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 or Paul Cindric at

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:

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




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

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

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

Visit again as we update this webpage frequently!


Welcome Back to the Institute of Play!

Program Name: TeacherQuest

A fresh approach to professional development designed to empower teachers as designers, increase student engagement and re-imagine what teaching can be through games and game-like learning.

Overview: TeacherQuest is a FREE professional development program for teachers interested in integrating games (digital and analog) and game-like learning into their practice. The program includes an intensive in-person Summer Institute from June 16-20, complemented by a series of online project-based design challenges through April 2015.

Applicants: TeacherQuest is open to middle school teachers and other intermediate-level educators in Allegheny County from public, private, or charter schools. Educators should sign up in teams of two. For example, a team could be two teachers from the same school; a literacy coach and a teacher that work together; two teachers from the same district; a teacher and a school administrator, etc. Previous experience with the use of games and learning is welcome, but not required!

Informational workshops* will be held at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in the transformED space on the following dates:

  • April 8th, 4 – 5:30 pm
  • April 9th, 9 – 10:30 am
  • April 9th, 2 – 3:30 pm

Sign up for one of the workshops here

*Attending informational workshops is not required to apply.

Application Process

To be considered, educators should complete this application:

Applicants must also have a reference fill out a recommendation. A direct link to the recommendation form is here). You can also access a form email with a description of the program and the link embedded here.

Applications are due April 30th, 2014.

Credits: Participants will receive two CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credits. Both credits will be awarded upon the completion of the program.

Stipend: Each participant will receive a $500 stipend for TeacherQuest.  $250 will be given in June following the Summer Intensive, then the remaining $250 will be given upon the completion of the program.

Detailed Description:  At Quest to Learn in New York City and ChicagoQuest in Chicago, teachers learn how to design experiences that tap the pedagogical power of games to increase student engagement, activate key 21st Century skills, and improve learning outcomes. Now, the same curriculum and support is available to teachers everywhere through TeacherQuest, a new professional development program based on the Quest model of game-like learning.

TeacherQuest is designed to support educators who work with a range of grades and subject areas. The program includes an intensive in-person Summer Institute, complemented by a series of hands-on and online workshops with project-based design challenges through April 2015. Teachers who participate in the Summer Institute will leave with: a toolkit of strategies that effectively integrate games (digital and analog) into their teaching practice to increase student learning and engagement; a connection to an online community dedicated to supporting continuing education; and a set of analog games of their own design and from our existing game library – ready to use in classrooms for the 2014-2015 school year.  Participants in the program will receive online professional development support through April 2015.

Created by Institute of Play, the non-profit learning design studio behind Quest schools, TeacherQuest will be piloted in Summer 2014 in partnership with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) in Pittsburgh. The Institute and AIU previously partnered to pilot the MobileQuest CoLab professional development program in Summer 2013. Learn more here.

2013 MobileQuest CoLab from Institute of Play on Vimeo.

Register for an Informational Workshop

TeacherQuest Application

 Watch the IOP Video Here

Download location for remote play

Harness the Power of Games


TeacherQuest is a FREE professional development program for Middle School teachers in Allegheny County who are interested in integrating games and game-like learning into their practice.  The program includes an intensive in-person Summer Institute in June, complimented by a series of project-based design challenges throughout the year. 

Interested in knowing more? Sign up for one of our April informational workshops here:

Dates: April 8th, 4:00 – 5:30pm     April 9th, 9:00 – 10:30am    April 9th, 2:00 – 3:30pm

During this workshop, you will get a preview of TeacherQuest and learn how games and game-like learning can help you think like a designer, increase student engagement, and re-imagine what teaching can be. These informational sessions will be held in the transformED space at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. 

Email Megan Cicconi at for more information. 

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!

Full STEAM ahead for Fox Chapel

Yesterday the Fox Chapel School District hosted an open house for their innovative Creativity and Literacy Program, one of twenty-five STEAM Grants awarded by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Center for Creativity.

