Innovation and Imagination

By Aura Delgado

The recent Steam-a-Palooza event was a celebration of science, engineering, and art. It’s been held every year at one of the schools in the Cherry Creek district for the past three years.

Julia Chapman, a student from Liberty, was in charge of this challenging activity at Steam-a-Palooza.

Her table was surrounded by buckets full of spinnable gears that can be attached onto the wall.

The objective was to build a structure that makes several gears turn together from the rotating grooves that interlock with each other.

Steam-a-Palooza empowered visitors to construct anything they can imagine.

 

“These kids are using their imaginations,” Chapman said. “They’re making their own creations.”

Creativity is not bound to rigid structure, similar to how snakes don’t have spines. This is what makes them so flexible in nature.

Thunder Ridge middle school brought a few.

“We take care of 36 snakes,” Anderson Naff said. “The one I have is named ‘Fluffy’.”

Visitors had a unique opportunity to learn and interact with the snake to understand the biology of the reptile.

They’re making their own creations.

While Naff doesn’t personally look after Fluffy, he usually handles him at  school-sanctioned events.

Science instructor Cindy Neth-Wilson demonstrated the value of Legos in engineering and technology at this particular school event.

“I teach lego robotics,” Neth- Wilson said. “Visitors get to learn how to program a robot.”

Lego robotics teaches people engineering skills by demonstrating how to build fully functional machinery.

“It’s a hands-on project,” Neth-Wilson said.

Robots comply with the rules we create, but art doesn’t. This is why an art teacher is not restricted to the conventional standards of just paper and computers.

Josh Heckendorf, graphic design teacher, is currently working on a community mural using the wall that leads to the visual arts hallway as his canvas.

The mural will be painted on individual tiles that come together to form a completed puzzle.

It will be made from the renowned art pieces Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, and American Gothic by Grant Wood and others of similar prestige.

“What we’ve done is we’ve created a large mural that is composed of classical paintings that are well over 100 years old,” Heckendorf said.

This event made some new ideas finally come into the light because creativity takes courage and nobody at Steam-a-Palooza was feeling discouraged about their ideas.  

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