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Alpena program combines science, technology, engineering, art and math

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Alpena Public Schools students Alayna Krey, an eighth grader, pumps the top of a salad spinner while Annette Faircloth, a seventh grader, looks on. Krey and Faircloth were learning about art through motion on Tuesday at Art in the Loft.

ALPENA — A small group of Alpena Public Schools students is learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics through art this week.

Alpena Public Schools has partnered with Art in the Loft to offer upper elementary and middle school students a hands-on summer school program called Summer of STEAM — or science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.

Students on Tuesday used a salad spinner to learn how to create art using motion. Using different techniques, students dropped paint onto a piece of paper inside the salad spinner before giving it a whirl.

Alayna Krey, a participant who is going into eighth grade this fall, said the first time using the spinner to create art didn’t turn out the way she thought it would. However, Krey tried again, putting paint on the paper differently, which produced a different outcome.

“It’s really fun because we get to learn different techniques in art,” she said of the class.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Justin Christensen-Cooper, executive director at Art in the Loft, watches seventh grader Tyler Kowalewsky pour paint into a salad spinner as part of a lesson about art through motion on Tuesday at Art in the Loft.

Justin Christensen-Cooper, the class’ teacher and executive director of Art in the Loft, said Summer of STEAM supports concepts students either learned last year or will learn during the upcoming school year.

“This time it’s getting out of the classroom, in a space like this, and doing some projects that maybe they haven’t done before,” he said.

Tyler Kowalewsky, a participant headed into seventh grade this fall, said there were a lot of things to do with your hands, and that the summer school program was more engaging than the typical school classroom.

“There’s a lot of different ways to make art and most of it is pretty fun,” he said.

About 24 students are enrolled in the three-day Summer STEAM program this week, with students in third through fifth grades attending the morning session and students in sixth through eighth grades attending the afternoon session. Each session lasts three hours.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Alpena Public Schools student Alayna Krey, an eighth grader, pours paint into a salad spinner as part of a lesson about art through motion on Tuesday at Art in the Loft.

Christensen-Cooper said he received guidance on what math and science concepts needed to be incorporated into the art lessons. He said other concepts, such as fractions and geometry, will be incorporated into art projects the students will make.

For example, Christensen-Cooper has an art project about tessellations planned for students Wednesday, which integrates some geometry concepts. A tessellation is created when a shape is repeated over and over again on a surface without gaps or overlaps between them.

He said it is not the first time Art in the Loft and APS have worked together on projects. Christensen-Cooper said for the last decade, Art in the Loft has partnered with APS for a program called Ready, Set, Create!, where every fourth grader in the district comes to Art in the Loft during the school year.

Christensen-Cooper said APS officials approached him about the Summer of STEAM program after receiving Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which are federal funds that can be used for pandemic-related expenses.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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