Quest students putting the art into STEAM projects


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Quest Elementary teachers Kelly Parker, left, and Katie Caruso have combined to teach a new course called STEAM that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Students at Quest Elementary School have been learning this year that art is about more than just drawing a pretty picture.

Art teacher Kelly Parker and STEM teacher Katie Caruso have combined their classes for a new class called STEAM, which teaches students about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics and how they all go together.

“I think they typically think of art as crafts, galleries, photography and that kind of thing,” Caruso said. “In this way, they see the design component of it.”

Students in grades kindergarten through sixth have been working on projects throughout the year that not only incorporate all the elements of STEAM, but also teach them valuable lessons about collaboration and communication.

In second grade, students did a project on bat habitats.

“We discussed different species and their habitats and then we looked specifically at bats,” Parker said. “They were able to create their own individual bats, and then as a team they worked to create a habitat that fit certain criteria that was given.”

Third graders discussed endangered animals and looked at honeybees. Students worked in teams to build a honeycomb and created a clay bee while also learning about polygons and different shapes.

The fourth-grade project centered on beach erosion. Students studied and drew art about different types of weather and then drew or designed a barrier.

“That’s a good example of where we have the engineering process, and then we follow it up with an individual art project where they will create a clay sea-life creature,” Parker said.

By working together in groups, the teachers are trying to give their students the kind of collaborative skills that can be used throughout their life. Part of that means making sure everybody gets to take on a leadership role so that all students have a voice and there isn’t just one person dominating the group or sitting back and letting everyone else do the work.

“I think we’ve done a really good job of designing it where they have roles within their group and they rotate those roles,” Parker said. “Really, they kind of run the show. We just kind of facilitate that.

“When we do have a student that’s trying to take on the role of somebody else, we can kind of step in and have them work that out. But having that set up really does help keep from having one person take over the project and others just sitting by.”

Quest students will put some of their STEAM artwork on display at an art show that will take place Jan. 13 through 27 at the Melbourne Mall.

There also will be a Science Fair and art competition March 11 to 13 at the Melbourne Auditorium. Quest will have nine students who took first place in the December Science Fair event competing at the district level.

Those nine students are fourth graders Charlie Stevenson, Ava Eagle and Gabriel Bordner; fifth graders Emma Collins, Alyse Reyier and Erin Lynch; and sixth graders Hannah Keller, Brayden Doolittle and Scout Richards.

So far, Caruso and Parker say the students have reacted well to the new class and the flow of teaching is even smoother than they first imagined.

Each of the projects the students work on comes with a budget so there is always problem solving involved and always a sense of questioning how a project could be even better than its original form.

“If we can teach them how to be critical thinkers, I think that benefits them in every aspect of life,” Caruso said. “If we can help get them to that spot, then I think we’ve struck gold, really.”