Funded by the Grable and Benedum foundations, the 2013-2014 STEAM grant projects focused on “spaces and places”. The Fox Chapel project epitomizes the hopes for integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics into the classroom and community. Located at Kerr Elementary, the project offers kindergarten students, early childhood community members, and parents an opportunity to explore, create, and make in a state of the art space designed to meet the needs of little hands and minds. Administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers offer classes targeted at all STEAM concepts while infusing literacy throughout the programs. While the center offers a plethora of opportunities for engaging young children, the project team has initiated an outreach component as well. We at the CfC are anxiously awaiting the next phase of the project

Brentwood Creativity Cadre

Jennifer Ehehalt of Common Sense Media engages the Brentwood Creativity Cadre in a wealth of digital resources and tools available to teachers.

The Brentwood Borough School District has embarked on a year-long quest to plan for more engaging student experiences in the digital age. Newly appointed district curriculum coordinator, Lindsay Klousnitzer, has convened a group of teachers known as the “Brentwood Creativity Cadre” and charged them with the task of investigating effective and contemporary ways of educating students in the 21st Century.  This eager gathering of teachers began meeting at the beginning of the current school year exploring topics like Design Thinking and how it can be applied across many discipline areas. The group is composed of a diverse set of teachers ranging from music to computer technology instructors.  Despite the differences in their content areas, the Cadre is finding unifying elements in the themes they are researching.

Larry Berger and Sarah Siplak of SLB Radio have the group consider the effectiveness of audio applications with students.

The team met recently in the transformED space at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit for a day of exposure and reflection upon new digital learning methods.  During the day, teachers kept notes using iPads and an app called Lino to post virtual sticky notes for review at follow up session.  Throughout the day, they explored 3D printing, game-based learning, audio studio applications, e-textiles, and digital apps and iPads.  Brentwood is partnering with the Center for Creativity to lead the Cadre through a variety of experiences during the year to select the best avenues for their district to employ STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) and prepare their students for career and college readiness.  At the center of their collective goal lies the best interests of the students of Brentwood.

Nikki Navta of Zulama challenges the Brentwood Cadre to consider the impact of game-based learning on students.

Champions of Change

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Center for Creativity and its partner, Common Sense Media, rounded out Connected Educator Month by recognizing “Champions of Change” from within area school districts.  The award acknowledges those educators and leaders who use a creative approach to enhance learning and who serve as an example of what we strive for in every classroom, for every child.  Champions of Change embrace technology and seek new and effective ways to engage children in the learning process. The award ceremony, held in the Center for Creativity’s unique transformED space, followed a luncheon for all honorees and their district nominators.

Dr. Linda Hippert, Executive Director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, presents the Champion of Change award to Quaker Valley Middle School educator Tom Forrest.

Recognizing Champions of Change within schools is a part of a national program promoted by the White House, which seeks to honor those who “are doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”  This truly inspiring gathering of Allegheny County educators exemplifies why our region is a leader in education and innovation in the country.  Join with the Center for Creativity and Common Sense Media as we recognize our 2013 “ConnectED” Champions of Change and their districts:

Sue Mellon – Allegheny Valley

Doug Haskins – Avonworth

Christopher Reilsono – Baldwin Whitehall

Beau Sedlar – Brentwood School District

Don Zier – Chartiers Valley

Donald McFann – East Allegheny

Chris Estadt – Elizabeth Forward

Steve Reese – Gateway

Doug Macek – Montour

Bill Griffith – Montour

Karyn Dobda – North Allegheny

Elizabeth Spicer – North Hills

Lisa Harajda – Penn Hills

Amy Yohe – Penn Hills

Missy Karkowsky – Plum

Tom Forrest – Quaker Valley

Kara Eckert – Shaler

Scott Sundgren – South Fayette

Dawn Byron – South Park

Janice Jackovic – South Park

Matt Henderson – Upper Saint Clair

Leah Vestal – West Allegheny

Matt Betler – West Jefferson Hills

Martin Sharp – Woodland Hills

Dr. Bart Rocco, Superintendent of Elizabeth Forward, congratulates Champion of Change winner Chris Estadt, a Kindergarten teacher in the district, on her award.