Authentic STEAM

When New York’s Lynbrook Union Free School District purchased a couple of low-end 3-D printers, art teacher Michael Kunz and technology teacher Paul Rotstein had fun experimenting with them. What emerged was a partnership with a local hospital and a project that ended up benefiting children with cerebral palsy and other medical conditions.

In a Sunday session entitled, “Creating an Authentic STEAM Initiative” at NSBA’s Annual Conference in Boston, the teachers described a collaboration in which technology students interviewed children at a hospital, then designed and created both toys and adaptive aids for them. Meanwhile, graphic design students created colorful packaging and simple instructions.

Perhaps the most life-changing product developed was a device that enabled a disabled boy to grasp a remote for the Nintendo Wii, so he could play video games with his siblings.

While teachers found plenty of uses for the low-end 3-D printers, the district purchased one of commercial quality to produce certain prototypes, such as:

* A u-shaped adaptive spoon.

* A stylus with a custom-designed handgrip, enabling a girl to more accurately use an i-Pad.

When these objects were presented to the children, they came in packages created by graphic design students that were as sophisticated as anything found on the shelf of a mass merchandizer. Each had a brand identity, a color scheme, instructions for use and three-dimensional packaging.

District officials said they would be happy to help districts interested in creating a similar initiative. Contact administrator Vincent Lentini at

Eric Randall

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