into a STEAM lab, so it would be a place where students can go tinker, build things, learn computer coding, and more,” Grandchamps said.


In addition to the STEAM pre-packaged materials and lesson plans, teachers and their principals will attend professional development classes so that they are familiar with their new tools.


A STEAM cart is a large movable workstation that contains a computer on the top section, and then several drawers filled with lap-tops and other materials. These carts are customized for their specific usage. For example, if a teacher is using the STEAM coding curriculum they will have access to special programs within their own desktop as well as control over the students. The instructor is able to monitor the students’ laptop usage and control their home screens. The educator also has the ability to share their desk-top screen with the students so that they could individually see what steps are needed for write out computer codes or building a robot.


“It’s great anytime you can enhance the quality of education that you are bringing to the children, especially in this age of STEAM. You want to be able to bring them lessons in an authentic way by actually showing them through the materials and curricu-lum,” Fraser-Edmund said.


Both principals are looking for-ward to their students participating in afterschool STEAM programs once the materials arrive. They are especially excited to have their students enter competitions in robotics building and using the 3-D printer to create race cars.


Photo courtesy of Chantel Grandchamps