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Toshiba Grant Supports STEAM Learning

A nearly $4,000 grant from the Toshiba America Foundation is supporting the concept of STEAM learning at John Gregg Elementary School.

   Teachers Kelly Dopp and Brooke Barker received a $3,395 allocation for “A Circus of Circuits,” a mobile art project that will get underway in April. It is a sixth-grade science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) collaborative which combines artwork and moving pieces and in the style of innovative artist Alexander Calder, who is best known for developing the idea of mobiles as kinetic, or moving, sculpture with the circus as his focal point.

   Dopp, who teaches art, and Barker, who instructs computers, are joining efforts to compare Calder’s use of movement in paintings with his use of movement in mechanical or motorized circus sculptures. Fifty-eight students will study simple electrical circuits and learn how electrical forms of energy can be transferred to other forms, such as light, heat, sound and motion. They will then explore circuits through the My STEM Deluxe Circuit Pack and use the engineering design process. Toshiba’s contribution will be used to acquire the circuit pack, Teknikio Makerspace Kit and paper circuit kits which include e-textiles, heat-sensing devices, embroidery lights, blinking lights and more. The students will evaluate how well their electric circuits showed movement and represented the circus, and finally they will create a Google Slides presentation of their circuit’s completion.

   “We’re going to research the famous artist who did kinetic sculpture and the students will learn how to wire circuits. We will use the Makerspace and circuit kits and the students will design a circus setting. It’s going to be art with technology applied and they must move or light up in some way,” Dopp added. “We will start the project around April.”

    It was the first time she applied for the grant and Dopp said everyone was excited to be chosen.

   “The district was working on a grant-writing committee and this was the first one I wrote. Mrs. Barker and I wanted to find a way to do a collaborative project that involved art and something STEM-based, and using circuits seemed to be a great way to incorporate it.”

   Barker noted that the project stemmed from activities in the school’s enrichment program.

   “When we took over the enrichment program, we realized how much the kids enjoyed the snap circuits. We have Fun Fridays and do activities and the snap circuits were popular,” she explained. “They made simple circuits and it triggered interest, so we said, ‘Let’s see if we can spark something in the kids in case they want to make a career moving forward.’”

   Barker was overwhelmed to receive the grant and said it will be a tremendous benefit.

   “We’re just a small school in rural Jefferson County, Ohio. I think it’s an awesome opportunity for the kids and I’m glad Toshiba is funding this.”

    John Gregg Principal Tammy Burchfield applauded the teachers for their forward thinking and said they work hard to inspire the kids.

  “The teachers are always trying to find more creative and relevant projects for our kids to be a part of,” Burchfield continued. “They always sacrifice their time for the kids and plan for hours, and it’s all for the benefit of our students. John Gregg is blessed to have them and we cannot wait to see the results.”

   Matt Specht, account representative for Toshiba in Canton, was equally thrilled to see the fruits of the children’s plans become a reality.

   “One of the things we love to do is give back to the community, so we when come and hear what they are doing it’s amazing,” he said.

   The Toshiba America Foundation’s grants fund projects designed by individual classroom teachers. Teachers are able to change the way they teach STEM subjects because the grant supports equipment for hands-on experiments and inquiry-based approaches to the curriculum. TAF was founded in 19909 with support from the Toshiba Corporation and the Toshiba America Group Companies and helps teachers make STEM learning fun and successful for grades K-12 in schools across the U.S. For more information, visit www.toshiba.com/taf.