STEAM and SEEDS are two collaborative initiatives that the Ammon School has put under the heading of Community Engagement/Experiential Learning.

STEAM and SEEDS are two collaborative initiatives that the Ammon School has put under the heading of Community Engagement/Experiential Learning—STEAM combining the arts (“A”) with science, technology, engineering and math and SEEDS (an acronym for Schools Engaging the Entire Development of Students) bringing sustainability and health education to under-resourced communities.

Tracy Hogan, Ph.D., associate professor, said, “STEAM @Adelphi is a DIY collaborative learning and making lab where the community gathers to explore, tinker, create and invent, using a variety of tools and materials.” The addition of “A” to STEM, she explained, integrates art and design as a way to “spark creative interplay between convergent and divergent thinking.”

The maker lab—built last year in Harvey Hall’s Room 104, with another planned for Swirbul Library—is designed as a collaborative learning space used to “explore, tinker, create and invent using a variety of tools and materials.”

The STEAM collaborative formed three years ago among colleagues—Cindy Maguire, associate professor of Art and Design Education, and three science educators: Dr. Hogan and Emily Kang, Ph.D., associate professor; and Mary Jean McCarthy, Ed.D., clinical associate professor—after they were asked to lead a workshop in Manhattan on STEAM-related projects for afterschool providers at Global Kids. The faculty members saw great potential to expand on their expertise as STEAM educators.

Currently, more than 17 faculty members are engaged in Adelphi’s STEAM Consortium, an interdisciplinary group coming together throughout the semester to share ideas and built capacity around STEAM initiatives on campus and beyond.

Maker participants use laptop computers, 3D printers, microprocessors and sensors, as well as basic tools and consumables, including paint, fabrics and recycled materials. Activities that might take place, Dr. Hogan said, include using conductive threads to illuminate clothing or other objects, prototyping or designing new products or using green screen, Photoshop and movie-editing software to produce public service announcements or programs.

Presently, the Collaborative Wall project, produced by students in Dr. Maguire’s Exploring the Arts course, hangs in the maker space. Students investigated different historical moments marginalized or left out of the dominant narrative and used digital technology and symbolism to create an interactive wall mural.

Faculty and others also are being urged to lead a workshop in their area of expertise, a form of interdisciplinary sharing. Last month, for instance, a student from the Educational Technology program, Ameenat Kadree ’17, taught participants the basics of Raspberry Pi, a credit card-sized microprocessor that can be used in various electronic projects.

The maker space also is being utilized for Adelphi courses that incorporate STEAM into the curriculum, professional development for K-12 teachers and workshops for K-12 students. Students and teachers from several public schools on Long Island and in New York City have utilized the STEAM space as a way to enrich the Adelphi campus visit. After mornings in a STEAM workshop, a campus tour and lunch at Post Hall are offered—all as a strong recruitment tool for area students, Dr. Hogan said.

Dr. Hogan emphasized that the maker space also aligns with the goals of Adelphi’s Momentum strategic plan. For example, it ties into Momentum’s initiatives on developing interdisciplinary, interprofessional and cross-disciplinary projects and it focuses on experiential, high-impact learning.

Moreover, the lab cultivates lifelong connection to Adelphi via alumni engagement. For instance, Lisa Pastore ’16, who majored in art education and minored in chemistry and is now pursuing a master’s at Harvard, is co-vice chair at Harvard STEAM, a consortium whose members include Brown, MIT, Yale, New School, Rutgers and others.

Both STEAM and SEEDS enhance existing partnerships. STEAM so far has partnered with Plainedge School District and the Parrish Museum in Water Mill, New York, where educators also are Adelphi alumni. For SEEDS, the first garden sites are in Hempstead, New York.

Planting Seeds for the Future

Meanwhile, the School Garden Initiative, also known as SEEDS, has been founded by Adelphi alumna Sharla-Renee Hart ’09, M.A. ’14, and Cynthia Proscia, M.A.’92, assistant professor with the Ammon School of Education’s Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management. This venture is designed to bring sustainability and health education to Hempstead elementary schools.

SEEDS, an initiative that involves some dirt, some seeds and a lot of teamwork, is all about putting the power to make healthy choices in the hands of the children in under-resourced communities. Hart began the project through her parish in Hempstead on Long Island.

“One of the visions that we have at the parish is improved quality of life for the residents of Hempstead as well as neighboring communities,” Hart explained. Her plan involved planting gardens in elementary schools and teaching the students to grow vegetables that they could then bring home and share with their families.

To help make her idea reality, she turned to her former professor, Proscia. The two then wrote up a proposal, raised funds, and reached out to several elementary schools. Island Harvest agreed to help establish the gardens and educational classes, and three schools are currently involved in the program. Now they have an advisory committee and are in the process of writing up state and national grants.

Hart said the initial SEEDS garden locations, all in Hempstead, are Franklin Elementary School, Barack Obama Elementary School and Jackson Main School.

Hart and Proscia hope to get even more schools involved, as well as to increase experiential learning opportunities for Adelphi students and allow them to contribute.

“We can have Adelphi students doing a few hours of fieldwork there each week,” Proscia said. “We can get TESOL involved; 86 percent of incoming students in Hempstead are Spanish-speaking or bilingual. The School of Education can get involved, and the School of Social Work.”

“What happened in the past six months is out of control,” she added. “We did not expect it to take off like this.”

“Food security is a part of building a healthy community,” Hart explained. Her initial goal was to tackle obesity, hypertension, and other health problems in the community. Now, she’s teaching methods that will impact families for generations.

Down the road, Hart said, the plan is to get more funding so that they can build greenhouses either on school grounds or nearby in the community.

Proscia added that things are continuing to come together to ensure the program’s ongoing success.

“Sharla-Renee is working on a website, and we’re branding,” she said. “It’s exciting to see it come to fruition. We’re seeing the fruit of our labors.”

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