The Collaborative’s Research Thought Leaders help provide the strong foundation upon which the Collaborative’s work rests. Each Thought Leader is nationally and internationally recognized in his/her own field and brings an extensive depth of experience and expertise. They also are adept at working across disciplines.
In this issue, we visit with Bob Root-Bernstein, whose research in the arts-sciences and scientific creativity helps underpin the work of the Collaborative. He is a Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University, where he conducts research on autoimmune diseases, the nature of scientific creativity, and arts-sciences. You can learn more about Bob here.
In a conversation with Lucinda Presley, Collaborative Executive Director, Bob talked about his work and its relationship to the Collaborative.
Lucinda: Tell us about how your arts-science research developed.
Bob: I’ve been doing research in this field since graduate school in the 1980s. I always have been interested in many things. For example, although I majored in science at Princeton, I also am an artist and a musician. Like my parents, I am a polymath, with interest and expertise in a number of disciplines. I was interested in not just one narrow field, but in how disciplines intersected. I wanted to be a scientist, but I didn’t like the narrowness of the training. So, as a graduate student, I studied and received my doctorate in the history of science, which allowed me to work across disciplines. In my research, I saw that famous scientists such as Pasteur and Darwin also were artists and that it was these artistic skills that very positively impacted their work. For example, Darwin was polymathic, making breakthroughs in geology, geography, biology, and botany, and using photography as a scientific tool.
Here are some resources where you can learn more about Bob Root-Bernstein’s research.
Root-Bernstein RS, Pathak A, Root-Bernstein MM. PART 1. A Review of Studies Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Integrating Arts, Music, Performing, Crafts and Design into Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medical Education, Part 1: Summary of Evidence that Integration Is Professionally Useful and Effective. LEONARDO 2017: doi: 10.1162/LEON_a_01579
Root-Bernstein RS, Pathak A, Root-Bernstein MM. PART II. Review of ACD-STEMM Integration, Part 2: Statistically-Validated and Controlled Pedagogical Studies of the Root-Bernstein’s “Tools for Thinking”. LEONARDO 2017: doi: 10.1162/LEON_a_01580
Root-Bernstein RS, Pathak A, Root-Bernstein MM. PART III. Review of ACD-STEMM Integration, Part 3: Statistically-Validated and Controlled Pedagogical Studies of Eleven ACD-Integration Strategies Utilized by STEM Professionals and General Conclusions. LEONARDO 2017: doi:
Root-Bernstein, R., et al. Arts Foster Scientific Success: Avocations of Nobel, National Academy, Royal Society, and Sigma Xi Members. Article (PDF Available) in Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology 1(2):51-63 · October 2008.
Robert Root-Bernstein STEMM education should get “HACD”. Science 06 Jul 2018: Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 22-23. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat8566
Are you an out-of-school educator who is engaged in STEAM-based teaching?
Learning environments can range from after-school programs in community centers or school-sponsored field trips to summer camps or other experiences held outside the formal classroom. This research will look at the intersections of STEM and the arts as well as STEM and the humanities.
If you are an out-of-school educator serving early childhood through higher education students, the Collaborative welcomes your participation in this important study. To find out more and to access a brief survey go here. It should take you 15 minutes or less to complete.
Upon conclusion of the research study, an archive of validated strategies and tools will be available to help advance and refine STEAM teaching practice that can ensure maximum learning and success by students that ultimately will help promote vital innovative thinking skills.
Over the last four years, the Innovation Collaborative has engaged in research activities investigating effective practices in integrating the arts with science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), and humanities, focusing on K-12 classroom implementations.
Phase I of the project involved the examination of Arts and STEM integrated lessons, units, and experiences. From this analysis the following themes were identified as most important to effective lessons: providing deep content knowledge in both STEM and Arts fields, connections across content areas, specific criteria for assessment, and collaborations between teachers and between students.
Phase II of the project involved using the top lessons, units, and experiences that had been identified in Phase I to study the criteria in classroom settings.
Phase III of the project, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, involved providing professional development to the top K-12 teachers identified in Phase I, who then implemented high-quality lessons in their classrooms. This phase measured outcomes for teachers, students, and student products. It also led to the improvement of the rubrics to assess critical and creative thinking and arts integration of these lessons, units, and experiences.
