2014-2015 STEAM Grant Winners Announced

The Center for Creativity is pleased to announce those districts who were awarded STEAM Grants for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.  The twenty-five 2014-2015 STEAM Grant recipients were selected from among 90 requests received by the Center for Creativity from around Western Pennsylvania. Schools and districts submitted thoughtful proposals of how they would transform a “space or place” within their buildings to one that encompasses an integrated approach to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) learning.  The grants, awarded for the past five years, have been used as catalysts to transform schools into centers of 21st Century learning.

 Join the Center for Creativity as we congratulate the following STEAM Grant winners:

Teacher Quest Takes Pittsburgh by Storm!

Educators from Allegheny County public schools have been coming to the AIU all week long to participate in Teacher Quest.   The program empowers teachers to transform into designers, increasing student engagement and re-imagining what teaching can be through games and game-like learning!  Eighteen educators learn the foundations of game design as they begin to think differently about teaching and learning. 

Ameer, a Learning Designer from Institute of Play, said, ” Teachers at Pittsburgh’s Teacher Quest are being actively engaged in the game design process as they become master game designers for their own classrooms” .

If you want to engage kids you have to show them how to be engaged. The best way to do that is through game like learning” ~Tricia George

Regency Park’s STEAM Lab Shines

A visit to Plum’s Regency Park STEAM Lab is sure to inspire! The Regency park sixth graders spent this week learning with LEGOs. They used the LEGO Education kits in the STEAM Lab. Students started the week using the sets related to math. In small groups students constructed two math focused LEGOs to start the LEGO unit.  Next they constructed a goal keeper and a goal kicker. The students used ratios to compare the goals made to the goals that were blocked with the goal keeper. They also found the probability and percent of goals that were blocked, missed and scored. When students built the kicker, they found the distance a ball traveled when kicked.  To do this they used three different balls (a paper ball, a ping pong ball and a bouncy ball). Once the data was collected, the students converted and compared their measurements from centimeters to three other units within the metric system. Next, students worked in larger groups and built both the goal keeper and the kicker.   Students then played a game of soccer keeping track of goals scored, shots missed, and shots blocked. The students then compared the numbers in ratios again.  Finally, they used the science LEGO activities and the students were given a choice of building a dancing bird, a drumming monkey, or a spinning top. With each option, the students needed to make changes to the gears and pulley systems to see the changes in the objects’ behaviors. Many students had the opportunity to make more than one. The math and science activities incorporated into the lessons allowed the students to learn both with and without the packet. The students built and made modifications to the LEGOs for the best outcomes. The technology of the LEGO program allowed the sixth grade at Regency to see a practical use of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math during the five days the activity was incorporated into their curriculum.  The students were developing hypotheses as well as doing trial and error tests to find answers. The students at Regency discovered much more than math during the past week, they explored their interest in learning through LEGOs. Check out the student driven exploration in this short video clip!


History Near You!

Jason Smith and Melissa DeSimone of Avonworth and Robert Stakeley of the Heinz History Center discuss their collaborative roles in creating a local history project.

The Social Studies Network concluded its 2013-2014 Resource and Collaboration Days professional development series on a local note with the event entitled, History Near You, held on April 10, 2014 in the transformED space at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.  The day provided Social Studies educators in Allegheny County with the resources and inspiration to design local history units for their students. The teachers were joined by representatives from the Heinz History Center, Soldiers & Sailors Museum, Frick Art & Historical Center, McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, Ben Avon Area Historical Society, and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

Louise Sturgess of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation challenges teachers to a historical sequencing activity on the history of Pittsburgh.

The day began with a demonstration of a successful local history project implemented by the Avonworth School District.  Avonworth Middle School teachers Jason Smith and Melissa DeSimone detailed how they partnered with the Ben Avon Area Historical Society and the Heinz History Center to create an experience for students that involved them in the exploration of a local topic.  The students were first instructed in the use of research skills, working with primary resources, and oral history.  They then leveraged the resources of the local historical society and community to conduct a research project that would address and promote a local issue.

Avonworth M.S. students at the Ben Avon Area Historical Society conducting research under the direction of Richard Herchenroether and Robert Stakeley.

In this second year of the project, the students, in addition to conducting research, are required to keep a journal, create and give a three to five minute presentation, compile a works cited document, and volunteer hours at the Ben Avon Society. The project dovetails nicely with the district’s initiative of incorporating project based learning into their instruction.  In addition, the students are employing critical career and workforce skills necessary in a contemporary 21st Century environment, specifically gaining multiple perspectives through the use of primary source documents that are… History Near You!


The Center for Creativity at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit is pleased to offer regional districts the opportunity to apply for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) grants. Funded by the Grable and Benedum Foundations, the grants are available to schools in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland counties. STEAM encourages a commitment to creativity, contextual thinking, and other aptitudes deemed critical to college and career readiness demands of the 21st Century. The Center for Creativity supports endeavors that strive toward achieving these goals in innovative and creative ways.


