An Unequalled After School Experience

When designing the curriculum for STEAM Studio, Angela Nelson and her STEAM Team work to create dynamic, integrated lessons that pull from different areas of study and cut across subject-matter lines emphasizing unifying concepts. Through the multi-disciplinary study of expertly-curated units, each student is introduced to a range of learning opportunities leading to a more individualized experience that contributes to the fun and challenging environment that is STEAM Studio. Integrated curriculum bridges the gap between a student’s real-life experiences and the classroom, resulting in more student engagement through challenging and exciting lessons and a higher mastery of concepts.

Current & Past Units

The syllabus at STEAM Studio continually evolves to captivate young students and facilitate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math connections to real life experiences. Each school year the program rotates through themes, or units of study. Examples of these units are described below:

Themes for students

in grades K through 2

Invent an Alien: Put your creativity to the test! We will discover the atmosphere and landscape of the planets in our solar system. Then it will be time to construct our aliens that can survive these harsh conditions with extreme temperatures, unusual chemicals in the air, and a lack of water.

Bridges: Great engineers over the centuries have built famous structures that capture our eye and help us travel across great divides and large bodies of water. We will explore bridges from around the world, including Chengyan Bridge in China and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Then it will be time to put on our engineering hats and test our very own unique designs.

Prairie Animals: As the seasons change and the plants come to life for the upcoming summer, we will explore the Midwest prairies and the animals that call this place home. We will look at the adaptations, food webs, and life cycles of some of our favorite slithering, flying, and walking inhabitants.


Themes for students

in grades 3 through 5

Nature’s Technology: Scientists are always exploring the world around them to come up with the next invention.  Learn how Velcro came to be, create a new use for the bioluminescence from a firefly and much more!

Say Cheese: Have you ever tried to get the perfect picture?  We will build pinhole cameras, learn the art of photography, use computer programs to modify images and even conduct labs with time lapse photography.

Drink it Up!  Are you ready to make the best beverage on the planet?  Learn the chemistry behind your favorite drink, discover how to carbonate soda, and learn how to read nutrition fact labels on the container.  Then it will be time for you to create your very own beverage. Don’t forget to design the container!



Field Experiences

“While taking a family vacation, our daughter popped up in her seat just as we approached a bridge. Her eyes lit up as she excitedly identified the bridge and gave a detailed account of her own bridge-building experiences from a STEAM project she had done months before. She recited the other types of bridges and the benefits of each type, but the truly amazing thing was that this conversation excited her! I looked at her mom and gave her a fist bump while we simultaneously exalted ‘Worth it!’”

- STEAM Studio Family

The integrated curriculum of STEAM Studio is enhanced regularly by field experiences that not only connect a topic to real-world learning, but also connect students’ varying world experiences. Field experiences challenge the student to think – and act – beyond the classroom by allowing them to explore different applications and perspectives of their knowledge.

Field experiences allow STEAM Studio students to capitalize on their daily experiments and explorations and enhance the project-based learning style of STEAM Studio by presenting students with real-life examples. A student in grade 1 may build a catapult in Makers Lab and then experience Medieval tools and inventions through an immersive tour at Spurlock Museum. The imagination of a fifth grade student can take flight as they research and design their own hover-drone and then explore the hangers of Wilson Airport. STEAM Studio's prime location affords the program opportunities to partner with award-winning departments at University of Illinois, traverse the gems of Illinois' natural parks and playscapes, and create in areas rich with artistic and cultural experiences. The possibilities are as endless as they are boundless.

Guest Experts

Guest experts are an important part of the educational experience for STEAM students. They not only expose students to real-world applications of their STEAM Studio topics, but give further insight and perspective of the guest speaker’s particular field. Glimpses of life as a bio-engineer for the student who is fascinated by the movement of microorganisms could be a key roadway on the map of that student's future. Presenting a new lotion chemically concocted in a student's bathroom chemistry unit, complete with its own branding, to Champaign-Urbana entrepreneurs in the style of Shark Tank creates an exciting new connection between science, art, and the world of business. These partnerships enhance the STEAM student's after school experience and create building blocks of possibility on the path to working in one's field of interest.

Community Celebrations

STEAM units culminate in a celebratory fashion that encapsulates the learning experienced throughout the topic. From families touring a life-size cave system built with consumable materials to culinary experts taste-testing hidden vegetable cupcake recipes, students get to share the product of their learning with their families, friends, teachers, and community members. 

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