With the continued support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Innovation Collaborative is continuing its K-12 Teacher Professional Development Study of STEAM-based learning and teaching in the 2018-19 academic year. Working with its Innovation Fellows, the top teachers identified in the first round of research in 2017-18, the project is now studying how to further develop teacher leaders and networks. During this second phase of the research, the Fellows selected teacher mentees whom they will help to develop their own STEAM-based teaching strategies.
The mentees assembled in Houston, TX, December 7-9, 2018, for an in-person workshop that focused on the content and methodology that will anchor their work in 2019. The Fellows, who will work with their mentees throughout the year, joined the workshop virtually. Collaborative Executive Director Lucinda Presley led the session. Also participating in the training were the grant’s researcher, Bess Wilson, the grant’s arts specialist, Fellow Juli Salzman from Angleton, TX ISD, and the science specialist, Dodie Resendez from Texas Education Agency Region IV in Houston.
When educators move from traditional instruction to innovation, there are many structural challenges that can slow their progress. It’s not just a matter of teacher enthusiasm. They also need access to materials to support new ideas. The National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) four-year old effort to identify and encourage the best in children’s STEM literature was no exception. It would not be enough to recommend a few good books. The initiative was led by Missouri educator Carrie Launius. Among the goals were ways to encourage publishers to recognize how creativity and innovation could be fostered through reading, and to provide materials that met those goals. And, of course, they had to be confident that these books would sell. A well-publicized national competition would go a long way to accomplishing these goals.
Towards that end, in 2014, NSTA, working in partnership with the Children’s Book Council, set out to recognize and encourage the best in STEM process-based literature. To begin, they had to develop a rubric featuring criteria that didn’t focus on content. The structure of the publishing industry doesn’t easily adapt to new ideas and new genres—especially when their use in the classroom has not yet demonstrated profitability. Trade books that are used to support various school content areas (like science or engineering) are often marketed and sold by specialized sales reps in those areas. Very few teachers use reading to support lessons in mathematics or technology (coding) so there isn’t an easy path to creating that niche. The rubric would have to clearly encourage publications that emphasized creativity and problem-solving “habits of mind.”
References You Can Use
Here are three great articles for teachers on STEAM, from the National Science Teachers’ Association’s journals, Science Scope and Science for Children:
STEAM to Your Classes, by Cheska Robinson
(Science Scope, September, 2017, Volume 41)
This column shares recent conversations taken from the NSTA listserv community about current science education topics, including how to add STEAM to your classroom by using STEAM-based icebreakers and team-building activities on the first day of school; strategies for creating a STEAM-centered classroom makerspace: and how to gradually replace end-of quarter assessments with STEAM design challenges throughout the school year.
Moving Beyond STEAM: Art as Expression, by Cassie Quigley, Judy Harrington, and Dani Herro
(Science Scope, July, 2014, Volume 40}
An overview on how to move STEM to STEAM by adding the arts to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to produce powerful and authentic learning opportunities: Link
STEAM education can be looked at through many lenses, but there is a tendency to view it primarily through the needs of classroom teachers. There is a good reason for this as teachers ultimately make STEAM happen. But STEAM isn’t a lesson. STEAM isn’t usually a class. STEAM is a culture and culture is systemic.
What does that mean exactly? It means that every organization has a culture set by patterns formed by interrelating and interconnected attitudes, goals, norms, and practices. If a culture is not intentionally set, it will develop organically.
An organization’s culture is nurtured by the vision and practice of its leadership. The leaders in a STEAM education program depends on the scope, ranging from a teacher practicing STEAM in their room to a superintendent overseeing a division-wide program. When resources improve, and the impact of the program grows with the scope, the values and practices necessary to grow an effective STEAM program remain similar.
Here are the attributes of a positive STEAM culture:
STEAM is successful when leaders value all the STEAM subjects. In most states, only two of the STEAM disciplines are assessed, but they all have equal value. This belief can be demonstrated in many ways, but an understanding that each of these disciplines has their own standards, body of knowledge, and vocabulary is an important start. It’s also important that the teachers of these subjects are regarded as professionals with valuable contributions.
The Innovation Collaborative’s new website brings exciting changes that are a result of input from members and stakeholders.
