STEAM – not just STEM, at the University of Findlay

 By: Olivia Hyatt

University of Findlay’s New Conda STEAM Education Center brings hope to art education majors

Art is a subject that, for a long time, enthusiasts have found to be underappreciated. At the University of Findlay, however, this under appreciation is not present. The university is known for its Mazza Museum, theatrical performances, and now, the new Joseph and Judith Conda STEAM Education Center.

This new center on campus is dedicated to the acronym, STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. The inclusion of the “A” in the traditional STEM is a big step for all art lovers. It’s an even larger step that the university now has an entire building dedicated to it.

Heather Sensel, the Education Manager for the Mazza Museum, said STEAM has become a “catchy” term in the past five years, but has always been there. “Art is in everything we do”, Sensel said, “There’s always something that’s going to pertain it to the actual form of art. It goes hand in hand with [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics].”

This inclusion has turned a page for senior Multi-age Visual Arts Education major Elaine Schaffter. Having the arts included is very important to her. “Art plays such a big role in [developing a well-rounded brain function] and providing this educational opportunity for increased brain function,” Schaffter stated, “Problem solving is a skill that can only be learned through experience and practice opportunities, which the STEAM center provides.”

Art requires the use of the right side of the brain, which focuses on language, emotion, spatial-recognition and more, while the left side of the brain focuses on numbers and logic. The majority of everyday activities are conducted in the left brain. With art, the right side of the brain is activated, stimulating the well-rounded brain function, Schaffter mentioned.

According to the Mazza Museum website, the center blends Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics in a hands-on learning lab. The contents of the lab foster creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills.

“As an Art Ed major, it’s exciting to see a place where art is encouraged in other subjects like math and science. There is a lot of art involved in those subjects that no one recognizes,” Kat Dennison, Multi-age Visual Arts Education major, stated.

Inside the STEAM center, the activities range from dissecting owl pellets to 3-D printing a human heart. One activity Sensel mentioned is digging for dinosaur bones, fake ones of course. This activity has students dig in a box of kinetic sand to find dinosaur bones, and once they’ve collected the bones, they put them together to figure out what the dinosaur looked like. After they do this, they then draw what they think the dinosaur looked like. This activity combines science, engineering and art.

If digging for dinosaur bones isn’t your thing, there’s also the Lego wall, robotics building, an iPad station, and so much more. Every activity in the center has a unique way of demonstrating how art is involved.

The Conda STEAM Center will only be open to the public during Funday Sunday events and afterschool programming. School tours can be scheduled through the Mazza Museum website.

10/6/21: This story was updated to correct information on the STEAM Center’s opening to the public

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