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Stories about...STEAM Studio

The Next Best Thing to Being There—STEAM Studio Youngsters Explore the Amazon with the Help of CITL

October 3, 2019

Here’s the scenario. On their way home from a gecko conference, their plane crashed in the Amazon, where they had to survive in the unfamiliar, somewhat hostile environment and to figure out how to return home using GPS technology. This scenario was part of a 6–8 week unit about the Amazon Rain Forest that third graders in Next Generation School’s STEAM Studio after-school program did this fall. Activities included studying geckos and building tents for shelter. Plus, to enhance their experience, they visited CITL’s (Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning) Armory Innovation Spaces: Innovation Studio and TechHub. There, armed with VR goggles, they zoomed in on the Amazon using Google Earth, watched YouTube 360 videos to experience the rain forest, and even laser printed luggage tags. Immersed in such fun, creative, and high-tech activities to study the Amazon, what student couldn’t help but learn?

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Student looks through a telescopeSTEAM Studio AstroTech Unit Focuses on Telescopes Courtesy of Astronomy’s Wong

Feburary 22, 2019

When folks at STEAM Studio, Next Generation School's after-school program that emphasizes STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math [STEM], plus Art) were planning a curriculum on Astro-Technology, they recalled that the father of one of their students was an astronomer. So it made perfect sense for Illinois Astronomy Professor, Tony Wong, to come and present to Kristi Hiatt’s Tera class (3rd–5th graders). During his visit, Wong didn’t get to share much about his research in molecular clouds, star formation, or the evolution of galaxies, but he did get to zero in on a tool he uses on a pretty regular basis: the telescope. And not only did the students learn about different kinds of telescopes and what they’re good for, they actually got to put together some Galileo telescopes and look through them to see what they could see.

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Tyler Haddock (left) and a STEAM Studio student watch as two marshmallows expand as a vacuum is created in the bell jar.Van der Veen Team Teaches STEAM Studio Students Why Air Pressure Variations and Vacuums Warrant Wacky Weather

May 3, 2018

What happens to balloons in a bell jar when you remove the air pressure and create a vacuum? What happens to marshmallows? The liquid in a barometer? How do these relate to our weather?

A number of STEAM Studio third–fifth graders discovered the answers to these questions and more when two PhD students from Chemistry Professor Renske van der Veen’s lab visited on Wednesday, April 25th and Friday, April 27th. Because the goal of Next Generation Schools’ after-school program is to emphasize STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math [STEM], along with Art), Tyler Haddock and Ryan Cornelius dropped by to present some scientific demos about air pressure—and how these different air pressure and vacuum effects are related to the weather—as part of Steam Studio’s Wacky Weather Week.

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NGS’ Science Social Café Exposes Girls to Women in Science—Broadens Narrow Notions About Careers in Science

March 30, 2018

Most Thursdays, eleven middle school girls from Next Generation School can be found at the school’s brand new Science Social Café Club, chatting over lunch with local women who are scientists. Besides learning about different potential careers, as the girls hear how these women got to where they are today, they’re also absorbing some pointers about discovering their own careers. Some key ideas they’ve learned are: 1) If you discover that you don’t really like what you originally planned to do, it’s ok to change your mind. 2) You can fashion a career out of some very disparate disciplines. 3) If there’s something you love and are passionate about, you just might be able to make a career out of it.

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MCB PhD student Andie LiuAt NGS’ Science Social Café, MCBees Women Serve as Role Models, Exemplify Careers in Science

March 19, 2018

On Thursday March 9th, six MCB PhD students briefly put the work in their labs on hold to drop by the Science Social Café at Next Generation School’s STEAM Studio in Champaign. There, while a group of 11 middle school girls (and one boy) ate their lunches, they served as role models, explained a bit about how they ended up in science, shared what doing research as an MCB graduate student at Illinois is like, and described their career goals and other possible careers in their field. Plus, they were available to answer any of the younger students’ questions. The goal of the event? According to STEAM Studio Director Angela Nelson, it was to “break the boundary of ‘You could be a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer,’” and open the youngsters up to the myriad possible careers, such as in science and research.

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STEAM Studio director Angela Nelson (right) works with a student making a headlampSTEAM Studio Uses Science, Technology, and Art to Go “Virtually Spelunking” in Caves—Exploring Everything From Spiders to Bats to 3D Cave Painting to GPS

November 16, 2017

It all started with a unit on insects. Then, not to overlook them, spiders were given equal coverage. Then one thing led to another, until recently, STEAM Studio, Next Generation School’s after-school program which incorporates art into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Mathematics), just finished doing an entire unit on caves which incorporated everything from identifying types of caves and how they’re formed, to sonar (how bats navigate through caves), to 3D cave painting, to exploring the world's caves through both GPS and virtual tours, and more.

