BPMS students combine arts and science

BIG PINEY– Big Piney Middle School students became artist-explorers last week thanks to a STEAM-based arts residency funded by Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Jonah Energy and Western Sublette No. 9 BOCES and presented by the Pinedale Fine Arts Council (PFAC).

Instructors Tyler and Monica Aiello from the Denver-based education organization, Eurekus, worked with Kristi Hibbert’s sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Students focused on basic and more complex elements of engineering through the construction of small, colorful machines.

Sixth-grade students constructed high-tech terrariums while seventh graders made “Skitter Critters” using complex electronics and designing light-activated robots. Eighth graders constructed motor racers with simple circuits and propellers and then held races at the Big Piney auditorium.

The Marathon Petroleum Foundation recently awarded an $8,000 grant to PFAC which funded the STEAM program at BPMS in late March and will fund the program in Pinedale in May. Jonah Energy awarded a $2,000 grant to cover supplies for both programs. Western Sublette BOCES No. 9 covered all the additional costs.

STEAM is a movement to add the arts into the traditional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. This helps students think creatively and learn to start from scratch when engineering projects.

“We feel that the arts education effort of PFAC, is very important to the communities of Big Piney and Pinedale,” said Kristine Burton-Bacheller of Marathon Petroleum. “Art works together with science, technology, engineering and math to create a more thorough education opportunity for our students. PFAC brings a program that would be unavailable to the children otherwise. They are most deserving of this grant.”

“Jonah Energy is thankful for the opportunity to support integrating Arts into the STEM Skills,” said Karen Olsen, community and government relations coordinator at Johan Energy. “Science, technology, engineering and math are critical to success in school and life.  The STEAM Project provides opportunities for our youth to discover their creativity and connect them with global thinking.  These projects, whether it was the Hi Tech Terrariums, Skitter Critters or the Motor Racers offered just that opportunity while also creating a sense of pride and accomplishment.  It was fun to see the students’ energy with their creations.”


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