Miami Beach Schools Are Integrating Arts Into Math And Science Class Curriculums

Apr 23, 2019
Originally published on April 24, 2019 12:07 pm

The City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County Public Schools' "STEAM Plus" pilot program, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math, is exposing students to the performing arts. The idea of STEAM Plus is to find ways in which the arts intersect with math and science programs. 

The program, which launched in February and is costing the city roughly $188,000, will impact more than 2,000 students from six schools in Miami Beach. Selected schools are partnered with cultural instutions like the The Bass Museum of Art, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony and others. Instructors from cultural institutions will teach students math and science using dance, music and art. Koren Illa, Education Outreach and Special Programs Coordinator for The Bass Art Museum, is one of the leads of the program and joined Sundial.

This has been edited lightly for clarity.

WLRN: There's always been a debate about protecting the arts in schools. Let's talk about how STEAM works.

ILLA: We're using the arts to further expand what the teachers are working on with the students. For example, in biology classes The Bass Museum has gone in and created three-dimensional beaded bracelets or key chains [to teach] the students about DNA samples and sequences. Students matched: A and T, G and C -- those both create a certain [DNA] sequence and they match [the beads] with the DNA model. It's really intricate. It's fun to watch as students explore the arts. We found that a lot of students unfortunately haven't explored some of these arts and it's just been amazing to watch.

Let's pick a class - a science class. How is ballet being tied in? How would that work?

Miami City Ballet has done an amazing job going into schools. One of the partners is actually Biscayne Elementary and the students are actually working on gravity -- push and pull. The students learned how gravity works in the dance world but also in the real world. They created movements and they actually put on a performance at the end of the program where they explained how gravity works and how push and pull works by creating superhero characters and integrating that science aspect.

In the past we would take a field trip somewhere and you'd go to the ballet, go to the museum...in this case you're going to the schools so they never have to leave.

[The students] are invited to take field trips to the institutions and we're ensuring that the field trips are geared towards a STEAM program. So when they visit the Bass they're not only looking at the contemporary art, but they're also integrating STEAM within the art component.

When we look at the Miami Mountain on Collins Park: How is a Miami Mountain created? What was the engineering and technology that took place in order to create that Miami Mountain? How did the artists put it together? Students learn about all those different elements that it took to create that piece which is a giant beautiful neon boulder sculpture.

What else would a student be doing?

Young Musicians United has done an amazing job. They're creating a coding class in which students are coding but they're also creating music through programming. Another project that we've done is with Nautilus Middle School where students created these beautiful costumes. The students learned about all the mathematics, the science, engineering and everything it takes to put on a production. They learned about lighting and technology and it's incredible how students don't realize how there is science in all of these elements ... in everything we do.

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