The new website reflects goals in the Innovation Collaborative’s new strategic plan (see Improving Practice and Convene). It features blogs about important topics at the arts/sciences/humanities intersections. It also houses the Collaborative’s newsletter and features enhanced graphics design.
A special tribute goes to the Innovation Collaborative’s website designer Priya Komala for her unflagging efforts to develop this new website.
The findings of the Innovation Collaborative’s early phase of its K-12 Effective Practices research has been published in Roeper Review, an international journal focusing on scholarly articles related to gifted education.
The Innovation Collaborative’s K-12 Effective Practices research is a multi-year national project identifying effective practices that promote creative and innovative thinking at the intersections of the arts, sciences, technology, engineering, math, and humanities. This recently-published article analyzes the findings from the early phase of the K-12 research. In that phase, top lessons at these intersections from across the US were identified and the Collaborative’s metrics for effective practices were analyzed.
This early study also was selected for presentation at the American Education Research Association 2017 annual conference.
The K-12 Effective Practices study is led by Innovation Collaborative researcher and founding Board member, Bess Wilson, PhD. Dr. Wilson is associate professor of education at the University of North Florida. She is Chair-Elect for the Research and Evaluation Network for the National Association for Gifted Children. She also is President-elect for the Florida Association for the Gifted and is an associate editor for the Journal of Advanced Academics. Also guiding the study is Innovation Collaborative Executive Director Lucinda Presley. Ms. Presley has been teaching and developing curriculum at these intersections for 25 years and holds a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. She was recently awarded the adjunct faculty of the year award at the college where she teaches.
More information about this K-12 study can be found here.
The Innovation Collaborative has received an additional Art Works grant of $10,000 to continue its study of K-12 STEAM teacher professional development. This study will build on the NEA-funded teacher professional development pilot study conducted during the 2017-18 academic year. These studies will provide research-based effective practices for K-12 teacher professional development that promote creative and innovative thinking at the intersections of the arts, sciences, technology, engineering, math, and the humanities.
Innovation Collaborative Board Chair Lucinda Presley commented, “We continue to be exceedingly grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for supporting this important work of the Collaborative. Through these NEA-funded studies, we are helping create a solid, research-based foundation for the growing STEAM movement.”
This grant is one of $80 million in grants approved by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, click here.
Research Thought Leader
Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D.
Founder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas
The Collaborative’s Research Thought Leaders help provide the strong research foundation upon which the Collaborative’s work rests. Each Thought Leader is nationally and internationally recognized in his/her own field and brings an extensive depth of experience and expertise. They also are adept at working across disciplines.
A Thought Leader will be featured in each of the upcoming Collaborative newsletters. We begin with Sandi Chapman, whose work in neuroscience helps underpin the work of the Collaborative. In a conversation with Lucinda Presley, Collaborative Chair, the two talked about Sandi’s work and its importance to the Collaborative.
Lucinda: What is the mission of the Center for BrainHealth and what are its contributions to society?
Sandi: The Center’s mission is to help people maximize their brain potential, their cognitive abilities and their overall performance. To do that, we have 120+ researchers and clinicians from the following fields: cognitive neuroscientists, psychologists, biostatisticians, medical staff, brain imagers, neuro-engineers, teachers, speech-language pathologists, and computer-gaming designers who develop technology-based eLearning platforms. These experts focus on discovering ways to strengthen the brain’s systems’ broad-based thinking networks and expand cognitive capacities to promote real-life functionality. Our team is interested in how the brain best learns and works efficiently to stay energized. This helps people face and solve the complexities of the world around them. We uniquely focus on how to empower individuals to harness their brain’s potential – by taking it to the next level of performance. The double win is that individuals, whether gifted or those who struggle with some disability, are able to increase functionality.
Lucinda: What is your individual research focus?
Sandi: I work across the lifespan to help people inoculate the brain against cognitive decline, making each day for that person better than the day before. This work also helps people rebound when the brain has had insults from such factors as poverty, depression, chemotherapy, anesthesia, brain trauma, sleep problems and drug or medication effects, to mention a few.
Lucinda: How does your research align with the Collaborative's work?
