HUDSON FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On a sunny Thursday morning, there was more commotion outside Hudson Falls Intermediate School than one might expect in the middle of the summer. The students there had a lot to show – from Lego-based robots crawling across a drawing of Glens Falls’ Centennial Circle, to works of painted and watercolored art made by students learning how to express themselves.
The Hudson Falls STEAM Showcase is a chance to show what students have learned across a three-week summer education program. It’s not summer school, and doesn’t fill in school credit requirements, but instead acts as a way for students with a passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to explore those activities, hands-on. It’s also a chance for teachers to show district parents what their kids have been up to.
“The purpose of this game for our students is eye contact,” explained acting teacher Sarabeth Mason, as her students prepared to demonstrate acting games. “We talk a lot about that with kids, making sure that the people onstage are looking at each other in the eye, because otherwise, you don’t know what’s going on.”
Mason’s students played “Zip, Zap, Zop,” a game where the student designated to start will “pass the energy” by pointing their hands at the student to one side, saying one of several keywords as an indicator of what happens next. Everyone in the circle has to stay engaged and ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
In its 11th year, the Hudson Falls Summer STEAM Summer Enrichment Program is still growing. This year, the program expanded to encompass 1st-grade students, and runs up to those entering sixth grade.
Some teachers use the STEAM banner to explore important issues relevant to kids’ lives and mental health. High school teacher Trishia TenEyck ran a program called “Love Your Selfie,” which uses selfies, mindfulness, daily journaling, yoga and more to encourage and grow self-esteem in girls.
“Right now for girls, they see a lot of social media, and it’s not reality – and they don’t know that this young. It’s about teaching them what actually happens when people post these things on Instagram and social media versus what really is reality, and trying not to compare themselves to those things,” TenEyck said.
Many students start one year and never stop. This year’s first-graders had two programs – “Fun with Food” and “Adventures in STEAM” – for their first year. The school has already heard some express interest in coming back next year. On the flipside, high schoolers who have aged out of the program come back and volunteer, time and time again.
Educational Technology Director Christine MacPherson, who runs the program, has a background in the arts. Her goal in making sure that it’s STEAM, not just STEM, represented in the summer program is certainly rooted in some amount of personal experience as a former art teacher. More than that, though, it comes from an understanding of the presence of artistry within all of the other categories that STEAM covers.
“As a former art teacher turned into a technology director, I strongly believe that technology has a creative element – not just in the visual arts,” MacPherson said. “You can find it with our robotics team. You saw them drawing their communities and driving robots through those communities. That creative component is really important.”