Teachers’ use of Lending Library gives students access to state-of-the-art technology

Keystone Oaks School District  |  Posted on
image of KO kindgergarteners elem STEAM program

Kindergarten students cross their fingers in hope that they programmed their Bee Bot to reach the correct sight word.

In the first year of Keystone Oaks School District’s elementary STEAM program, teachers Jennifer Martin and Aaron Colf have embodied the principles that STEAM programs strive to instill in their students: collaboration and team work, risk taking, creative and critical thinking, curiosity and communication. It started with Martin and Colf spending a large part of their summer with Dr. Shannon Varley, Keystone Oaks’ director of curriculum, instruction, assessment & staff development, planning the curriculum and the projects that students would complete in the new STEAM class. Then, the new program really began to move full “steam” ahead. Martin and Colf attended a number of professional development programs at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Center for Creativity, giving them access to the STEAM Lending Library, a resource room filled with equipment, such as Bee Bots, littleBits, Puzzlets, and Makey Makeys, that teachers can borrow to experiment with in their classrooms. At Keystone Oaks, students in kindergarten through fifth grade have been able to use all of this equipment this year! “The Lending Library has been an invaluable resource to our elementary STEAM program in its first year,” said Aiken Elementary STEAM teacher Colf. “For teachers to be able to try equipment and determine if it’s a fit for the curriculum is a wonderful opportunity for districts. The Bee Bots were a hit with the students and fit nicely with the coding and programming aspects of our STEAM program, so the district purchased a set for each elementary school,” Colf added. The Lending Library is supported by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and Keystone Oaks’ use of the library’s tools and resources has not gone unnoticed. Martin and Colf were selected for a short documentary about the Lending Library that was shown in March during the Root Sports Charity Night event, which benefits the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. “While we are certainly glad to be recognized for our work, it is really the students who have brought the STEAM program to fruition and have embraced new technologies and ways of doing things,” said Martin, who teaches STEAM at Dormont & Mrytle elementary schools. “We are extremely grateful to the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Lending Library for supporting STEAM in the classroom and giving our students access to resources that they otherwise would not have available to them.”