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STREAM-A-Palooza event brings innovation online

A student participates in STREAM-A-Palooza on April 10. A year of challenges hasn’t stopped innovation in the Cherry Creek School District.

Ryan Remien, who teaches and coordinates Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) at Altitude Elementary, said that students from all backgrounds and grade levels have continued to learn, grow and create during the past 12 months. As they’ve shifted between In Person, Remote and Hybrid learning models, students have found ways to remain engaged and keep innovation at the forefront.

This dedication has been true for students across the district over the past year, and Remien and his colleagues wanted to be sure to find ways to celebrate and encourage that investment.

Since 2014, the districtwide STEAM-A-Palooza event was a way for students, teachers, parents and community members to gather in one place and celebrate innovation; previous annual events held at Grandview High School featured large-scale science experiments, interactive displays, presentations from professional scientists and a host of other activities designed to highlight all of the impressive STEAM-based learning in CCSD.

Current conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented such a large gathering of people, but Remien said it was still important to celebrate students’ impressive work over the past year. The solution came in STREAM-A-Palooza, a modified celebration held on April 10 that saw virtual engagement and online learning.

“We decided that we still wanted to move forward with celebrating innovation in CCSD, because the kids are still doing amazing things, even if it’s remote, even if it’s face-to-face in a hybrid model only a couple of days a week,” Remien said. “We had so many teachers and students and community members reach out to us, hungry for this event because they’re hungry for innovation.”

Remien spoke from the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus on April 10, the home base for this year’s virtual event. More than 1,500 students dialed in remotely to take part in design challenges, virtual experiments and online presentations.

Students from Julie Mueller’s first-grade class at Fox Hollow Elementary School had received design challenge kits that allowed them to build sail cars, straw rockets and catapults, and the STREAM-A-Palooza online gathering offered the opportunity to show off their work. Thanks to the online Flip Grid system, students had the chance to upload videos and pictures of their projects for all attendees to see.

“We are so excited to have so many students joining us today. It’s been so awesome to see so many students get involved with this event,” Mueller said. “We’ve actually had some new students and families able to join us because of this format. We’re offering some flexibility, and different ways for kids to get involved.”

According to Remien, the virtual model allowed participants to engage and excel, despite the limitations of a worldwide pandemic. While the ultimate goal is to get to a point where the community can gather in person once again, this year has shown the district’s versatility, dedication and strength when it comes to showing off innovation.

“This year is proof of concept that regardless of what the situation is around the world, we’re going to find a way to celebrate and share innovation,” he said. “To our students, I’d say that you’ve shown your flexible mindset through all of this, and we’re so incredibly proud of the work that you’ve done.”

- Posted 4/16/21 at 11:30 AM