The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 18, 2012

‘Full STEAM Ahead’!

BAF awards more than $55,000

— The Beckley Area Foundation has awarded 13 grants totaling $55,007 in its “Full STEAM Ahead” initiative.

BAF was the recipient of $50,000 from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. These funds were to be re-granted for projects that integrated the arts in the teaching of STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math).

Applications were accepted from Raleigh, Fayette, Webster, Wyoming and McDowell counties. BAF worked with the Arts Section of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History to promote the grant opportunity, assist grant applicants and make very difficult grant decisions.

“The proposals showed creativity, an eagerness to offer students new paths to understanding STEM courses, collaborative energy and the value of supplemental funds in our classrooms,” commented Susan Landis, executive director of BAF and chair of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

“In an effort to direct as much funding as possible to program delivery, the foundation did not use any of the Benedum grant to cover our administrative costs.”

Cicely Bosley, Arts in Education coordinator for the Arts Section of WVDCH, noted, “It was wonderful to see the quality and creativity of the requests for these grant projects. Anytime the arts are integrated into another area of learning, teachers and students benefit from impassioned engagement and diverse skill-building.”

Beckley Elementary School will use its STEAM award to supplement other grants that fund an extensive project called “The Science of Van Gogh.” The $5,000 BAF grant will allow students to create a mural for their school entryway.

Stanaford Elementary fifth-graders will create multilayered three-dimensional recycled cardboard relief sculptures using traditional drawing media and technologies such as digital cameras, scanners, software and a laser engraver.

Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade art students at Beckley-Stratton Middle School will incorporate technology, science, social studies and science through art. A series of art activities will focus on West Virginia history through identification of native plants, wildlife, West Virginia landmarks and notable West Virginia buildings.

Daniels Elementary School received $5,000 for a project that will allow fifth-graders to explore the process of developing an idea into an invention. They will conceive and construct a working model of a gadget that will help a small child perform a household task.

Students at Divide Elementary School and Midland trail High School in Fayette County will each host the West Virginia Dance Company for a multicultural dance performance and a student workshop. They will utilize principles of dance and movement to further explore the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef.  Another grant will offer the same experience for students at Hacker Valley and Diana elementary schools in Webster County.

The Liberty High School Fine Arts Department will use $5,000 to begin the process of building an audio/video recording studio; the project will integrate the arts in each of the STEM disciplines.

Students from all 10 public schools in McDowell County will benefit from a performance of the West Virginia Dance Company followed by workshops for teachers, parents and students. The history of coal mining and the effect of technology on this industry will be addressed.

Park Middle School eighth-grade science students will create pieces of jewelry through electroforming (plating an item with copper in an electrolytic solution). This will be a follow-up activity to a unit on chemistry.

The Piney Creek Watershed Association is collaborating with Raleigh County high school art programs and offering a poster contest called Posters for the Shed. Students will be encouraged to create 2-D works that engage and educate the viewer about environmental stewardship and watershed protection.

Stanaford Elementary School’s $5,000 grant will expand its on-going dance integration program which has been successful in using dance to help students master math concepts.  

After researching cell theory, students at Webster Springs Elementary School will observe, draw, label and illustrate plant and animal cells. They will also learn the techniques used in creating stained glass and faux stained glass before creating motifs of cells to be presented in an art exhibit.