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It's Pretty STEAMy in the Art Gallery Now Through January 11!
It's Pretty STEAMy in the Art Gallery Now Through January 11!

If you want to see the School's STEAM curriculum in action now through January 11, check in at main reception and head to the Anne Reid '72 Art Gallery. Last week, a fun and impressive exhibit of STEAM-based student innovations opened in the gallery. Jamming the half-hour reception on Tuesday, students and adults eagerly observed and tested the interactive displays, which will remain in place through the December break and into the new year. The Gallery is open to the public and all are welcome to explore the exhibit during school hours on days when classes are in session.

User-centered design thinking is at the heart of the innovations on display, which were developed to solve real-world challenges and user needs in multiple STEAM courses offered at PDS (along with a few independent projects submitted by students). The School's exceptional STEAM faculty team has developed a curricular approach that relies on facilitating students to empathize with end-users and their challenges, desires and needs, then ideate possible methods and solutions, prototype ideas into physical or digital form, and test their designs to observe, collect feedback and refine their efforts. Laminated STEAM lesson plan summaries accompany most of the exhibits, and are well worth studying, along with the innovations themselves, to better understand the student-led inquiry process.

Among the exhibit highlights:

  • An automated garden hydration process using Arduino programming, based on watering and habitat research
  • Arduino-program-based thermostat innovations
  • LED displays programmed to dim and brighten using multi-meters (volt-Ohm-milliammeter electronic measuring instruments that combine several measurement functions into a single unit, based on Ohm's law)
  • Eyewear designed using Adobe-based vector graphics that guide laser cutting and engraving
  • A series of drawing styles to facilitate design development, including point perspective, orthographic, isometric, mechanical, exploded view, technical packaging, and color material finish drawing techniques
  • Presentations on innovations of some of the most creative user-centered industrial designers, including Peter Behrens, Le Corbusier, Henry Dreyfuss, Luigi Colani, Charles and Ray Eames, and many others
  • Some pretty stunning athletic and other shoe designs, including digital and physical models, from a project that included Google-hangout sessions with Nike Jordan footwear designer Israel Mateo
  • A camera made for the differently abled, based on an engineering course
  • ipad-activated models of buildings designed to withstand earthquakes, accompanied by a civil engineering lesson
  • An inside look at processes for student presentations and project assembly, covering everything from defining written instructions to assembly instruction visuals, organization of materials, design aesthetics, degree of user interaction, professionalism of presentation and utility of the presentation instructions for users.

The STEAM Innovation exhibit was conceived of and installed by STEAM coordinator Jonathan Tatkon-Coker, with a focus on some of this fall's hands-on student projects utilizing circuits, computer programming, computer graphics, art, design and physical materials and engineering. As Tatkcon-Coker explains, "A key goal of the exhibit is to convey particular information about the excitement of STEAM innovation and make sure that the students are engaged with the possibilities. By showcasing this STEAM-related student work, we want to raise awareness not only among those at PDS but in the community beyond the School about what has been going on here and where we are going."

Congratulations to all student participants and STEAM faculty! Enjoy our Flickr album of STEAM exhibit reception photos and find more information about STEAM at PDS here. -Melanie Shaw