STEAM skills are super powers! Host a STEAM ComicCon

Give students a chance to make up their own super power/Job title and empower them to identify as problem solvers and change agents.

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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What if students could represent themselves at a STEAM comic con and share their super power or their skills or how they learn best --- I.e. I'm a super change agent and my super powers are listening and doodling solutions on the fly! This student would be Super Doodler and kids would dress up representing their skills! Borrowing from Comic con -- there is a playful /tinkerer spirit - imagine students getting excited to learn about their hidden STEAM super powers!


Click here to view the google doc with ideas for the event-- a huge THANK YOU to my Teachers Guild Design coach Erin Quinn who helped me brainstorm these ideas!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1a7sV1VxgaL5DfCc2Gjh2AS391J7gxAkmK4BwCetbqwc/edit?usp=sharing

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I love this idea! And there is a lot of ways to actually explore the science behind different super powers themselves. We did a whole summer camp on Superhero Science last year, and the kids absolutely loved it.

Anyway, I can totally see kids in elementary school running with this. Great stuff!

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Hi Kengo! Thanks for the positive feedback! I'd love to learn more about Superhero Science. Any chance you can send me some information about that or perhaps we can schedule a hangout one day and swap ideas. I have plans to pilot this STEAM ComicCon and would love to see how others approach it. Thanks!

Photo of Kengo Yamada
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Absolutely! I would love to chat sometime. I'll see if the instructors for that camp can join the conversation as well since they'd know more about the particular experiments, superhero connections, etc. 

Feel free to email me (kyamada@lsc.org) whatever time works best for you. I look forward to talking to you soon. 

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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Hi Kengo, Just getting back to TG. Let's connect after the holiday break. I'll send you an email and yes, would love to hear from the other instructors. I definitely plan on piloting perhaps a smaller version of this STEAM Comiccon event in the spring--welcome ideas! Have a good holiday!

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Hi Jennifer! This is such an awesome project. During A workshop today here in Atlanta, we decided to recreate your project. Below you can find a Google Link to what we created and feedback that we had.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwkGTLHc9kJ4OGVGaWNJanl6YUE

We really enjoy that you are continuing to empower children through STEAM Education. You are truly making a difference. 

From your Friends in Atlanta. 

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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This is awesome! You all just made my week! Here are my thoughts on the feedback. I'll definitely include this in the next iteration.  
re: Objectives and Goals
1. I LOVE the discussion about skills in STEAM especially the piece on mindset. I went to a panel in SF on STEAM and one of the speakers said and I'll never forget this: "STEAM skills go beyond just skills and content---they're sensibilities that the citizens of the future should have."  I'll build this into the STEAM ComicCon day! 
2. Can you explain what you mean by STEAM can be inclusive in all areas of learning and development? Are you thinking with regards to different subjects or are you talking about how it applies to real world examples?  I'm curious about this one. 
3. Yes to building confidence and valuing contributions, particularly with the girls interested in STEAM. I definitely see an SEL piece to this. Research shows that girls often lose interest in pursuing fields in STEAM because they are threatened by this false image that it's too difficult or geared mostly for men. 
4. curious why you put a dotted line between 3 and 4? 
Before I go any further--would you all be interested in a google hangout so that I can ask more questions? 


And thank you for the images of the characters--I ESPECIALLY WANT TO MEET TANYA THE TINKERER!

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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Adding on to this: 

I love this idea of creating your own world ex. Krypton. It makes me wonder if the kids want to come in as groups or even teams like The Avengers ---different skills and back stories but they have a common nemesis. I definitely see a comic book idea brewing here!

Photo of Chris Good
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This might be my favorite idea ever! My kids would totally love this - because it is relevant to them and their individual passions. When I look at the effort spent by my daughter in putting together her ComicCon cosplay costume it is easy to see how invested a student can be in making, creating, building, and learning something when they deeply care. 

This idea is like all the best parts of a science fair, without the baggage that they tend to carry. A teacher friend once commented to me why they hate science fair's which was that "they are rarely about real science, and almost never fair!"

This idea is like a CosplayMakerFaire mashup where kids explore and tinker with things they already love and care about - and learn along the way!

Anyways. I sooo love this idea and think kids would as well.

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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Thanks Chris! I appreciate the comment about science fairs. Yes, this would definitely be student inspired---no parent handling! Apropos of Halloween coming up--- we never tell students what they should be for Halloween, and this idea runs along those same lines. The students get to identify their STEAM superpowers (passions and interests) and get to dress up based on how they see themselves. And yes, there is a makerfaire spirit to it--- tinker with your interests. Someone mentioned an "unconference" ---it would be just like that! 

Photo of Grace
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Very cool idea! How would this translate back to the everyday classroom?

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This reminds me of an idea from Chris Good in our summer design sprint around character: https://collaborate.teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-build-character-in-our-students-from-day-one-a-character-learning-design-sprint/favorites/character-sketches-literally

So the cool thing about Comicons is that people dress up (or not!) and go to workshops and hear from experts and browse resources and get entertained. I'm wondering if you could stretch the idea of a STEAM Comicon out even further. What else could you imagine, beyond the super powers? What learning opportunities could be integrated?

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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Good questions~ I'm imagining mini-STEM competitions where students could flex with their STEM muscles and super powers. There could be a design competition where engineering teams can get together and solve issues with good design. There could be shorter stints of competition where artists and math folks can get together in a "pop-up" lab and cook up ideas or have mini hack-a-thon type activities for folks to participate in. I see ways for Ignite-sessions --quick speed networking rounds with STEAM mentors to meet with students interested in STEAM. 

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This is a neat concept - sort of an "unconference" idea, but for students. Also love the idea of having design challenges where the students can practice those STEM superpowers. Maybe they could earn some kind of points (I'm imagining them "one upping!" haha!) when they participated in challenges, or kind of like Pokemon where they develop strength in certain areas, and then evolve). I'd love to see you build this idea out further!

Photo of Margaret Powers
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Yes, and ... maybe startups or other organizations could attend and get inspired to create some of those jobs or even invite students to help them design them?? 

Jennifer Gaspar- Santos Can you tell us more about what the STEAM comic con would look like? Who would be involved? When and where would it happen? 

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
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I definitely see startups and orgs attending. I even see avenus for sponsorships or mentorships, perhaps internships available for students to get access to. I responded to Erin in an earlier post above, but I'm also imagining a BIG STAGE where students can share a STEAM topic important to them i.e. How can we provide affordable STEAM for all students? or how do we promote more women and minorities in STEAM? And the stage can be a jumping point for all those who attend to address a topic that was shared on the stage by using their STEAM skills in any one of the resource stations .These would be stations with access to technology, maybe mentors or startups to help them design test solutions. At the end of the STEAM comic con, the best ideas and solutions would get pushed further. I'm imagining mini --workshops as well for students to build STEAM skills. i.e. process of creative problem solving or test-kitchen for testing out solutions or quick CS pop up groups for students to get exposure and lured into loving how to code.  It would happen during the summer before school starts, so that students could be pumped up before school starts.  It would need a space that's innovative, current, with modular furniture for agile meeting/learning spaces, definitely a space with wifi and access to good food.