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Wai-Tat Fu's Lab Partners with STEAM Studio To Make STEM, Spatial Reasoning Fun

February 21, 2017

Hundreds of local adults and children converged on Altgeld Hall on Saturday, January 28th for Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner. As they participated in the numerous puzzles, games, riddles, magic tricks, and other hands-on activities, they discovered that math is more than just figures and formulas.According to Melinda Lanius, a math Ph.D. student who, along with Assistant Professor Philipp Hieronymi, organized this year’s event, “Math is play!” So numerous volunteers from Illinois’ Department of Mathematics, Illinois Geometry Lab, and Association for Women in Mathematics spent the afternoon showing members of the community that play can indeed be math—and that it’s fun.

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Illinois’ Chris Barkan and RailTEC Convey the Message: “Trains—They Run on 'STEAM' and They're Terrific!”

August 22, 2016

Chris Barkan, a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, is passionate about trains. He knows about railroad technology and history—both in America and elsewhere in the world. Here at Illinois, he leads RailTEC, the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center, a world-class railroad research and educational program studying ways to make trains safer, faster, and more efficient— environmentally, economically, and energy-wise. Barkan is also devoted to educating the next generation of railway engineering professionals. And to make sure that railroads (and RailTEC) have a steady supply of bright young students, he, along with his colleague, Tyler Dick, and their rail engineering students teamed up with Angela Nelson at Next Generation School's STEAM Studio to organize and host STEAMvention 2016, where they used the fascinating and fun aspects of railroads to attract youngsters to a journey on the STEM pipeline.

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STEAM Studio's STEAMcation Students Visit RailTEC...Learn All About Trains

August 17, 2016

Remember the excitement you felt as a youngster when you heard the shrill whistle of a train in the distance? Remember the magic of sitting at a railroad crossing, watching a train zoom by, waiting to shout, “The caboose!”?

Knowing that trains still engender excitement in youngsters, at RailTEC, Illinois’ Rail Transportation and Engineering Center, staff and students tap into youngsters' love of trains to teach them some STEM principles. And on August 3, 2016, a group of 24 local 3rd through 5th graders from STEAMcation, STEAM Studio’s 9-week summer program, visited RailTEC and experienced it firsthand. They spent the day learning about railroads; did a variety of fun, yet educational, hands-on activities related to railroads; plus had the chance to interact with some great role models—real, live engineers, who shared their passion for railroads and engineering with the youngsters.
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Illinois' MCBees Expose STEAM Studio's STEAMcation Students to Medieval Science

August 16, 2016

On July 25th, 24 local youngsters spent the morning doing some hands-on activities learning about science —in medieval times and today—as part of STEAMcation, the 9-week summer program of STEAM Studio, Next Generation School’s after-school and summer program. And taking the morning away from their labs to sharing their scientific expertise and passion about their field with the youngsters were a number of outreach-minded Ph.D. students who are members of the MCBees, a graduate student group from MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biology).
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STEAMcation Provides Summer STEAM ...With a Little Help from Illinois Friends

August 16, 2016

The 48 local youngsters who spent the summer at STEAMcation doing activities which incorporated art into a variety of STEM-related activities not only had a lot of fun. They learned some STEM principles too. And helping teach the youngsters about some of these topics were a number of outreach-minded University of Illinois folk, such as the MCBees, a graduate student group from MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biology), and RailTEC, the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center.
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Entomology Ph.D. student Tanya Josek Suarez & Josek Use Insects & Robots to Teach Bioinspiration at STEAM Studio

October 14, 2015

Taking a short break from their entomology research, Illinois Professor Andy Suarez and Ph.D. student Tanya Josek visited Next Generation School’s STEAM Studio, an after-school program that incorporates art into its STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math). There they taught the students about bioinspiration— how biology can inspire engineering. The two incorporated a variety of hands-on activities guaranteed to engage the youngsters, teaching them about a couple of their favorite subjects: insects and insect-inspired robots.

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A student at Next Generation School's STEAM Studio uses clay and popsicle sticks to make a shelfstone while learning about speleothem during a unit on caves.Next Gen's STEAM Studio: An After-School STEM Program With a Dab of Creativity

October 20, 2014

Most folks have now heard of STEM by now, right? It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Well, Next Generation School (Next Gen) has come up with a new after-school program—and its accompanying revision of the STEM acronym—STEAM. What does the "A"stand for? According to Angela Nelson, the program's director, while the main thrust of the program is still STEM, they've included an additional component: Art.
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