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Full Steam Ahead!

A new STEAM lab with a state-of-the-art chemistry lab, think tank and soon-to-be-completed makerspace is paving the way for creative, collaborative learning in the STEAM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
How will we combat climate change? Cure cancer? Care for an aging population? Create a food supply to feed a hungry world? These are just some of the complex challenges that citizens face in the 21st century—challenges that cannot be met without innovation, cross-disciplinary collaboration, critical-thinking skills and creativity.

In January 2019, Loyola Academy opened a state-of-the-art STEAM lab and launched an ambitious new STEAM learning initiative that will help Loyola’s Ramblers think more broadly about these and other real-world problems, address issues of social justice and, ultimately, serve a world in need of their talents.

Loyola’s STEAM lab—made possible by a leadership gift from graduate parents Sue and Tim Sullivan and named in honor of Rev. Peter W. Breslin, SJ—currently includes a chemistry laboratory and an adjacent classroom space designed to function like a think tank. Fundraising and planning for a makerspace to support collaborative, hands-on, project-based learning in the STEAM disciplines is currently underway.

“The new STEAM lab allows teachers to emphasize group collaboration, labs, demonstrations and critical thinking,” notes Science Department Chair Marissa Cervantes. “It is much easier to incorporate problem solving into lessons, as students have all of the tools and materials necessary for testing hypotheses right at their fingertips.”

According to Loyola Academy Principal Charles W. Heintz, STEAM is a natural fit for Loyola’s Jesuit educational mission. “Critical thinking has always been a core component of Jesuit education,” he points out. “STEAM, or cross-disciplinary, learning gives students a more holistic understanding of how the world works and teaches students how to use the skills and processes gained through the study of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics to think deeply, ask questions and solve complex problems.”

Loyola’s new STEAM program is a self-directed course of study in electives and cocurriculars that challenges students to use tools from multiple disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, art, architecture, design and mathematics. Students can choose from electives in areas such as computer science and 3D design, as well as cocurricular activities such as the Architecture Club, Math Modeling Club, Robotics Club, Science Olympiad and Women in STEM.

More STEAM offerings are already in the pipeline. As the new year gets underway, Loyola is partnering with the educational nonprofit Project Lead the Way to develop a new Introduction to Engineering Design course that will enable Ramblers to step into the varied roles that engineers play in the world today, discover new career paths and possibilities and develop engineering skills through problem-based learning. The course—scheduled for an August 2019 launch—will enable students to dig deep into the engineering design process by applying math, science and engineering standards to hands-on makerspace projects.

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