District scores Battelle grant for STEM project
Summit Road Elementary School first-grader Jack Cannon tries out a phone booth that is among the exhibits in the STEM school's library museum. The Reynoldsburg school district received a $50,000 Battelle grant to further develop the Living Library Museum.
Of the $460,000 in grants Battelle Memorial Institute gave to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, only one went to a school district.
Reynoldsburg City Schools, in partnership with the Granville Studio for the Visual Arts, will use its $50,000 award to support the Living Library Museum at Summit Road STEM Elementary School.
The library houses collectibles that illustrate popular children's books and displays that begin with the simplest form of technology and range through the most modern device.
The five projects receiving grants all "integrate STEM with a diverse mix of disciplines, including the arts, digital technology, dance and theater," said Katy Delaney, spokeswoman for Battelle.
Rhonda Eberst, Summit Road Elementary School librarian, said art is being added to many STEM initiatives, thus changing the acronym to STEAM.
"We will be working with Kerry Dixon from Granville to tie in art with science," she said. "The new buzzword is STEAM, to add art to STEM. Kerry will bring in some artists and help students to aesthetically set up an art science gallery."
Eberst said the grant money will be used for a student-led initiative to expand and re-create the school library as an educational museum.
"The students will design, brainstorm and problem-solve in phase 1 of the project, to figure out what the library should look like," she said.
"It still has to function as a school library, so I still have to have space for teaching and for student reading, but otherwise, they may expand displays, move shelving and make the library look more like a museum."
She said a committee of 30 third- and fourth-graders will partner with Fab Lab students from Reynoldsburg High School to design the display, which will also be QR-coded.
"You will be able to come in with your iPad and scan a QR code so that a video will come up," she said. "The video might have a student explaining, 'You have just discovered a 1930 Underwood typewriter.' The student may then explain how keyboards have evolved over the years."
Existing displays in the library include a progression of collectibles that begin with the simplest form of technology and go on to modern-day devices. The communication display begins with an old telegraph machine and copies of Western Union telegrams and continues with an old-fashioned rotary-dial telephone and pay phone.
A cordless telephone is next, then an early, bulky cell phone, modern flip-phone and smartphones.
She said the library now has a full-size phone booth, donated by Cincinnati Bell.
Eberst said she has always been a collector, and thus had ample items to begin the library last school year.
The student committee will meet in early August to begin the design process.
"We will also be taking them to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Columbus Museum of Art," she said. "They will talk to curators and museum directors and find out what jobs and positions they need to fill.
"We had 67 students apply for this committee and chose 30," she said. "We have students who love non-fiction reading and research, so they may be on the team to research items; and students who love to build, so they may help to create the physical displays."
Eberst said the new and improved library will open next spring.
"Our overall goal is to get kids thinking, creating and being curious about where they came from, where they are and where they want to go," she said.
She said phase 1 of the project is to get the designs and new displays open, while phase 2 is expansion.
"We'd like to collect enough in donations so that items could be boxed up as exhibits to go to other schools," she said.
She said the library committee may also work with other school libraries in the second phase of the project.
Other Battelle awards included:
• A $35,000 grant went to CATCO's STEAM Residency to develop Kids STEM projects and the Full STEAM Ahead program.
• Surge Columbus: A Creative Circuit for Youth received the largest grant -- $300,000 for teen programming, which will include digital media workshops. The project is a collaboration of Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Columbus Museum of Art, COSI, Wexner Center for the Arts and WOSU.
• Grants for $50,000 and $25,000 went to the "Wiggle Jig Program" at BalletMet and the "Science of Glass & Polymers," a project of The Works: Ohio Center for History Art & Technology, respectively.