If you wish to be considered for a STEAM grant please complete the attached Request for Proposal. This year we will be awarding grants up to $20,000. Considered grant proposals must include an integrated approach that truly embodies STEAM learning in a meaningful manner.  The focus, once again, is on creating spaces and places where STEAM concepts can thrive and serve as a model for other districts.

Proposals must be submitted electronically and received by May 2, 2014, with the expectation that projects will commence early in the 2014-2015 school year. You will be notified of your grant status by June 6, 2014.

Districts may submit multiple applications, but only one grant will be awarded per district. Please feel free to disseminate this RFP to teachers and administrators.


General Grant Information

Purpose of Grant Program:  To support school districts located in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, Beaver, Butler and Westmoreland counties as they integrate science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) into K-12 public schools in an innovative and engaging manner.


Grant Directions:  To apply for a grant, please complete and submit this form. Acknowledgement of your application will be sent upon receipt. If you have any questions about this form or the application process, please E-mail:  Megan Cicconi at megan.cicconi@aiu3.net or Paul Cindric at paul.cindric@aiu3.net.

Your proposal must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on May 2, 2014.

Grant Amount: $20,000 maximum

Grant Submission:  Press the submit button on page 4 of the application, from the following link: https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=6sCAXVMjiuvAstRahRduoA.

Grant Criteria:  Projects will be reviewed based on the STEAM Grant Rubric Categories indicated on page 4 of the application. For inspiration and to review previous grant recipients, please visit the Center for Creativity at tinyurl.com/AIUSTEAM2014.




Exemplary 2013-2014 STEAM Grant

Considering applying for a 2014-2015 STEAM Grant?

Then take some time to peruse a few of the best and brightest from this year’s projects!


Butler’s SMArT Lab: A re-purposed space designed to engage students and teachers in STEAM education through project based learning and free-form making. Contact Tad Campagna  at tad_campagna@butler.k12.pa.us

Chartiers Valley Locomotion Lab: A learning environment that combines art and science through exploration and in-depth studies of robotics, design, and repurposing materials.

Contact Mary Mastren-Williams at mwilliams@cvsd.net

Elizabeth Forward’s DREAM Factory: A three-room wing of the middle school has been transformed into a design space where create projects utilizing a cross-disciplinary team of teachers in a maker atmosphere.


Fox Chapel Creative Learning Maker Studio: Develop a creative early learning maker studio utilizing digital media to build skills in literacy and the STEAM areas.

Contact Alison Francis at Alison_Francis@fcasd.edu

Visit again as we update this webpage frequently!


Blackhawk C3 Lab

Upon entering the C3 Lab at Blackhawk High School visitors see the acronym’s meaning embodied in the flurry of student activity. Collaboration, Competition, and Creation are realized in every aspect of the lab. Student designed and manufactured parts from the MakerBot 3D printer are used to fix broken equipment. A bright red square was perfectly created to replace a missing tripod mount; the flimsy paper-cutter handle was replaced with a sturdy and perfectly angled arm; and after a drill-case’s unfortunate run in with a table saw, Nick, a twelfth grade Technology Student Association (TSA) team member, designed and printed a new one with a few upgrades and improvements! The students’ effortless application of STEAM concepts demonstrate how truly connected Mr. Dale Moll’s curriculum and teaching are to authentic applications.  

Mr. Dale Moll’s class also includes the practical, a replacement for a damaged drill case, designed and created by his students.

Using equipment purchased with a 2013 STEAM Grant, students in Digital Photography, CAD I, CAD II, 3D Modeling, A.P. Bio, Chemistry, Art, and TSA connect curricular objectives from a variety of applications to real world challenges. Through coteaching and cross curricular collaboration on behalf of the faculty, Blackhawk students utilize 123D Design and 123D Capture to create intricate cells in Biology; Art students use apps to virtually sculpt and then print their creations using multicolored filament on the MakerBot; Social Studies students recreate artifacts as they integrate the PA Core’s primary source connection into their exploration of U.S. History. 

Mr. Moll organizes applications for student use on his Mac Book, purchased with STEAM Grant funds. 


While three Apple tvs, 22 iPads and cases, two MakerBot 3D printers, projectors, colored printer filaments, countless apps, a MacBook, and a plethora of connecting devices were provided through the Center for Creativity’s STEAM Grant the meticulous research and planning, the immeasurable passion, and the perfect execution of the C3 Lab STEAM Project can all be attributed to Blackhawks dedication to integrating STEAM into their school.  With a newly created STEM requirement for graduation, surely C3 is only the beginning of STEAM’s pathway for success.

A student chooses from a myriad of filament colors to create a product on the C3 Lab’s Makerbot 3D printer for a class project.

