The 2019 Teachers College Academic Festival, “Creating Pathways for All to Flourish,” was held on Saturday, April 13th.  The CTSC team featured the exhibit, Lighting Our Community, a hands-on experience that invited visiting alumni, educators, TC students, and their children to interact with components of a  curriculum-aligned transdisciplinary STEAM project. The exhibit was held as part of the Department for Math, Science, and Technology’s successful STEAMnasium afternoon.

The project -- which was created by CTSC staff -- positioned participants as civic engineers. In their role, participants were asked to support a city community by designing solutions for one of the following issues:  (1) the use of land, (2) the need for network and infrastructure, (3) the need to plan for thoughtful transportation by managing traffic flow, and (4) communication and emergency signaling in areas of danger or natural disaster with the use of electronic circuits, LED(s), and cardboard.

The project engaged the “students” as knowledge-builders and problem-solvers who worked collaboratively to contribute ideas to support a community. After introducing participants to the basics of circuitry, including the parts of a complete circuit, both parallel and series circuit structures, participants were encouraged to apply their new knowledge of circuity to improve the community. For example, using a simple circuit to design a vehicle parking signal, creating a series circuit to represent street lights and warning signals, and modeling traffic lights using parallel circuitry.

One young participant remarked with pride, “I added a warning sign near raging waters so that people are warned of the disasters that can happen when you get too close. I learned that lights can do many things and that making lights requires focus.”

The project exhibit shared the meaning of community with the TC audience and demonstrated the need for urban planning that takes place in the context of a caring community. Walking away, our participants understood that we all have something to contribute, as citizens, to create safe, collaborative, and welcoming spaces in our communities. Most importantly, through their design work and exchanges with the CTSC Facilitators, participants walked away with new ideas about STEM and STEAM; science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

CTSC STEAMnasium Team

(from left to right) Karen Page, Xiaoxue Du, Dr. Ellen Meier, Weiying Zhu, Lucy Smith, and Arisa Hirabayashi; (not pictured) Dr. Sean Peters, Gannett Cassidy, Alana Weitz, Kelly Gray