STEAM education uses arts integration as an instructional approach — and for experiential and inquiry-based learning — and provides multiple access points for students to engage in the creative process and meet objectives in all subject areas

- Education Commission of the States

Per the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM, "STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process."

Recent research shows that STEAM is a promising approach to positively impacting student achievement. In a 2016 study, researchers investigated the impact of STEAM lessons on physical science learning in grades 3 to 5 found that students who received just nine hours of STEAM instruction made improvements in their science achievement. (, Brouillette, L., & Graham, N. J.)

An international study published in the Journal of Educational Change found that secondary teachers’ reflections “revealed inter-, trans- and cross-disciplinary learning shaped by teacher collaboration, dialogue and classroom organization that fosters critical and creative thinking.” (, Anne Harris and Leon R. de Bruin)

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) is interested in seeing these type of results in our region. Through a few recent grants, it is supporting STEAM education in our region.

Participants in the West Virginia Deaf Service Center Drone Team pause for a photo during their recent trip to Dallas, TX.

A $750 PACF grant to the West Virginia Deaf Service Center Drone Team demonstrates how small grants can make a big difference! The PACF's support enabled a team of five students with hearing impairments to participate in the REG Aerial Drone Foundation World Championship in Dallas, TX this past May.

"In addition to the opportunity to develop STEAM skills by piloting drones, participating in the drone competition gave these students many unique and exciting experiences," said April Hottle, with the WV Deaf Service Center. "Some were flying for the first time, and many had never been in large airports like Dallas. That was a meaningful and special opportunity for them. In Dallas, our students met other drone teams from across the U.S. and from around the world. They were great representatives of their state and the deaf community. Perhaps most importantly, these students were happy, respectful to their coaches and the referees at the drone competition, and totally engaged with everything around them. They did not waste a minute of the experience!"

This grant was made possible by the Judy Sjostedt Advised Fund and the Virginia Hackett Memorial Fund for Education.

Students at Madison Elementary experimenting with flying a drone.

Madison Elementary School's new COPTERS (Copter Opportunities for Programming Technology While Experiencing Real-World Scenarios) program, developed this past school year, is designed to motivate and inspire students to learn using multi-media tools. A $6,266 PACF grant enabled the school to purchase training, curriculum, materials, and equipment for the program, including educator lesson plans, operation manuals, student mission guides, an annual license for the Drone Legends Educator Portal, and six drones.

Three educators, including Fourth grade teacher Ruth Patrick, the school librarian, and the Technology Integration Specialist for Wood County Schools received training and then delivered programming for forty fourth grade students at the school.

Patrick has received additional funding for the project through the West Virginia Department of Education, enabling the school to purchase additional drones and expand the program for the 2022-23 school year.

This grant from the PACF was made possible by the Fund for Schools, Mid-Ohio Valley Endowment for Women, Children, and Families, and the Homer and Edith Hickman Charitable Fund

Youth participate in a STEAM-focused summer camp.

Students from the region enjoyed a summer camp in 2021 focused on STEAM thanks in part to a $6,000 PACF grant to the Ely Chapman Education Foundation. Ely Chapman worked with the Building Bridges to Careers (BB2C) Makerspace, whose staff led programming for campers on flight and aviation, including hands-on activities to build rockets and helicopters. Campers also worked on a project that involved building simple computers. PACF funding supported the development of STEAM project kits and helped to purchase supplies for project activities.

The summer camps served 116 students. A mom of one the campers shared that, “Ely Chapman has allowed my daughter to grow by having hands-on learning and many activities that she would not have access to, as we would not have been able to afford them.”

This grant from the PACF was made possible by the Esbenshade Advised Fund and the Virginia Hackett Memorial Fund for Education.

Through the Foundation's Spring 2022 Community Action Grants Program, Marietta College received a $14,500 grant to support its summer STEM Camp to promote STEM education and careers. The five-day, four-night sleep over camp was held July 11-15, 2022. Students learned about careers that require math, science, and engineering while becoming excited about the possibility of a college education in STEM. Students gained hands-on experience, learned problem solving techniques, explored science and engineering, and identified potential career paths. The camp also allowed students to experience a college campus by staying in the Marietta College dormitories and eating in its campus cafeteria.

This grant was made possible by the Parkersburg Bridge Partners Charitable Fund and the Mary M. Welch Advised Fund.

Interested in creating your own fund to support STEAM education in our region?