Sandi: The work of the Collaborative immensely inspires me to work even harder. The Collaborative is promoting innovation thinking in real life contexts. Innovative cognition is the most powerful function of the human brain. Our brain was designed to create new knowledge – not just be a vast fact storage-retrieval machine. Innovative cognition is the driver of brain health, not just for the brain’s neurotransmitters, but also for strengthening the cognitive system. Innovative thinking builds a more engaged brain. When we innovate, the brain can increase the production of dopamine, the “happy drug” as well as norepinephrine, the “faster learning drug”. Increasing student innovation thinking capacity will help them to solve the complexity of problems they face, even ones that that don’t yet exist today. Innovative thinking is important in all types of theaters, from sciences, technology, engineering and math to the arts and humanities. The Collaborative’s focus on higher-level reasoning to maximize our students’ potential better prepares them for college and the workplace. To improve the well-being of our society, we must introduce innovative cognition starting in youth to build lifelong desire for ingenuity.
Lucinda: What have you discovered in your research that points to the importance of the Collaborative's work?
Sandi: We have been able to show a major impact of learning performance across all content areas when we teach students how to learn, not what to learn. We train them to aggregate information across learning domains to create new ideas that they can apply to their own lives. This dynamic mental exercise engages students to become deeper-level thinkers, which serves to enhance the brain’s frontal networks and help with the brain’s executive function and problem-solving performance. Deeper level thinking is the power exercise that strengthens the brain’s most important networks to support agile and adept thinking in this rapidly changing world. In short, this mental training serves to build a futuristic brain.
This is what the Collaborative is dedicated to: elevating abilities to aggregate knowledge across disciplines to innovate and create new ideas, solutions and broad-based perspectives. We must teach students to generate new understandings and applications of knowledge and innovate instead of just spitting back the knowledge they are given.
Lucinda: How do you see the Thought Leaders and the Collaborative benefitting from their work together?
Sandi: The Thought Leaders benefit from the Collaborative because we learn practical applications and new directions for our research. This makes our research more meaningful, since it’s driven by practical application in classrooms. Science without application is unproductive. The Collaborative provides us insight into the hurdles and opportunities in the educational setting. We, in turn, help the Collaborative develop new ways of understanding the potential of the human brain and how it best learns. We need to know what constitutes innovative thinking and problem-solving and what optimizes learning in the young brain. The Collaborative is helping develop that metaview. It has inspired me to (1) expand assessments of both higher order reasoning and innovative cognition to measure gains from the multitude of educational practices and (2) to advance classroom teaching-learning with a guide of cognitive strategies to hone these valuable cognitive capacities..
Lucinda: Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Sandi: When I think about our students, I realize that health starts and ends with brain health. For example, factors such as stress and poor sleep have a significant impact on humans’ brain health. What is the learning environment in our classrooms – does it empower student learning or cause it to self-destruct? We, at the Center for BrainHealth, are dedicated to working with the Collaborative to build teaching and learning environments in classrooms and corporations that empower individuals to embrace with confidence the control they have to harness their unlimited potential to increase their brain performance.
The Collaborative extends deepest gratitude to Sandi Chapman and to all of the Thought Leaders for their enthusiastic support of the Collaborative and its work.
For more information on Dr. Chapman’s work, go to
First-Ever SMART Think Tank for Adolescents and Link to the Frontiers article for Adolescent Reasoning
Thanks to generous NEA funding, the Innovation Collaborative convened in person its mentors, the Research Thought Leaders. The in-person convening was held in Washington, DC, the Collaborative’s home base, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA). They also meet virtually to continue their work with the Collaborative.
The Thought Leaders involved in this work are: James Catterall, PhD – arts (deceased August, 2017); Hubert Dyasi, PhD – science; Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, PhD – humanities; Bob Root-Bernstein; PhD – arts-sciences; Bonnie Cramond, PhD – creativity; and Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD – neuroscience.
At the DC convening, each Thought Leader shared with Collaborative Board members their research that directly impacts the Collaborative’s work. They also learned in depth about the Collaborative’s research and worked collaboratively to develop recommendations for deepening and expanding the Collaboratives research initiatives and its framework. These discussions were inspired by NMWA gallery activities, virtual presentations by Collaborative model teachers in the K-12 Effective Practices project and by an evening networking event with stakeholders.
