STEAM-a-Palooza at CCIC stresses fun, engagement, and real-world skills
Skyler Welch knew he had found his pathway of purpose as soon as he took his first manufacturing fundamentals class at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus.
Welch, a junior at Grandview High School, found inspiration, direction, and excitement in the course at CCSD’s state-of-the-art college and career facility. He had access to the latest equipment, he could learn firsthand from qualified professionals, and he could even begin earning industry qualifications and certificates before beginning his senior year in high school.
Welch had a chance to share his enthusiasm with students, parents, and community members from across Cherry Creek Schools’ 108 square miles during this year’s STEAM-a-Palooza event, held on Oct. 8 at the CCIC. Welch was one of the dozens of high school students who manned innovative learning stations and led tours in the building during the annual event designed to celebrate a unique blend of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM).
“It’s so nice to be here, to show people what’s actually going on in this building,” Welch said before leading a group of elementary school students on a tour of the school’s fabrication lab. “It’s our chance to get more people into the CCIC, to show future students that they can get certifications and professional-level learning here.”
The district’s annual STEAM-a-palooza event kicked off in 2014, and it’s grown in scope, scale, and participation ever since. This year’s event, held for the first time at the CCIC, drew hundreds of visitors, and featured a wide array of interactive activities, displays and games. Sponsored by the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation, the 2022 STEAM-a-Palooza event also featured an impressive slate of professional partners; representatives from Google, Lockheed Martin, Southwest Airlines, and other industry partners added a real-world element to the activities.
“Seeing industry engage with our students, with our community, with our educators has been amazing,” said Jill Henden, Executive Director of the CCSF. “The Foundation is proud to sponsor such an amazing event, one that brings our community together. Students and parents have such an opportunity to engage in hands-on innovative experiences here, to have fun together, and to see all of the amazing things that are happening in our schools.”
The setting of the CCIC only added to that sense of engagement, according to the school’s principal Steve Day.
“A big part of the CCIC is the authentic equipment, creating an authentic space where students can work on projects that are real-world,” Day said. “STEAM-a-Palooza is doing the same thing for students of all levels this year. It’s allowing all of these kids to see themselves in these roles.”
Indeed, CCSD Assistant Superintendent of Career, Innovation, and Student Engagement Sarah Grobbel said that this year’s event was specifically designed to connect students of different ages, levels and interests. This reflects several of the district’s different Core Values, including Engagement, Growth Mindset, and Equity.
These values came in the form of a wide variety of activities, from robotics contests, to Minecraft stations, to flight simulations and immersive science experiments.
“This year, the focus was really hands-on and highlighting the amazing things that are happening throughout the district in small activity stations throughout the building,” Grobbel said. “The other focus was getting our students running the stations. We have secondary students working with our elementary and middle school students, showing them how it all works. They’re inspiring the next generation.”