Full STEAM Ahead: Learning and Making in the 21st Century

Friday, September 16, 2016, 4:30 pm to 6 pm

This Symposium runs through Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thank you for your interest in Full STEAM Ahead! The Symposium and all related sessions have SOLD OUT. If you would like to add your name to the waitlist for any of these packages, please e-mail Lori Parisi at No calls, please. The waitlist will be created in the order in which e-mails are received.

Exploring and Celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (+ Design) and Math

A Cross-Disciplinary Symposium and Community Engagement Event

September 16 to 18, 2016

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and Ridgefield Library are committed and passionate practitioners of, and advocates for, cross-disciplinary teaching and learning. Continuing the thought-provoking dialogue initiated with community collaborators at the Creativity Conference in 2012 in Ridgefield, CT, these two long-time partners invite educators, parents, life-long learners of all disciplines, and the creative community-at-large to engage, envision, and imagine together.

What exactly is STEAM, and why is it important? Is it a movement, a mindset, an initiative, a teaching method, a theory? Join the national discourse at a symposium that explores these questions through the lenses of education, contemporary art and design, innovation in business and technology, community engagement, and more. Register now and:

  • Hear from forward-thinking artists, scientists, academics, educators, engineers, and business leaders
  • Learn about inspiring—and unexpected—real-world applications of STEAM in schools, studios, laboratories, conference rooms, museums, libraries, and beyond
  • Participate in lively discussions, hands-on activities, and engaging presentations at the Museum and Library that tap all the senses, spark the imagination, and challenge our traditional perceptions of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (+ Design), and Math
  • Join the conversation about how this global exchange is impacting our comprehension of the world around us and our ability to meet twenty-first-century challenges with inventive and creative solutions
  • Instigate dialogue about the importance of art and design—creativity and innovation—in the classroom, workplace, and community
  • Explore real time applications of STEM to STEAM principles, through specific case studies that inform best practices for cultural organizations, businesses, schools, and communities
  • Connect with participants of all ages through inspiring demonstrations and participatory, family-friendly activities on the final day of the three-day experience

Schedule and Sessions

Friday, September 16, 2016

4:30 pm, The Aldrich

5 to 6 pm, The Aldrich
Powering the Creative and Critical Thinker — Getting into a STEAM Mindset

What are the values and ideas that fuel our teaching and lifelong learning experiences? Storyteller and illustrator Jeff Hopkins will guide participants in an interactive workshop that focuses on how to share and link these concepts. Together, the group will create a large-scale drawing of a fantastical engine-powered machine that represents teaching and learning experiences. Through brainstorming, movement, sketching, and writing, participants will determine what are the most important parts of the creative-thinking process in education, how these parts are all interconnected, and how we can power innovation and the creation of new ideas. All aboard!

Facilitator: Jeff Hopkins, Ed. M, illustrator and teaching artist, Guggenheim Museum, American Ballet Theatre, and The Jewish Museum, New York City.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

8:30 am, The Aldrich
Registration, coffee, and light snacks

9:15 am, The Aldrich
Welcome Remarks

Speaker: Nicholas Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus, Executive VP Technology and Innovation (retired)

9:30 to 10:45 am, The Aldrich
Full STEAM Ahead: The Genesis and State of STEM to STEAM

STEAM is a movement originally championed by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) that has been widely adopted by institutions, corporations, governments, and individuals with the objectives to: 1) transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM; 2) encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education; and 3) influence employers to hire creative artists and designers to drive innovation. Based on approaches to problem solving used in RISD studios and classrooms, thought leaders from the RISD community will speak about policy, modes of inquiry, and bringing studio methods to the K‒20 classroom and beyond.

Presenters: Babette Allina, executive director, Government Relations & External Affairs, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, RI; Neal Overstrom, director, Nature Lab, RISD.

11 am to 12:15 pm, The Aldrich
Art and Science: What’s The Difference?

