Elementary school incorporates the arts in each subject to nurture students' creativity

ODENTON. Md. - You've likely heard of STEM schools, which focus on science, technology, engineering and math.  A school in Anne Arundel county is considered a STEAM school, adding a focus on arts and music.

When principal John Ceschini came to Seven Oaks Elementary School in Odenton two years ago, he wanted to brings the arts to the students' education.  "I saw a nice link between the sciences and the arts because the skills that are used in the sciences are the same skills that are used in art," he said.  "Collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, those skills are used across the curriculum."

Seven Oaks became a designated STEAM school, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.  The goal is to incorporate arts and music into each subject, even non-art subjects.  And when a grant became available from Crayola and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), to find new ways to nurture children's creativity, Ceschini says it was a no brainer to apply.

"We want to make sure people understand that the arts and sciences are very close together and we want to develop those skills."

It might seem strange to see musical triangles in a science class, but teachers use the instruments to demonstrate how our ears pick up vibrations.  In Charlene Beyerlein's music class, students aren't playing on traditional instruments; they're making them out of recycled materials.

"We're trying to build 21st century learners that can go into the work force and be faced with a problem and solve it," Beyerlein said.

"When you have kids engaged in a project, the learning sticks.  If it's just rope memorization in a book it doesn't stick," said Ceschini.  "But learning through a project, kids retain it for a longer period of time."

Seven Oaks was one of 20 schools around the country chosen for the grant money.  Each school will share the outcome of their programs with NAESP so other schools can incorporate the lessons into their curriculums.

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