LouisvilleKY’s Bellarmine and JCPS to host second annual STEAM Maker Faire for local students

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Louisville, KY., – The second Bellarmine-JCPS STEAM Maker Faire will take place Friday, April 21, 2017, from 6:00 to 9:00 at Bellarmine University’s SuRF Center. The free event will feature students (with project teachers and coaches) presenting their designs and creations based on the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) investigations they have learned as part of a partnership between Bellarmine University and Jefferson County Public Schools.

Last year’s event drew over 200 community visitors observing and participating in experiments involving topics such as robotics, coding and solar energy; while this year’s specific exhibits promise to be a surprise, organizers anticipate double the number of attendees this year.

“The idea of a maker faire is to give an opportunity to showcase the DOING of STEAM and get people excited,” says Dr. Kristin Cook, who co-directs the project with fellow Bellarmine school of education professor Dr. Sarah Bush.

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The centerpiece of the maker faire will be the work of students from the five elementary schools involved in the two-year STEAM program—Alex R. Kennedy, Bowen, Brandeis, Field and Tully—although all ages are welcome to join in the fun. True to the concept of a maker faire, there will be opportunities for participants to partake in hands-on creating.

Lest the arts be overlooked in STEAM, Cook says it is the current of humanity and community that runs through the entire undertaking: “Art comes in a lot of forms,” Cook says. “It goes beyond arts and crafts. It is about performance and thinking about empathy, thinking about expression. The arts are infused [in STEAM] in a variety of ways. We use problem-based inquiries using the design thinking framework to connect artists and engineers,” she offers as an explanation. In other words, she says, “students solve real-world, authentic problems in the community. It’s getting into the minds of those you’re designing for, and starting with empathy.”

From whatever angle attendees approach the maker faire, there promises to be something for everyone from the curious beginner to the experienced professional—and it’s happening right here in our schools. “There are lots of really cool things going on at the district level that people can replicate,” Cook says.

The Bellarmine-JCPS STEAM Maker Faire will also include three key informal learning partners on the project: the Kentucky Science Center, the Speed Art Museum, and the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

For more information on the Bellarmine-JCPS STEAM Maker Faire, e-mail Dr. Cook at kcook@bellarmine.edu.

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