The middle school STEAM program consists of several lab areas that make up a separate wing in the basement of the school where students can conduct hands-on activities. The STEAM wing consists of $100,000 worth of equipment from a local grant. The actual construction of the wing was done in-house by the facilities department.
“That’s the future of tech ed.,” said David Gaignard, unified arts instructional leader and communication technology teacher. “The next movement is to integrate the arts.”
Gaignard said the labs will cover multiple areas from manufacturing, robotics, engineering and technology to arts and music.
Beginning in sixth grade, students will participate in the technology, arts and music clinic. In eighth grade, students will have more choices based on their interests and will be able to carry their STEAM education into high school.
“Students are coming up to the high school and they explored a little bit in middle school but not to the extent we want,” Gaignard said.
The STEAM lab will allow students to explore more and easily transition into the high school programs. Gaignard said the concepts will also prepare them for jobs after high school.
“In Connecticut we have a huge demand for the manufacturing industry,” he said.
He added that STEAM labs are just starting to develop in schools around the state.
“It’s out there but I don’t think it’s prevalent in Connecticut,” he said.
U. S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty recently visited Maloney High School in Meriden to hear from students about the STEAM program there. Other schools participate in the STEM program usually at the high school level.
Plainville middle schoolers have been enjoying Makerspace, a program that encourages exploring creativity, which kicked off last year.
The area elementary schools are also looking at similar programs with Toffolon already using Makerspace.
“The more we can provide kids an environment that’s highly exposed to science and math the better,” Brummett said. “I’m blown away by all it teaches them.”
The labs will be up and running for the start of the school year.