EFMS Dream Factory

Brooke Gipe, an eighth grade student at Elizabeth Forward Middle School, demonstrates the Maker Bot, a 3D printer, in the school’s new Dream Factory.

In the naming of the “Dream Factory”, a unique wing of its Middle School focusing on 21st Century skills, the Elizabeth Forward School District has captured not only the essence of its new transformative curriculum for sixth through eighth graders, but the destiny of the entire district and community.  In its latest endeavor to make learning relevant to the needs of contemporary students in a modern world, Elizabeth Forward has again boldly gone where no district has gone before, empowering their students to work collaboratively to ask questions and solve problems.  Those solutions, however, utilize the most up-to-date methods and tools, including apps for designing, making, creating, and sculpting.  3D printers bring student designs to life right before their eyes!

Dr. Bart Rocco, Superintendent of Elizabeth Forward, embodies true leadership in allowing his district team to prosper in an environment where creative ideas are encouraged.

The EFMS Dream Factory is a collaboration between Computer Science, Technology, and Arts education.  This novel combination allows students to make connections between these areas via an integrated curriculum in which skills from each of these areas are seen as complimentary to one another.  Similar 21st Century skills like problem solving and collaboration are taught in all three disciplines with the latest technology leveraged as a tool in finding solutions.  Sixth and seventh grade students learn and practice these critical skills.  In eighth grade, the children are ready to tackle challenges of their choosing and “dream” up avenues for solutions.  Their dreams become realities, however, when they use the skills and technology they’ve learned to produce a tangible product.

Riley Snyder, an 8th grade EFMS student, demonstrates how he designed, then created a flight wing on his iPad.

The district’s initiatives focus on technology as a tool, not a learning outcome.  Dr. Bart Rocco, the district superintendent, acknowledges that they have raised the bar, even for themselves.  As technology, students, and the world changes, so must the district.  However, with a forward-thinking staff, including Dr. Todd Keruskin, Elizabeth Forward Assistant Superintendent, who has spearheaded many of the new endeavors, the school district is proactive in seeking solutions to contemporary challenges using modern technology… just like they’re having their students do!

Through its tireless and creative commitment to 21st Century learning, the team at Elizabeth Forward has made an ordinary district, extraordinary!

Utilizing their STEAM Grant, the district was able to purchase the technology and equipment to make the Dream Factory.  By a literal walk down Innovation Hall, a corridor connecting the Dream Factory classrooms that is filled with an inspirational timeline of inventions through history, students can encounter all three newly renewed classrooms that resemble a digital art classroom,a contemporary tech shop, and a lab for computer science/programming and design.

Sto-Rox Leads the Way

Sto-Rox high school students meticulously synchronize animation text with audio music during an intense creative process.

In his many years as a Social Studies teacher, Jeff Hackett never imagined that his avocation for video production would fuse with his teaching career in the Sto-Rox school district. Those two passions, teaching and video producing, converged however, a few years ago when he seized the opportunity to convert a portion of the school library into a dynamic Creative Media Technology Learning Center.  In a short time, Mr. Hackett and fellow teacher Dan Funk are poised to have Sto-Rox in the front lines of digital media production.  The teachers’ desire to create a new collaborative learning space including new technology with project-centered learning was advanced this year with their receipt of a STEAM Grant from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Center for Creativity.

Mr. Hackett guides a student in the use of their New Tech Tricaster, purchased with help from their STEAM Grant.

Drawing upon his many years working in Game Night Entertainment for the Penguins, Jeff Hackett leverages his professional knowledge in media to provide market-relevant skills to his students.  Different groups of students work as a team to produce a daily television show featuring news from the school and local area.  Each second must be accounted for in a production as the learners follow a “format” which is a detailed schedule.  Mr. Hackett uses a genuine format from a Penguins game as a real-life example to students on this critical component to video production.

In their quest to “harness the power of streaming” the Sto-Rox students plan to produce content from school functions as well as from remote locations.  The students have plans to video events at the local Fr. Ryan Arts Center including musical and stage performances.  Mr. Hackett explains, “these kids are getting way more out of this than making a video, they are learning job skills like teamwork, interviewing, working with clients, editing, and experience in using industry-standard equipment.”  He also envisions having the students work with a cable outlet to create and produce local segments.

A student checks camera angles and lighting in the Sto-Rox Creative Media Technology Learning Center.

Technology Education teacher Dan Funk will complement the district’s digital media focus by facilitating the gaming curriculum in the second semester.  Utilizing Construct 2, a game creation tool, students will learn game logic and coding to create compelling games. This emphasis on computational thinking is critical to the workforce needs of the 21st Century. Because of their focus on the new frontier of digital learning, Sto-Rox High School is positioned to be a leader in the region, thanks to visionary teachers and hard-working students who are engaged real-life learning!