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The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Kessner and Witman named STEM heads

Kessner and Witman oversee students' STEM coding projects. Photo by Clementine '17
Kessner and Witman oversee students’ STEM coding projects. Photo by Clementine ’17

Science instructor Andrew Witman and computer science and mathematics instructor Darren Kessner were named this year’s co-heads of Marlborough’s expanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. Witman and Kessner hope to integrate math and science into other fields as well as encourage girls interested in traditional STEM pursuits.

“We took over the program from [math department head Chris Talone] in a really exciting time because the program is expanding,” Kessner said.

One goal of the program is to bring STEM opportunities to students; this goal is implemented by bringing coding to math classes.

“[The science and math departments] were trying to make sure every Marlborough girl has exposure to coding because we feel that [coding] is becoming a very important part of a 21st century education,” Witman said.

Additionally, outside STEM projects combining art and science receive national attention with a push to change the acronym STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). The inclusive STEAM caught the attention of the Marlborough community.

“[STEAM]…would encourage different types of thinkers to look into STEM-type jobs. I really think that it would be able to push some girls who typically don’t think of themselves as math or science students to explore what types of creative opportunities they have [in those fields],” visual arts instructor Kathy Rea said. “The line between arts and science is blurring.”

Witman agrees with Rea that the inclusion of arts in the STEM program helps Marlborough girls.

“I like STEAM. I love art, I was an art minor, I think that art should be incorporated into everything. When an engineer is designing something they should be keeping in mind the artistic sensibilities,” Witman said adding that the STEM program teaches girls to implement those sensibilities into science-based projects.

Yet, Marlborough has chosen not to adopt STEAM because STEM is recognized by the National Science Foundation while STEAM is not. Instead, Marlborough’s more creative STEM projects are dubbed “STEM + Art” in an effort to cultivate the inclusive feeling that STEAM brings with it.

One Marlborough STEM + Art project aims to teach girls in Rea’s visual arts classes how to program light schemes into their artwork.

The collaboration will take place during the second semester and will teach art students how to add programming elements, like lighting, to their pieces. The project is something Rea and many girls are looking forward to.

“I am really excited, especially to use LED lights and learn how to mix art with science. I think the whole class was excited and that this will be something different,” One of Rae’s students, Mira Levinson ’17, will participate in the program said.

Rea said she is excited to see how the project goes and that it will help prepare girls to enter the workforce.

Another way Marlborough is blurring the line between art and STEM is through the Introduction to Coding class.

“I think with respect to my class, Introduction to Coding, it’s more based on creativity and getting comfortable with coding and not as much about the math and science. It makes me feel that the creativity aspect really features into computer programing,” Molly Sulzer ’17 said of her experience in Kessner’s Introduction to Coding class.

Kessner values the creative side of science; one of his first jobs was writing code for digital compositing.

“I was creating tools that visual artists would use when editing films. I’ve always liked creative things, and I’ve always liked technical things. And for me that’s something that I always try to bring into the classroom — the mix of the creative and technical,” Kessner said.



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