An important finding from this project was that a convening such as this offers rich and valuable opportunities to learn not only from individual Thought Leader input but also from their extended conversations among themselves. Additionally, the Collaborative learned that extended exposure to these meetings and concepts over time generates the most positive outcomes.
The Innovation Collaborative Policy Committee has adopted its first policy agenda, which helps inform the Collaborative’s work. This policy agenda focuses on the shared priorities and beliefs among member organizations of the Innovation Collaborative.
The Policy Committee includes Kathi R. Levin, co-chair (NAEA), Jonathan Katz, co-chair (Strategic Advisor), Jeff Allen (Federation of State Humanities Councils), Elyse Eidman-Aadahl (National Writing Project), Juliana Texley (National Science Teachers Association), and Lucinda Presley, Collaborative Chair. The topics covered in the Policy Agenda were developed following a year’s worth of polling and discussion about how the organizations involved with the Collaborative are engaged in furthering policies supportive of their field.
There are many policies supportive of interdisciplinary learning and collaboration within Section 4107 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Policy Committee has helped the Collaborative Board and Advisory Committee become familiar with opportunities for furthering the Collaborative’s shared policy agenda within the parameters of ESSA implementation.
The following agreed-upon policy agenda statements detail the shared beliefs among individuals, organizations, and institutions of the Innovation Collaborative regarding the importance of the arts, STEM, and humanities intersections in teaching and learning:
Equity and Access: All students/learners should have equal access to high-quality, standards-based interdisciplinary learning across disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities.
Professional Development: All educators should have ongoing professional development in interdisciplinary learning.
Planning Time: All educators should have sufficient planning time in order to support collaboration in planning, implementing, and evaluating these teaching and learning experiences.
Collaborations and Partnerships: Collaborations and Partnerships between schools, non-profit organizations, higher education, corporations, and other resources support opportunities for outcomes-based, collaborative learning, creative problem solving, and innovation.
Workforce Thinking Skills: All students/learners should have access to programs which support the development of workforce thinking skills and the 4c’s (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) at these interdisciplinary intersections, enabling them to succeed in the 21st century workplace.
Resource Allocation: Programs which support interdisciplinary learning across the disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities have appropriate capacity to meet program goals and achieve successful outcomes including facilities, equipment, and resources
Lifelong Learning: Programs which support interdisciplinary learning across the disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities share a fundamental belief in lifelong learning.
Citizen and Civic Engagement: Programs which support interdisciplinary learning across the disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities identify ways to engage individuals throughout their communities in their work.
Next steps for the Innovation Collaborative Policy Committee focus on developing a plan for the Innovation Collaborative to utilize the policy agenda over the next year in a variety of contexts. The committee will also provide suggestions for how individuals and organizations affiliated with the Collaborative can make use of the agenda in their work at the local, state, and national levels.
The Collaborative is conducting a multi-year national research project to determine the most effective practices that promote vital workforce-related creative and innovative thinking skills at the intersections of the arts, STEM and the humanities (STEAM) in K-12 learning settings. This research is a broad national effort to begin developing a framework to provide a strong underpinning for the growing STEAM movement.
The Collaborative’s research includes classroom and teacher professional development studies, in addition to the development of educational materials. This project is aligned with the research being done by the Collaborative’s out-of-school-time research project, which represents museums, after-school programs and other out-of-school-time learning settings.
The K-12 Effective Practices Classroom Study Research Project is in its 4th phase. The K-12 classroom project first piloted its effective practices criteria and submissions process in 2015-16. At that time, 10 teachers whose submissions most effectively promoted the creative and innovative thinking skills were chosen as Innovation Fellows as part of the first round of research. The Fellows are now part of the Innovation Collaborative's planning team. Other Innovation Fellows will be chosen as the project progresses.
These first Innovation Fellows are:
Kerry Buchman, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles;
Ian Fogarty, Riverview High School, New Brunswick, Canada;
Ashley Lupfer, Rockingham Middle School, Richmond, NC;
Kimberly Olson, Centre School, Hampton, NH;
Ana Rozzi, Oregon Episcopal School, Portland, OR;
Juli Salzman, Northside Elementary, Angleton, TX;
Marica Shannon, Mitchell High School, Mitchell, SD;
Kathleen Sweet, Starmont Elementary, Arlington, IA;
Kristin Taylor, Sylmar Leadership Academy, Los Angeles.
