Students gain STEAM skills

NILES – Local middle school students are gaining extra skills in the sciences and performing and visual arts as part of the annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics program.

STEAM Excel is a cooperative program, among Trumbull County Schools and the Trumbull County Educational Service Center, that provides students with an opportunity to develop their academic and artistic talents in the disciplines of technology, art, dance, drama, and music.

Michele Krisher, supervisor of gifted and talented services for TCESC, said 90 children in grades fifth to eighth take part each Wednesday for the entire school day in Niles in various programs.

The program, which is offered the first semester of the school year through mid-January, focuses on supporting the development of 21st century skills such as critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication

“This is an educational opportunity approved by board of educations of all the participating school districts,” Krisher said.

Children take three-hour class in their major area in the morning then lunch and a short performance period where students showcase what they are learning and then spend the afternoon in a minor area.

Krisher said children can do a combination of classes from computer coding and robotics to dance, art and drama.

She said the program is offered only for first semester due to testing in second semester of school year.

Krisher said the program originally started as Arts Excel and then got more science and math components to become STEAM Excel.

“This is the 21st century, and we needed to also integrate the the STEM components,” she said.

Some students have been able to attend all four years in grades 5-8.

“There are students who may have a passion for the performing arts. They are good academic students also, and this an extracurricular area being provided that they may not have at their own school,” Krisher said.

Liam Kerr, 10, fifth grader at Hubbard Middle School, said this is his first year taking part, and he chose art and computers.

“I use my free time to sketch and draw. I like to use computers,” he said.

He took part in a program when he was in third grade called STEAM Explore program for younger children.

In art, Kerr is making sculptures and drawing and in computer coding solving puzzles by doing different codes

Computer instructor Jordan Cole said the students are learning are using computers and also LEGO robots.

Computer instructor Karen Forsch said the students enjoy learning to program on the computers.

Georgio Frazesko, 14, eighth grader at Howland Middle School, said he chose dance which also includes a musical concert.

“It is a fun class. I combined dance with drama,” he said.

Ian Pack, 10, a fifth grader from Champion Middle School, said he does gymnastics and had some of the background already learned for dance.

Addison Owens, 10, fifth grader from Girard, said she likes how she is being taught dance and drama.

Caroline Cappuzello, 11, a fifth grader from Howland, said she had done drama and dance which are her favorite areas.

Tamara Sigler, art instructor, said students learn basic art skills in drawing, sculpture and painting.

“When I have three hours I can go more in depth with the art. The class in the afternoon has less time. With them I try to touch on the basic skills in art” Sigler said.

Sigler said all the classes let students express themselves and communicate visually.

Krisher said the finale of the program in mid-January will allow students to display their artwork and perform. The event will be held at Niles McKinley High School.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com