Tualatin Valley Academy Integrates STEAM

August 21, 2016 | Rachel Blackburn

Integrating science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) in school curriculum has generated a lot of interest recently. Tualatin Valley Academy (TVA) in Hillsboro is steadily working toward STEAM integration in all classes, from preschool through ninth grade. This year, TVA students participated in several unique projects on the STEAM front.

Preschoolers worked in teams to create a slide for pompoms using paper towel tubes and tape. Their creativity, communication and teamwork skills were put to the test as they engineered their slides.

Third-graders put on a Christmas play featuring Bible superheroes like Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, shepherds and angels. Participating in a play taught them memorization, public speaking skills and teamwork.

Fifth- and sixth-graders studied animals in science class last fall and then used their art skills to make models of the animals they had studied, increasing their understanding of how and why the animals function the way they do.

Seventh- and eighth-graders participated in communication technology, a class that brings communication and technology together via photography, photo editing, video creation and music editing. Students designed, shot and edited video, utilizing green screen and motion capture to produce their end-of-the-year video. Middle school students also participated in a Working Models class. One of the projects they created were model rockets, which integrated science, technology, engineering and math.

After-school programs emphasized STEAM as well. One class taught students in kindergarten through fifth grade to work in teams to engineer with Lego blocks. Another class taught students in grades two through eight computer programming using Scratch and Python.

Next year, TVA is offering a class called Project Integration for high school students. The class focuses on helping students understand how the skills they are learning in their core curriculum classes can be integrated into real-world projects. Critical thinking, creative problem solving and teamwork will all be emphasized, and many projects will have a service or mission focus. Elements of photography, videography, music and music editing, 3-D modeling, graphic design, web design and computer programming will be taught. Students will begin building an online portfolio to present to colleges during their college application process.

Tualatin Valley Academy is focused on providing students with a high-quality, relevant education that adequately prepares them for college and beyond. This focus has not gone unnoticed, and TVA’s enrollment is growing, including an expansion to ninth grade this fall. God is working at TVA, and we are excited to see what His plans are for this next school year.