AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Hundreds of students from all across Georgia gathered at Augusta University Saturday to compete in MINDFRAME, the state’s first STEAM competition.
The event was designed by the assistant professor of STEAM education at Augusta University’s College of Education, Dr. Ashley Gess. She says the competition will help combat one of education’s most persistent misunderstandings: that effective STEM curricula only focus on teaching hard science and mathematics principles. “A lot of people use the term STEM as synonymous with science or synonymous with math or engineering. STEM is not a specific area of knowledge, but rather a structure for educating students,” she said.
Students compete in groups of two and seven, divided by age group; 4th and 5th grade students will complete separately from students in grades six through eight. The goal will be for students to work towards answering a driving question: “How can we keep the American Dream alive?” Pondering this question, along with reaching their goals in the competition, gave the students new perspectives. Ezra Dixon, from Spirit Creek Middle School, said he felt honored to be part of the competition. He had some advice for any student wanting to be in the competition next year. “Be open minded, and whenever you have the time to do anything, set your mind to what you want to do and actually do it," he said.
Teachers told Gess that they saw a transformation in the students because of this competition. Rosina Allen, a teacher at Spirit Creek Middle, said, “They really are going to be our dreamers, and they really are going to make America stand out, because they’re the future and they’re going to make it great." Gess added, “If you go and talk to these kids, they are dreaming again. They are owning being an American, and I think that’s awesome.”
Gess said STEAM is simply the result of including the “Arts” into a traditional STEM pedagogy. “If you look at the design process that underpins engineering and the process that underpins artistic design, they are parallel. The whole premise behind STEAM is we’re giving students the opportunity to construct understanding in the context of engineering or artistic design,” she said.
More than 90 students from across Georgia signed up to compete. They announced the winners of each category at 5 p.m.