Earlier this fall, Roland Park Country School unveiled several exciting new spaces on campus, including a recently constructed cheery and light-filled Lower School STEAM Hub. This redesigned space is adjacent to the Killebrew Library and connects the Junior Innovation Space with the new Lower School art room to fulfill Roland Park Country School’s vision of purposefully integrating each of the components of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) into the school curriculum for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“We are focusing on every content area to pair with design challenges and projects that have a real purpose to help students extend their learning beyond the classroom in a creative and meaningful way,” said Joe LePain, the Director of Information and Innovation at Roland Park Country School.
Aisha Bryant, the Technology Integrationist for both the Lower School and the 6th grade, is currently working with teachers to thoughtfully incorporate specific STEAM projects into their curricula, a collaboration which sparks creativity among everyone involved. The flexibility of the new hub will complement the classroom learning since it is more conducive for students of all ages to spread out and build, prototype, and experiment, bringing their imaginative ideas to life.
Planning for this cross curricular work is well underway. Later this fall, fifth graders in a world studies unit will build an architectural rendering from a country they are assigned, using an artistic medium of their choice. And early next year, third graders studying Japan in social studies will create woodblock designs in the art room and then use an etching tool in the Innovation Space to imprint their designs on the blocks.
For Holly McAslan, Preschool and Lower School Art Teacher, the new STEAM Hub is truly a collaborative environment that supports her work to facilitate children’s understanding of the elements and principles of design, whether that’s in the art room, homeroom or Junior Innovation Space. “The children respond to artistic mediums in so many positive ways, and encouraging purposeful creativity is the forefront of visual arts and design,” Holly said. “And we can always incorporate STEAM components in the visual arts to elevate the students’ learning.”
For example, kindergarten students are making collages using geometric shapes to create collages and free form shapes to make leaf prints. This project integrates math concepts and introduces the kindergartners to understanding the difference between geometric and organic or free form shapes. It also incorporates a lesson in science on the attributes of specific leaves.
Perhaps one of the best features of the Lower School STEAM Hub is that is provides a safe environment for girls to take risks, fail and keep trying. “They don’t have to get it right the first time,” said Aisha. “We want our students to be okay with not succeeding on their first attempt and having the confidence to not give up and try again.”
Roland Park Country School believes that young women who build each other up will thrive. There’s no hurdle too high for an RPCS girl because she has the collective support of her community lifting her toward her goals. While this spirit sets Roland Park Country School apart from other schools, it’s the effect on the graduates that’s so remarkable: Roland Park Country School students develop a profound understanding of who they are and how to lead together to impact the world.