Innovation in Action

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Day of Innovation Graphic, Join us November 16, 2009
Virtual Brainstorming Sessions
Monday, November 16, 2009
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

We'll pose questions, tackle problems, and toss around ideas and possible solutions for issues affecting our region. Get involved from your own desktop! Or join us on campus at one of the brainstorming kiosks available in the Student Union Atrium. LEARN MORE...

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Frans Johansson
Author of the bestseller The Medici Effect

April 9, 2010
9:15 a.m., Apollo Room, Student Union
Free and open to the public

John Corvino, Ph.D.
Philosophy professor and "gay moralist"

April 20, 2010
7 p.m., Apollo Room, Student Union
Free and open to the public

Ted Rall
Nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist

May 3, 2010
7 p.m., Apollo Room, Student Union
Free and open to the public

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Using art and music to teach science and math

Playing glass bottle instruments. Sculpting with clay. Sound like a fun music or art class? How about a math class? Or a science class?

STEAM3, a course for art and music education majors at Wright State, incorporates the creative arts to teach science and mathematics. The class combines the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine with art and music.

The idea originated when Edgar Hardy, a former chemist and former director of research for the Monsanto Company in Dayton, approached Herb Dregalla, chair of the Department of Music, about creating a project or program that combined visual arts, music, and science. Over the past 10 years, Hardy and his family became patrons of Wright State's Department of Music, funding a variety of scholarships and programs. Edgar Hardy passed away in October 2009. Although Hardy was not a musician, he had an active interest in music and the visual arts. His own paintings have been featured at several galleries in San Diego, California.

After Dregalla discussed the idea with Linda Caron, former chair of the Department of Art and Art History and now associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Charles Taylor, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, the current STEAM3, class began to take shape.

"In using art and music to help students become engaged in science, STEAM3 represents university education at its imaginative best," said Taylor. "No discipline is by itself sufficient for understanding our complex world, nor does any speak effectively to every student. In combination with diverse ways of study, each contributes uniquely to the advancement of human learning."

Ben Montague, assistant professor of art and art history, and Bill Jobert, instructor of bassoon and assistant director of bands, taught the first STEAM3 class in Fall Quarter 2008. "Neither of us had a background in science or math, so there was a lot of learning to do," said Montague.

Montague and Jobert selected four art education majors and four music education majors to create a three-day interdisciplinary unit that would be taught to local elementary or middle school science or math students. To help students discover the connections between art, music, science, and math, Montague and Jobert asked them to create a list of commonly used terms in each area and discuss the similarities.

"In the months prior to teaching our math, music, and art unit, I learned a lot about how much these subjects have in common. I was truly surprised and hadn't expected the subjects to have so many similar concepts and terminology," said art education major Kim Link. "When we finally went out and taught our unit in a classroom, it was very rewarding to help the students discover the commonalities between math, music, and art."

As each team of two students (one art education major and one music education major) began creating lesson plans for their units, they received input from Tim Wood, professor emeritus of biological sciences. "I was impressed by the very high quality of their questions, their involvement, and what they wanted to do," said Wood.

The STEAM3 teams were assigned to either a seventh grade earth science class at Stivers School for the Performing Arts or a fourth grade science or fifth grade math class at Charity Adams Earley Academy for Girls.

Music education major Karen Nitsch brought in chimes from her church to help demonstrate measurements to fourth graders at Charity Adams Earley. By playing the chimes, students experienced how smaller chimes create higher pitches while larger chimes produce lower pitches.

During her classroom experience, Nitsch could see how hands-on activities help children learn. "When they were busy doing stuff and learning, they were much more engaged," explained Nitsch, who hopes her interdisciplinary training will help her when she enters the job market. "Music is a very essential part of a child's education. It can be incorporated into the whole learning experience and help them learn better."

Angela Nation, a fourth and fifth grade science and social studies teacher at Charity Adams Earley, said her students enjoyed the art and music activities and were disappointed their Wright State teachers would not be returning for future lessons. "They got a whole realm of different things they could talk about. It helped them understand that science is everywhere and can relate to anything," said Nation.

For the STEAM3 class in Fall Quarter 2009, a third member—either a science and math education major—has been added to each teaching team. Ann Farrell, professor of mathematics and statistics, works with Montague and Jobert to select the students and teach the class. Farrell said the STEAM3 course appealed to her since "interesting connections between mathematics and other disciplines are taught. It's always nice when a well-educated person is also well rounded. Someone who knows mathematics or science ought to know more than just math or science." Students in this fall's class will also have the opportunity to teach at the new Dayton Regional STEM School.

As the STEAM3 course continues to grow, Jobert looks forward to working with his next group of students. "We just had a great time doing the class," said Jobert. "In a lot of ways, it's that college class that I imagine when I think about college. You go in and there's discussion and everybody contributes."

"Ben Montague and Bill Jobert have expanded the initial concept in some exciting new ways. The Hardy family has been kept informed about these expansions and have enthusiastically increased their financial support of the program," said Dregalla. "I believe the methods developed and used in STEAM3, have the potential to make a major impact on the teaching of science and mathematics."

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