Groton on the Inside: Groton’s STEAM Learning Center: from dream to reality

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From the capital project that was approved by Groton’s voters in February 2016, to the submission of plans to the New York State Education Department in the summer of 2017, to the present, the Groton STEAM Lab is finally up and running!


Although the space still has some finishing touches that will likely not be fully completed until the end of December, the students have been busy and creative so far this semester; pursuing courses of study in four different career clusters: building trades and mechanical systems, computer science, engineering and electronics, and communications and media arts.


Reshaping the way we think about education, these programs will teach students how to think – not what to think. Students will be asked to process and analyze information, and use it to solve real-world, current industry challenges presented to them by local business partners.


Already completed by the building trades and mechanical systems classes are benches and landscape for the Outdoor Classroom, located on a peninsula created by the Owasco Inlet. The construction team has been on educational field trips to Austin Machine in Cortland and Baker-Miller Lumber here in Groton, providing educational insight into the world of work. They have trips coming up to Gutchess Lumber and Kennedy Hardwoods in Preble.


Students in the communications cluster, specifically the graphics design class, have been working on a logo design project for Groton Harvest. This is a real-world project for students to see what it is like to be an authentic graphic designer. The students’ logos have been presented to a board from the Groton Harvest initiative and one will be chosen as the actual design for the program, so stay tuned to this column to find out whose design is the winner.


At the beginning of the year, the class completed a photography assignment on the Elements and Principles of Art and Design. Since then, the class has been working on becoming comfortable with Adobe Illustrator by completing a variety of lessons on the tools and their functions.


Currently, the computer programming group is discussing the design process, looking at products for users, getting feedback, and developing items based on real-world needs. The class will be using these to build a basic social media app within a structured javascript framework. So far, the cluster has created websites, created an online greeting card, and have created four short video games.


In the engineering cluster, the students are currently using 3-D modeling software to design a gear system for a solar system model that will consist of the eight planets orbiting the sun at the correct relative rotational speeds. They are also learning to use VeX materials, which they will use for several projects later in the course, including control systems and robotics.


The STEAM students have also had opportunities to hear from guest speakers on topics like digital footprints, and a glimpse at the “digital tattoo” and how employers are viewing potential employees’ social media before hiring them. Ashley McGraw architects came in to teach students how to use REVIT, the industry standard CAD program.


One of the main goals of the STEAM program is to build those community-school partnerships where students have the opportunity to work directly with people in the field. Plans for the remainder of the school year include a partnership with Jeff Cronk of C&D Assembly, for students to tour and work at the facility, and for Cronk to teach a mini-unit on soldering in the STEAM center. Numerous other partnerships are still in the works.


This center is an incredible resource for our students, and I hope this snapshot of its offerings elicit some of the same feelings of excitement for them that the students are experiencing as they learn and work and grow in it.

Library exceeds campaign goal
The “Campaign to Grow the Groton Public Library”, conducted under the auspices of the Friends of the Groton Public Library, has not only met its goal but has exceeded it! Campaign chair, Carl Haynes, reported that as of Oct. 31, $156,188 of the $150,000 goal has been raised.


On behalf of the Friends of GPL, Haynes has extended heartfelt thanks to “all the nearly one hundred individuals, local businesses, and community foundations who so generously gave to our campaign. While the $700,000 in State grants awarded us through Senator Seward and Assemblywoman Lifton are significant to our expansion, the local support through your donations was vital to qualify for these State funds.”


The expansion plans, under the direction of the GPL Board of Trustees, are well underway, with hopes of breaking ground sometime next spring or early summer.


In the meantime, opportunities for great programs continue. GPL’s monthly book club will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. Stop in for a copy of this month’s read, “The Shack” by William Young, and make plans to join the discussion at the monthly meeting.


Tween Night is happening from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 with a showing of the movie “Hotel Transylvania 3” (rated PG), Minecraft, iPads, Legos, free pizza and snacks, and more. Parents must come into the library to sign their children in. Pick-up is at 9:30 p.m. SHARP!


The free monthly community meal at the GPL will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20. They will be serving turkey dinner with all the trimmings, so bring your family or friends, or come and make new friends.


Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or (607) 227-4922

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