Robots take over Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Robotics and poetry aren’t an ordinary combination. But together, they represent one Pennsylvania district’s expansion from STEM to STEAM, adding an element of art to math and science.

Through grants, the Allegheny Valley (Pa.) School District, located about 15 miles from Pittsburgh, has expanded STEAM programs to prepare students for the competitive global economy reliant on innovation, design, and engineering. One such program is a Robotics Poetry unit for grade 8 and accelerated grade 7 students, allowing students to analyze poems through creating modern dioramas that can move to demonstrate the words or actions.

While STEM courses can be intimidating, including an art component often makes students more comfortable, says teacher Sue Mellon, the district’s gifted support coordinator who teaches Robotics Poetry to language arts classes. The students “really get excited about this creative process—there’s something about art they find exciting,” Mellon says. The courses also give students hands-on experience with poetry, which on its own can be daunting, but is necessary to learn for the SATs and state tests.