MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Board of Education was treated to a presentation on Monday evening during their regular meeting that highlighted STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) utilized in the English curriculum. Frequently, STEAM is implemented in math and science courses throughout each school in the district, but this brought a new dimension to the program.
For the 15th consecutive year, Ms. Ellen Hayes, Millburn High School English Teacher, assigned an extensive research project on Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, which required students to use all aspects of STEAM. Hayes and a group of students presented their work to the Board of Education spotlighting their multi-dimensional progress made through the unique project. Each group researched a character of choice from the story and his or her social stature. This year Hayes and the BOE were treated to a unique take on the project, a first in its 15-year history.
"We chose to base our project on the author Geoffrey Chaucer because out of all the years Mrs. Hayes has been doing this project, nobody has ever done Chaucer," said Patrick Fitzsimmons, one of the five students in the group. "So my group decided it would be cool to be the first to do the paper costume project on Chaucer and then everyone in future years doing this project can see how creative this project allows you to be."
Along with Fitzsimmons, Renee Levine, Joe Petrilli, Tele Adeyemo, and Drew Basarab were required to create a costume, made entirely out of paper, representative of Chaucer himself. In the costume, the group was able to incorporate each aspect of STEAM.
In the sleeves, science and engineering were prevalent through the students' use of duct tape and Velcro. For the research portion, the Juniors utilized MHS databases and online texts in the library. MHS librarian Ms. LaDawna Harington exposed each of Hayes' classes to the various resources the library has to offer in a lecture to the class. The students presented their information through the art of their costume.
Levine, who took the lead on the artistic portion of the project, included different types of papers and paint to give the costume a leathery look. She insisted on the royal color red to represent the royal mindset Chaucer exhibited. In the end, what separated the costume from an art project was the math needed to successfully tailor the costume to one student. Each angle and measurement was taken by the students to ensure that one of them could fit the costume and meet the requirements of the project.
Their efforts are another example of Millburn schools at the forefront of incorporating the growing implementation of STEAM in the modern educational environment.