The annual Nevada STEAM Conference was back in town earlier this past weekend at the Nevada Museum of Art. The conference is a professional development event for Pre-K to 12th-grade teachers from across the state. The goal to foster and support the integration of art into STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
This year, this was accomplished through the exhibit by Audubon, a naturalist illustrator whose images were scientifically accurate and ground breaking. Through his observation of birds in the wild, he was able to show migration patterns, illustrate the animals by scale for a detailed visual, and even noticed the decline in population and issues with the ecosystem through his artistic research.
Workshops were held throughout the day and in various locations to show teachers what strategies and activities they can use with their students. These ranged from using simple art supplies, such as paint and paper, to utilizing modern technology such as an iPad. The intention of the exercises is to combine math, science, technology, and engineering with the arts so students are able to receive their fine arts education but still obtain skills needed for the future of technology for Nevada.
The First Club was there to feature exactly what this looks like. First is a robotics club that kids of all ages are able to partake in to compete against other teams. Two age groups were representing the club at the conference: the LEGO League and the Tech Challenge.
The LEGO League age group was tasked with creating miniature robots using Legos to perform space-related tasks, such as retrieving a Lego satellite. The Teach Challenge age group had to design a rover-like robot that can sort blocks based on color. The two teams won the state competition and will advance to the next level.
It’s this form of science integrated with creativity that is what the STEAM conference is hoping to achieve throughout Nevada. This year was the largest conference, with projections for more growth in the future. A new platform of teaching will reawaken the often forgotten art education while not compromising on STEM education.
This truly is the future of Nevada.
Kylie Masznicz is a recent graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, where she studied English with a concentration in writing with a minor in Communication Studies. She writes culture pieces for ThisIsReno, but her work has also been featured on Broadway Baby and Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal. Her goal is to write a novel. She enjoys art of all forms, but chooses to express her own creativity through writing, music, and nail art. She also collects Christmas sweaters and has enough to wear one everyday from Thanksgiving to New Years.