Absecon, NJ 6/13/2015 - For several years now, there has been a push in our educational system for a larger focus on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields. Absecon schools have not only embraced this, but have taken it one step further. They have added an artistic element to it and have been moving “full STEAM ahead”.
This past Thursday was STEAM day at H. Ashton Marsh Elementary School. Instead of treating this as a separate subject area, the school has instead chosen to take a multi-disciplinary approach and integrate STEAM into all class projects. The hallways of the school showcased these projects such as leprechaun traps the students engineered, poster boards displaying the results of bubble-ology experiments, along with many other creative activities. As you walked the halls admiring the creativity and work of the students, you can hear laughter and fun in the distance coming from the gymnasium.
Following along with the districts approach of incorporating STEAM into classes, the Physical Education teacher, Douglas Scholder, decided to follow the lead and do the same with his classes. In addition to the increased focus of STEM, there has also been a national focus on increasing youth physical activity, not only because of the numerous health effects, but also for the effect it has on increasing learning. Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark, refers to exercise as “Miracle-Gro for the Brain”. Research into this field shows that exercise can support learning and memory function as well as increasing new brain cell growth. Because of these findings, Scholder partnered with the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Rowan University and Make & Move Club, a nonprofit afterschool program and summer camp. Together they developed several games that focused on STEAM, getting kids moving, and having fun.
Exercise boosts cognitive skills, concentration, attention, and classroom behavior. “Exercise not only builds healthy bones and muscles, decreases the risk of obesity, and chronic disease”, says Dr. Gregory Biren of Rowan University, “but it also improves academic achievement, grades, and standardized test scores. This day exemplifies our Sports Science K-20 program vision, “for all youth to be inspired to care for the body through understanding the science behind physical activity, nutrition, and health”.
The students participated in a total of three STEAM related fitness games. Quick Draw, STEAM Race, and Tag & Learn. By combining both STEM components and physical activity together, Scholder hopes to give his students the right environment and tools they need to succeed.
“We are ecstatic to be able to bring this type of programming to the schools,” said Joshua Barreiro, Executive Director of Make & Move Club. “We are committed to finding ways to help young people become more active and learn the skills necessary to excel in the 21st century. Make & Move’s mission is to connect with youth through STEM, play and fitness, and events like this showcase how interconnected physical activity can be with STEM and learning.”