During the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, each Fellow, along with other selected teachers, conducted classroom implementation of other Fellows’ lessons and one of their own lessons to further develop a STEAM effective practices rubric and criteria that will be usable in classrooms. This classroom study is continuing in the 2018-19 school year. It is being conducted in concert with the NEA-funded teacher professional development study. Significant findings will be released.
The classroom study, inspired by the input of the Collaborative’s Research Thought Leaders, is led by Collaborative Board member Hope Wilson, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Interim Director of Assessment, College of Education and Human Services, University of North Florida. Dr. Wilson also is Chair of the National Association for Gifted Children, Research and Evaluation Network. Also leading the K-12 Project is Board member Amanda Upton, Manager, Nominations and Teacher Awards, National Science Teachers Association. They are joined by Collaborative Executive Director Lucinda Presley an extensive team of expert advisors from universities, and schools, in addition to the Innovation Fellows.
Collaborative Founding Chair and Executive Director Lucinda Presley was recently presented the Adjunct Excellence in Teaching award (Adjunct Professor of the Year) by the college where she has taught part-time for 18 years. The college, Tyler Junior College, is one of the largest community colleges in Texas with an enrollment of 12,000 credit students and 20,000 continuing education students. Ms. Presley teaches art appreciation to 60-90 college and high school early college students per semester. She has been using these classes as an additional way to study the effectiveness of the Collaborative’s criteria in getting students to think creatively and innovatively.
The Collaborative newsletter Managing Editor Juliana Texley interviewed Ms. Presley about this award and its relevance to the Collaborative.
1. You’ve been honored as a great instructor. How does it relate to the Innovation Collaborative? This Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award recognizes that getting students to think in addition to learn is important. The thinking skills the college promotes, such as analysis, problem-solving, collaboration and communication, dovetail with those of the Innovation Collaborative. We must help students of all ages realize that these thinking skills will help not only with learning required information but also with their daily lives. When I integrate thinking skills, my college students become much better at learning the required content. Since they are analyzing the material better than before, they also can apply their information to solve problems more effectively. Since I’ve been using these skills, I’ve seen a marked increase in my college students’ engagement and use of the required concepts and information in ways that transfer from project to project. Students also report that these skills are helping in their daily lives. To accomplish this, throughout the semester, students are integrating supportive Collaborative concepts such as working in a team, observing with deep visual analysis, investigating by changing perspectives, comparing and contrasting and then synthesizing information. They also are analyzing the pertinent information and communicating their evidence-based conclusions as a group. These are new skills for many students, but it’s gratifying to see their growth by the end of the semester.
2. Tell us how you came to the Collaborative at this point in your career. I began with an interdisciplinary Masters’ degree in art, history, literature and science. Working at an art museum, I integrated the sciences with art for K-12 classrooms for a number of years. I then was recruited to a science museum, where I integrated arts with science for K-12.
Since then, I’ve been working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab for many years, taking their out-of-school Imagine Mars arts/science program into K-12 education. I’ve also been working on the STEAM education portion of the Philip Beesley Canadian Living Architecture project. I set up the education and program departments for the new Leonardo arts/science museum in Salt Lake City. I also have been doing STEAM K-12 teacher professional development in different locations for many years, including for the Texas Education Agency and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. At the same time, I’ve been integrating science and arts thinking in the college classes I teach. So, I was able to apply what I had learned from these many experiences in STEAM teaching, curriculum-writing, teacher professional development and programming in a variety of learning settings when I was invited to be a part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) - funded SEAD (Sciences, Engineering, Arts, Design) project.
How did the Innovation Collaborative begin?
The Innovation Collaborative is an outcome of NSF - funded SEAD (Sciences, Engineering, Arts, Design) project. I was a chair of the SEAD Learning and Education team. When the grant was completed, my team and I received permission to take the important SEAD work into K-12 and out-of-school settings through founding the Innovation Collaborative. Members of the original SEAD project still are an important part of the Collaborative and we continue to dovetail with their impressive work.
What are the Innovation Collaborative’s goals?
