Gathering Up STEAM

BY Brandy Jackson

Nauset Regional Middle School

Project Description

STEAM is the integration of Art into traditional STEM education. In the 2016 school year we are piloting an interdisciplinary STEAM program the connects upcycling school waste to reduce the environmental impact of feeding the world. We will also look at the importance of choosing plants native to the region and how that supports the local food web.

Our vision is to show that a garden can grow anywhere and can be made out of many materials. Students will use sustainable gardening methods including drip gardens, pallet vertical gardens, tower gardens, windowsill gardens, and even learn the process of preserving foods. We will also showcase how flower gardens that are planted for aesthetic reasons can follow responsible/sustainable guidelines so that they support the native food web.

Students will upcycle some of the most common materials that are found in landfills to create new usable products. Many of the products will be small take home products, but they will also create a large scale vertical garden and develop at least one product that can be made from recycled plastic using 3D printing.

Standards covered in this problem based learning unit are from the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Frameworks, the Next Generation Common Core Science Standards, the Common Core Standards for Language Arts, and standards covered in mixed media art courses.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

Students will use a variety of materials and design methods to design vertical gardens that adopt sustainable practices of reduced water and fertilizer usage. To complete this goal they will complete the design process using circuits, drip irrigation, programming, microprocessors, upcycled containers and 3D printed parts. Students will showcase what they are learning through a digital blog and in products sold through the farmers market.

At the end of the year we will showcase our vertical rain garden during a community art show called “Go Native” to be held at the Orleans Fire House, Parrish Park, and Theresa’s way in downtown Orleans. The largest project is a wall garden that will be watered from rain drainage. If the prototype garden is successful, it will be permanently installed as a wall garden in at the back of the Chamber of Commerce building.

Benefit to the students and the school

The 2016-2017 program is based on an after school extension program that was run last year. Students from the MakerSpace were tasked with developing an outdoor art instillation. By the end of the year, the program included projects from 3 after school clubs, 3 classes, participants from all 3 grade levels, and performances from the music department. It showcased to the community how by including Art in the STEM education offerings we were not only teaching students about the sustainability issues facing Cape Cod, but that we are also investing in the culture that makes Cape Cod such an interesting place to live. We worked with the Chamber of Commerce, Orleans Cultural Center, Orleans Cultural Development. Orleans Pond Coalition, Care for Cape and Islands, and Coastal Studies in developing the art exhibition. By connecting students to so many community organizations, we are also giving them more positive adult relationships which is one of the main indicators of preventing adolescent misbehavior.

This year we want to grow the program so that more students are actively involved, so we have woven the curriculum through 4 different curriculum areas. It is our belief that students involved in problem based learning not only cover the standards at a higher level-but also are able to apply the lessons learned in school to their real lives. We hope that by publicizing the PBL program more schools will adopt this exciting way of learning and teaching.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

The project begins during the first term as we learn about different gardening techniques with the greenhouse
Students will begin prototyping the circuitry and engineering process for developing a rain garden.
Jan-Feb Test the multitude of vertical garden styles and then choose the best design for installing permanently.
Mar-April Film documentary of how to build a vertical/sustainable garden
May-Create advertisements for “Go Native” art show.
June- showcase all of the STEAM projects and art extensions during the “Go Native” art show.

The files uploaded are from last years Outdoor Art Show-“Ocean Debris-It is a Whale of a Problem”.