Full STEAM’d ahead for future artists, engineers and scientists

Carter Zenner is creating a self-portrait of himself using aluminum wire, googly eyes and pipe cleaner. The sixth grader at Mountain Home’s Hacker Middle School is portraying the skills of American artist Alexander Calder, who made large, colorful metal sculptures, mobiles and stabiles.

“This is challenging,” he said. “You have to think how to be creative.”

Carter is part of the State Department of Education’s Future Design Academy — a three-month program centered around STEAM’d (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and design) skills. The program is focused on teaching students about STEAM’d careers.

“The tools students are learning opens their life to integration of disciplines and gives them hands-on learning,” said Peggy Wenner, the arts and humanities coordinator for the State Department of Education.

Carter and 10 classmates are working in a maker space filled with art supplies, nuts and bolts, electrical wires and computer software. Students who may aspire to be an engineer will build a junk-drawer robot. Future graphic designers will create a personal logo using 3D software and a 3D printer.

“Students are having fun, but they are being challenged,” Wenner said. “We want to bring the students to an understanding of what their life will be like when they go to look for a career.”

Wenner designed the academy and debuted it last year with the Boise, Middleton and West Ada school districts and Reuseum, a nonprofit STEM Center in Garden City that provides workshops for children. A group of 42 elementary students from Boise, Middleton, Kuna and Mountain Home are participates of this year’s academy. Students will meet weekly for three months at Reuseum to create and learn.

Students will complete weekly projects and will select their favorite work at the end of the academy to be displayed at JUMP in Boise on May 4.


Andrew Reed

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