Our goal is to help develop the important workforce skills of creative and innovative thinking. We do this through helping educators and students learn to think creatively and innovatively as they interact with content. Everyone needs these thinking skills in life. This became apparent in my work with my college students. So, we work to enrich STEM, arts and humanities educators’ abilities to collaborate and teach across disciplines using a common language and common processes. This can be accomplished through professional development where educators see that, though sciences, arts and humanities educators bring their own perspectives to learning, these educators use many of the same process skills.
The Innovation Collaborative also is helping develop a deep and firm research base for the STEAM movement. With a sound basis in research-based data, the movement becomes sustainable and not just a passing fad. Policymakers and stakeholders also will need this data.
3. Where does the Collaborative go from here? We have been focused on identifying effective practices at the arts/sciences/humanities intersections in K-12. We now are taking what we’ve learned from identifying top lessons and studying them in K-12 classrooms into out-of-school-time settings, teacher professional development and curriculum development. We will make the tools that arise from these studies widely available. The Collaborative also will continue to develop effective collaboration across disciplines, institutions and learning settings and to use our data to advocate for the importance of this STEAM approach.
Dr. Hope E. Wilson was honored at the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) during the organization’s annual conference in Charlotte, NC, during the 2017-18 school year. Dr Wilson, an associate professor at the University of North Florida and president-elect of the Florida Association for Gifted Children, was awarded NAGC’s 2017 Early Leader Award for her service in the field of gifted education at the local, state, and national levels.
The Early Leader Award is presented to people who are within 10 years of receiving their doctorate and have made significant contributions through leadership and service in support of gifted children. Early leaders actively participate in NAGC and other organizations for the gifted, as well as advocate and educate others about the needs of gifted students.
In an interview with the University of North Florida Journal, Dr. Wilson said, “In our country, we have many great laws to protect students with special needs. But we don’t have any legislation nationally that protects the needs of our gifted learners. So, part of my research is to find out what those needs are and what happens when states and counties develop programs directly tied to gifted learning.”
As a member of the Innovation Collaborative board of directors and executive committee, Dr. Wilson leads the organization’s K-12 Effective Practices Research Project and has been active in other organization initiatives.
“NAGC is committed to providing opportunities and resources to better understand and serve all gifted and talented children,” said M. René Islas, NAGC Executive Director. “The awards program shines a light on those who are making a difference in supporting gifted children as they reach to achieve their personal best.”
“I am honored to receive this award, as I continue to work and advocate for gifted children in Florida and across the country,” said Dr. Wilson.
Juli Salzman, Music Specialist, Northside Elementary, Angleton, TX
We had some 2nd graders present uses of technology in the music classroom at our district’s Technology Showcase. They did such a great job that three other teachers and I selected and coached a group of eighteen 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to become STEAM Ambassadors. We taught them how to make presentations and confidently speak to groups about STEAM activities and benefits. We presented at the Music and Technology Conference of Houston during the 2017-18 school year. The kids also presented the music items they shared with elementary music teachers in the Greater Houston area. Marcelo Caplan, from Columbia University of Chicago and the creator of an awesome after-school STEAM program in the Chicago area was the keynote speaker.
Children learn best when they are exploring authentic problems that are relevant to them and their communities. But today, children have less freedom to explore. Those children who come from restricted environments have even less opportunities for rich, exploratory experiences than others. So teachers often rely on literature to introduce new contexts and new worlds in which children can reason.
Integrating literature and the STEM fields is an easy leap for most instructors. For 45 years, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Children’s Book Council have worked together to identify the most Outstanding Science Trade Books for young scientists. But in the past few years, new questions have emerged. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are subjects in themselves. But STEM is more than that: it is a creative state of mind. STEM is naturally integrated, and includes arts, social studies and any other realm in which young learners can ask questions and solve problems.
So in 2016 NSTA convened a panel of representatives from technology, engineering, mathematics and science educators to redefine what the Best STEM books might represent. Their conclusion: Subject matter content didn’t really matter. What was important was creativity, divergent thinking and the spirit of invention. STEM thinking might involve science or mathematics, but it might equally involve social studies or the arts.
A year of discussions resulted in a rubric, and an invitation to publishers. “Send us your “BEST STEM books that illustrate innovation so that we can encourage this sort of integration.” The result: about 350 submissions to a panel of representatives from five associations. The panel identified 21 books that illustrated how creativity and ingenuity could work. The list included books about inventors, artists and architects and stories about stubborn young “makers” and a crafty pirate with a plan. To see that list, click here.
