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Virginia Tech teams up with North Cross for unique project on perspective

Djimon Speller, a North Cross School Kindergarten student, explains what he learns.
Djimon Speller, a North Cross School Kindergarten student, explains what he learns. (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) -  Virginia Tech is teaming up with North Cross School to give students real life lessons that will be used for years to come. It is a Science, Engineering, Arts, and Design (SEAD) project. The SEAD experience emphasizes the importance of incorporating arts, creativity and design into STEM curriculum and programs.

Students sort drawings during exercise
Students sort drawings during exercise

In one exercise, students draw simple things and ideas helping them understand perspective.

"Apples, worms, conversation, YouTube," said Djimon Speller, a kindergartner.

Speller then works side by side with older grades sorting those same drawings. Each decided to sort differently based on color, size or type.

"I've learned about their experiences and how they think of things different from how I think of things," said Sofia Plaski, a North Cross School 5th grade student.

Drawings show student perspective
Drawings show student perspective

A simple exercise to develop important skills that Virginia Tech research assistant professor Liesl Baum says will be used everyday and businesses really want.

"How do we communicate effectively, how do we collaborate effectively, how do we work together toward a common goal and how do we use those skills to accomplish and tackle really really challenging problems," said Baum who is overseeing the eight day program bringing in different Virginia Tech students and faculty who are learning just as much as the North Cross students. "For them to understand that moving forward and working on their projects and coming up with their ideas they can really step back and appreciate those multiple perspectives and build them into their work."

3-year olds to 5th graders all participate in Virginia Tech led project.
3-year olds to 5th graders all participate in Virginia Tech led project.

"It's just activities to make young students and older students to understand what to do, what not to do and also have fun and understand things better," said Plaski.

More than 200 students-- 3 years old to fifth graders. It is the largest group that's ever done the Virginia Tech designed program.

"It's just fun. They teach me a lot of stuff," said Speller.

"Everything we've been seeing so far has been a success," said Baum.

The common thread over the eight days is the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.  The final performance and exhibit is Thursday at North Cross and Virginia Tech students will present in May.

Baum says this is the first time Virginia Tech Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech have partnered on a project.