By KellyAnn Bonnell
The 2nd Annual STEAMpunk Scientific Exhibition was held this weekend, March 1-2, at Heritage Square. Over the course of two days the event saw an estimated 100 visitors who heard about the event from sources including the Arizona Sci-Tech Festival, Phoenix Comicon, and Lightning Octopus. STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The goal of this STEAM event was to show the community how Arts (and Humanities) can be used to foster interest in STEM learning and STEM careers. STEAMpunk applies that learning to the pseudo Victorian aesthetic known as steampunk.
In May 2013, PGTC and the Serendipity Center for Informal Learning collaborated to create the Exhibition of Great Works for Phoenix Comic Con. This was a model for a family science fair that challenged teachers to look beyond in school learning to teach scientific concepts. The entries created for that event taught us history lessons about peer review in scientific method with the presentation of a fictional N-ray detector and an exploration of modern electronics can help us create a “talking” ray gun.
This time around we learned about how Victorian/Edwardian era science fiction contributed to the science and inventions of the time. We saw how Jules Verne’s vision of a submarine in 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea contributed to the creation of working submarines that were used for battle in during the American Civil War. We also learned how the detective fiction of Poe and Doyle led to dramatic leaps in the study of forensic science during that period.
So next time you want to do something a little outside the box to engage your students, remember this event and go for it. Learning comes in all shapes and sizes.