In 2017, 22 books were selected from over 330. They included music, architecture, art, and even coding skills without words or computers – all representing the best in integration. See them here.
Dr. James Catterall, Collaborative Thought Leader and founding director of the Center for Research on Creativity, passed away unexpectedly last year. Collaborative Advisory Council member James Palmarini, Director of Educational Policy for the Educational Theatre Association published a blog in honor of Dr. Catterall in which he wrote, “The arts education community lost one of its champions….Dr. Catterall has been called “the father of arts education research” and I don’t think that’s hyperbole. Over four decades, his landmark studies showcasing the impact of arts experiences on students has been the benchmark that advocates, policy makers, teachers, fellow researchers and a host of others have used to make the case for arts education programs in our schools and communities….His work serves as the bible of proof as to why every student should have the opportunity to engage in art making as part of their school career. Reports like Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development and his seminal longitudinal study, Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art, in which he tracked the connections between high involvement in arts learning and general academic success in students over a twelve-year period, offer rigorous evidence of what those of us working with students—whether in theatre, music, dance, or visual arts—have witnessed time and time again: that encouraging children to create and share the art that they make and do helps them become better, more positive human beings able to make their way in the world today and for the rest of their lives.“
Objects in Motion
The barely perceptible hum I almost missed,
the tiniest oscillation on the screen,
was the dancing line of the first fireball returning.
Time as a tidal pool became clear,
how to stand quietly at its edge and look back in,
and later, looking back in, it became easy
to count every pulsar and nebula,
asteroid and comet, moon and meteor.
Not far from a field of corn on one planet,
next to a car parked beneath the pinball sky,
one person takes a small step forward
into the arms of another. I think,
from this distance, of their particulate image
rolling out in waves, riding the seahorse photons,
of the small step, of their arms enfolding,
of their stepping again and again into comforting arms,
the eternal momentum of objects in motion.
Effective Practices Research Project
The Collaborative is in its fourth year of a multi-year national research project to determine the most effective practices that promote important workforce-related creative and innovative thinking skills at the intersections of the arts, STEM, and the humanities (STEAM) in K-12 learning settings. This research will help provide a strong foundation for the STEAM movement.
This research project initially conducted an extensive study of top lessons addressing the arts and sciences from teachers across the country. The teachers submitting the top 10 identified lessons were named Innovation Fellows. The Fellows are now the front line teachers for this conducting research and for helping develop further research. They are joined by other selected teachers from a variety of disciplines from across the US.
The 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years are devoted to studying the Collaborative’s criteria and rubric in a variety of classroom settings.
This aspect of the study is enhanced by a National Endowment of the Arts Art Works grant that allows the Collaborative also to study teacher professional development in the context of these lessons.
These studies are developed through collaborations with university researchers, content leaders, teachers, administrators, and the Collaborative’s Research Thought Leaders.
The Collaborative has received generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to begin its study of effective practices in K-12 teacher professional development at the intersections of the arts, sciences, technology, engineering, math, and humanities (STEAM).
With this grant, the Collaborative will study the blending of the arts, STEM, and humanities in teacher professional development through virtual and in-person training combined with mentorship models. In addition to effective practices in professional development, this project also will strengthen the Collaborative’s study of effective practices in K-12 classroom settings.
This NEA-funded project already has worked in-person and virtually with its Innovation Fellows, the top 10 identified teachers from previous research. As a result of their experiences, they are helping strengthen the Collaborative’s effective practices criteria and rubric through practitioners’ perspectives.
Thanks to generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Collaborative will begin the study of what constitutes effective practices in STEAM teacher professional development.
The Collaborative will train during 2017-18 its Innovation Fellows, the top 10 identified teachers from previous research. This training is being held both virtually and in person. The teachers will integrate this training with classroom implementation, reflection, and assessments. Using the train-the-trainer model, the teachers also will work with mentees to extend the training. The Fellows also will use these experiences to further enrich the Collaborative’s K-12 Effective Practices criteria and rubric.
This grant builds on the findings from the previous NEA grant. This grant allowed the Collaborative to convene its Research Thought Leaders to enrich and firmly ground these projects.