Aldrich exhibiting artist David Brooks and taxonomist, ecologist, and evolutionary biologist Dr. Nathan K. Lujan talk about the nexus between art and science, the cross-disciplinary nature of Brooks’s contemporary art practice, and how their respective research experiences both differ and coincide in their separate disciplines. They will share insights into their mutual and fundamental appreciation for the aesthetics of the natural world and how both work toward the common goal of maintaining biodiversity and understanding humankind’s place within it.

Presenters: David Brooks, Aldrich exhibiting artist; Nathan K. Lujan, PhD, Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto, Canada

12:15 to 1 pm, The Aldrich

1 to 2:15 pm, The Aldrich
Creating a Workforce for the 21st Century

The face of business and industry in Connecticut and the world has changed radically over the past generation and continues to evolve at a dizzying rate. Our economy needs workers and thinkers in all fields who are technology natives, thoroughly versed in core STEM competencies, quick to adapt to ever-changing conditions, and fluent with the spark of creativity implicit in the Art + Design aspects of STEAM. In this session, leaders from government, business, and the STEAM community discuss the expectations of employers as well as the burgeoning universe of entrepreneurial and creative alternatives.

Presenters:Steve Martino, director, Blue Sky Studios/20th Century Fox, Greenwich, CT; Lisa Scails, executive director, Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut; Barry Schwimmer, founder and managing partner, Stamford Innovation Center, Stamford, CT; Chris Iorillo, artist and computer scientist, Ridgefield, CT

2:30 to 4:30 pm, The Aldrich
STEAM and Life-Long Learning: The Power of Play and Imagination

Exciting new tools and platforms for learning beyond the classroom, from Hacker Spaces to Virtual Reality open up new pathways for education across age ranges and disciplines. A diverse group of STEAM practitioners will reveal these new opportunities and discuss how STEAM principles drive and impact their work. A panel session and break-out activities will create a participatory learning environment that underscores the limitless possibilities in the interconnectedness of fields and highlights the critical roles imagination and wonder play in creativity.

Presenters: Heidi B. Hammel, planetary astronomer and executive vice president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Washington, DC; Mike Kaltschnee, co-founder, Danbury Hackerspace, Danbury, CT; Emily Keating, education director, Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, NY; Larissa Bailiff, senior editor, education & content, WoofbertVR, and Bill Derry, education consultant.

5 to 7 pm, Ridgefield Library
The Nature of Wine and Creativity: A Sensory Wine-Tasting Experience

Making wine is a highly interdisciplinary art—blending horticulture, chemistry, biology, mechanics, the senses, creativity, and more—in both the vineyard and the winery. Similarly, consuming and enjoying wine brings together both the science of taste and smell and the aesthetics of experiencing wine. At the close of the symposium, join this “multi-sensory tasting experience” to explore the intersection of creativity, wine, and the brain. Discover how master sommeliers learn to understand wine, what’s happening in the brain when we taste and smell wine—and how this knowledge and experience is transferred to others. Practice looking at, smelling, and tasting wines as the experts do, while sampling four Connecticut wines from Hopkins Vineyard and continuing to explore the nature of wine through the lens of STEAM.

Presenters: Steven T. Dahlberg, director, International Centre for Creativity & Imagination, New Milford, CT; and James Baker winemaker and vineyard manager, Hopkins Vineyard, Warren, CT. Musician: Andrew Levine, managing director, Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, New York, NY

Sunday, September 18, 2016

1 to 5 pm, The Aldrich and Ridgefield Library
Community Day: Hands-On with STEAM!

FREE and open to the public, for all ages!

Get your hands dirty and your brain in gear! Children, families, teens, and adults are invited to engage in a range of STEAM and maker activities that will demonstrate the principles and practices discussed during the Symposium sessions earlier in the weekend. Take part in concurrent workshops, presentations, performances, and family activities that investigate STEAM through art making, tinkering, technology, and more. Join artists, scientists, educators, and your family and friends for an afternoon of exploration, learning, and fun!

Presented by The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and Ridgefield Library with special thanks to our program partner International Centre for Creativity and Imagination