Digital Arts: Support from our community

 

Education [07/10/2016] – Page 3

Enhancing STEM with STEAM

Incorporating the arts and humanities into science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Below is an excerpt from an article by Casey Bower in the Baltimore Sun on July 10, 2016. With support from Ken Jones, Associate Professor of Art and Design at HCC, we were able to add two staff members to work with our members on developing skills in the digital arts. The full article can be found here: http://marketplace.baltimoresun.com/baltimore-md-features/special-section/Education/07-10-2016/page-1

The discussion of relationship and influence gains hands and feet as Harford Community College (HCC) design students, Sara Cantler and Harry Schultz of the Visual, Performing and Applied Arts (VPAA) division plunge head-first into helping K-12 students close the DSCN0242achievement gap in local Boys and Girls Club (BGC) STEM programs.

Recently, The BGC of Harford County launched a Digital Arts (DA) initiative under the vision of STEM Education Director Susan Ciavolino. The goals of this initiative are to give kids a creative outlet and coping strategy for self expression, to allow for digital art exploration as a potential career path and as an avenue for learning a broad range of creative, critical thinking and technical skills.

Ciavolino states, “Learning to overcome obstacles and actively seek out knowledge to complete a task are essential skills to success in whatever field one eventually chooses to pursue. It is our intention that participating in our DA program is another way to learn that skill.”

Cantler and Schultz were both enrolled in an HCC graphics design course last fall, led by Associate Professor of Art and Design Kenneth Jones, where they were first offered the opportunity.

Research suggests and both Jones and Ciavolino believe that art and design draw out the DSCN0220creative learner and critical thinker inside all of us and should not be viewed as “special” or “extracurricular.” To Jones, art is both “challenging” and “enchanting” and the key is “… to be able to conjure this spell – this magic – to enthuse students to think in new and innovative ways and to present the benefits of taking risks, starting and sustaining honest, open conversations about anything they confront or can imagine and connecting it to others through social reform.”

Schultz rotates between all age groups K-12 creating practical lesson plans, demonstrating how to use various computer programs, and helping students create logos, stylized designs, posters, animations and even video games. He believes the VPAA has rounded his foundation of artistic fields showing him that everything is interconnected, including the STEM disciplines.

“For example,” Schultz illustrates, “art often serves a practical function in things like industrial design and engineering, or that music can allow recognition of patterns and can be expressed mathematically, or that training in theatre develops communication and teamwork skills.”

DSCN0358[1] (1)Cantler also spends her time teaching digital arts in STEM lab rotations at three BGC locations following “Power Hour,” a time where students power through homework with problem solving help from available staff. She considers her time at the BGC “the most beneficial thing in [her] life to date,” stating, “It makes me feel the proudest when I hear, ‘Wow! This is really cool,’ or having them go to one another and say, ‘Look what I made.’ Seeing them discover an ability, and having them create; that is the most rewarding thing about working with the Boys & Girls Clubs.”

Last year, Raytheon, a global technology company that supports military and civilian government agencies, donated $5 million to the BCG America, the national organization, to develop Centers of Innovation (COI) that support STEM education over the next few years. Of the 4,200 clubs across the country, 100 of them are projected to open these centers by 2020, housing 3D printers and even 4D computer modeling.

The Aberdeen Club was remodeled in late 2015 as part of the COI initiative. They were also able to hire both Cantler and Schultz, purchase cameras, include Photoshop training and purchase color printers for the Club members. But initiatives like these will always be incomplete without a relational investment. “Relationships inspire kids to ‘stay the course’ to graduate and purse a ‘great future’ where they grow into productive, responsible, caring citizens,” Ciavolino states.

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About Harford Boys and Girls Club

STEM Education Director Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County
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