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Students warm up to STEAM at Crafton Elementary

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Crafton Elementary Principal Jacie Maslyk always believed the STEAM Studio at her school was a big deal.

Now she's finding out it could be an even bigger deal.

The school's studio, in which students create projects based in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, recently was featured in a Sprout Fund video highlighting regional outlets for children to learn through technology and creativity.

The video, called “Kids+Creativity: Building a Regional Learning Network,” also featured Carnegie Mellon's Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment institute; the Carnegie Museum of Natural History; and Hip Hop on L.O.C.K., a mentoring and arts education program.

“It's a really neat video clip, and we were very proud to even be asked to be in it,” Maslyk said. “It's sort of our 10 seconds of fame.”

Crafton Elementary's STEAM Studio opened in the fall after Maslyk secured a $20,000 grant from the Grable Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation over the summer. The grant enabled the district to set aside a dedicated space for STEAM work and purchase equipment such as K'NEX, snap circuits, iPads and more to use in the room.

The idea, Maslyk said, was to help students learn through hands-on work and begin to show them possible career fields at an early age.

Along those lines, a group of students from the school were scheduled to visit Carnegie Science Center earlier this week for the SciTech Festival. The festival featured educational programs, workshops and exhibits in the areas of science and technology.

Maslyk said it would give the students an even greater look at how STEAM subjects relate to many different careers.

“It's kind of taking the fun things we're doing and showing them theres a real-world application to that,” Maslyk said.

Maslyk was recently named to the advisory board for MAKESHOP at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh — an area where children and adults can create projects in woodworking, circuitry, animation and more. Maslyk said the board would be looking at ways to make MAKESHOP mobile and transport it to area schools.

More than that, Maslyk said she hopes to see the STEAM Studio at her own school continue to grow. She said students in third through sixth grades were using the room during lunch periods, and more teachers were taking their classes in for projects.

The room is even gaining notoriety outside of Pittsburgh, as Maslyk recently received a phone call from a representative of an Illinois school district looking to improve its own STEAM offering.

“I was shocked,” Maslyk said of the phone call. “But (I was) so happy that (with) the stuff that we have going on in our building, the word is spreading.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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