Millburn Junior Sings Her way to the Grammys

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MILLBURN, NJ – The Millburn Board of Education and Education Foundation consistently push for the advancement of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning in math and science courses throughout each school in the district. Rarely though, does Millburn education administration see STEAM implemented in English courses.

For the 15th consecutive year, Ms. Ellen Hayes, Millburn High School English Teacher, assigned an extensive research project on Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, which required students to use all aspects of STEAM, and more skills. Hayes and a group of students presented their work to the Board of Education to show their multi-dimensional progress made while working on the project. Each group researched a character of choice from the story, and his or her social stature. This year however, Hayes and the BOE were especially impressed with the creativity this particular group exhibited 15 years through.

“We chose to base our project on the author, Geoffrey Chaucer, because out of all the years Mrs. Hayes has been doing this project, nobody has ever done Chaucer” said Patrick Fitzsimmons, one of the five students in the group. “So my group decided it would be cool to be the first to do the paper costume project on Chaucer and then everyone in future years doing this project can see how creative this project allows you to be.”

Along with Fitzsimmons, Renee Levine, Joe Petrilli, Tele Adeyemo, and Drew Basarab were required to create a costume, made entirely out of paper, representative of Chaucer himself. In the costume, the group was able to incorporate each aspect of STEAM.

In the sleeves, science and engineering were prevalent through the students’ usage of duct tape and Velcro. For their extensive research, needed for each requirement of the assignment, the Juniors utilized MHS databases and online texts in the library. MHS librarian Ms. LaDawna Harington exposed each of Hayes’ classes to the various resources the library has to offer in a lecture to the class. Of course, the art of the costume was the medium in which the students presented their information. Levine, who took the lead on the artistic portion of the project, included different types of papers and paint to give the costume a leathery look. She insisted on the royal color red to represent the royal mindset Chaucer may have had. In the end, what separates the costume from an art project was the math needed to successfully tailor the costume to one student. Each angle and measurement was taken by the students to ensure that one of them could fit the costume, and that the costume could fit the requirements of the project.

Although this group of students proved to be exceptional in the eyes of administration, this is just one example of the increasing implementation of STEAM into modern education.

The MHS Juniors were not the only ones to present their creativity to the BOE though. Hartshorn elementary students Yiva Yuang (1st grade) and Karina Yuan (4th grade) performed an excerpt of their dance from the Millburn Chinese New Year Celebration on January 28.

Brad Klein
Brad is a writer and commentator for Studio 462.