Port of LA High School

Heating up the classroom with STEAM

Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) STEAM Team is holding a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) festival on March 9 at the Warner Grand Theater to display the results of the STEAM initiative in POLAH classrooms and promote the use of STEAM to further integrate art into the field of STEM.

Founded by senior Gabby Paras, POLAHS STEAM Team is dedicated to promoting this field as well as integrating art into the classroom in order to facilitate a more productive and creative learning environment.

In 2015, Paras received the honor of becoming a Bezos Scholar and attended a convention in Aspen, Colo. with her college counselor Kevin Yourman. As a culminating project, Paras was required to create an “ideas festival,” and one of the ideas that resonated with her was the STEAM initiative.

“I chose STEAM as my target for my culminating project for the Bezos Scholars Program because personally, my two weakest subjects, math and science, are the two I’m most passionate about,” said Paras. “I try to challenge myself by taking higher-level STEM courses, and as a coping mechanism, I try to implement my creative side when dealing with these very heavy analytical subjects.”

Using money from grants received from Girl’s Build LA and the Bezos Foundation, Paras formed her STEAM Team with the goal of holding the STEAM Festival and spreading awareness about STEAM.

The STEAM Team is comprised of student volunteers who agreed to help Paras and Yourman. It currently consists of president Gabby Paras, 11 other seniors, one junior and one sophomore.

“I did STEAM because Gabby asked me to and I wanted to help,” said STEAM member senior Shellsea Miller. “Jaida [Nabayan] and I work on getting prizes for the winners of the talent show in the [STEAM] festival.”

The STEAM Team made presentations to the science and math teachers hoping to convince them to use the STEAM initiative in the classroom.

“I think STEAM is a very creative thing we can do in the classroom,” said science teacher Karen Wang. “The mole project was the first time doing STEAM in the classroom.”

The science and math teachers were not the only ones getting involved. Drama teacher Caitlin Bradac is one of the other faculty members taking the initiative to incorporate STEAM into the classroom.

“I decided to get involved because I think it is important for students to learn in different way and if drama is one way then that’s great,” said Bradac. “I am creating the art part and having each period perform a children’s book based on science and math.”

The STEAM Festival will include artwork made by students in their science, math and art classes, performances from students about STEAM, live bands and a talent show with grand prizes, including Kindle Fires and a guitar.

–Aldo Andrade