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Dublin Parent and Volunteer Rob Bennett Brings STEAM to Frederiksen Elementary School Students

May 10, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–Is there a way to blend the art of sculpture and geometry? Of course there is. Centuries ago, Leonardo da Vinci demonstrated the link between concepts that included architecture, mathematics, astronomy and botany. It comes as no surprise that our current educational culture is actively promoting pathways to celebrate both the sciences and the arts for all of our students.

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One thing can be assured: The exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) are clearly emphasized in elementary school education throughout the Dublin Unified School District. This is principally because the curriculum is fairly guided for each student and can be “fixated” to ensure that a specified number of hours can be devoted to all subjects from ELA, Math, Science, the Arts and Physical Education.

We recently observed a fascinating example of STEAM education at Frederiksen Elementary School. For the past 20 years Rob Benneett, a parent of two former Fred students has faithfully returned for a full day to demonstrate to upper grade students how their interest in ceramics is connected to geometric and mathematical concepts. From the moment that his daughter, Emily, promoted up from Jamie Perez’s first grade classroom, Rob Bennett has made his pilgrimage back to Frederiksen classrooms.

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Mr. Bennett possesses a double major with a B.S. in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from U.C. Davis. He is currently a Network Engineer with AT&T. The lesson concept is rather simple. Rob’s mission is to take one classroom at a time and to help guide them in crafting an animal sculpture with a simple lump of clay. The media represents the means to achieving the goal. However, the journey to doing so is the real key. All of this must be achieved in about 20 minutes, so attention to detail and the lesson are both critical.

While working on a table top in the Fine Arts classroom floor, each student is instructed to mentally define how much clay will be needed to accomplish this task. Clearly, there are segments that will be needed to complete the body, head, extremities and other fine details. In a rather exotic exercise, Mr. Bennett instructs the student to “trust their hands – and not their eyes.” This is accomplished by twisting the clay over their heads and to not accomplish this visually. Essentially, the concept is to not necessarily trust everything that one can see.

Accordingly, the lesson includes the shaping of forms – those that include spheres and cubes – as opposed to two dimensional figures in circles and squares. At the end of the session, the ultimate message is not to identify the most perfect sculpture. Clearly, the goal is aid students in understanding that their activity in a creative art is directly associated with mathematical concepts. Equally important, it is important to know that the parent of two former Fred students embraces the importance of why this exercise should continue and that he has a willingness to perpetuate a very valuable lesson. OneDublin.org would like to thank Mr. Rob Bennett for his continued devotion to the promotion of STEAM for these fortunate students.

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