After more than a year of remote learning, students are struggling to find focus at home. Here in West Oakland, McClymonds High School has seen an uptick in absences as students cope with feelings of isolation and a lack of motivation. “You’re not getting that day-to-day experience,” explained McClymonds junior, Isaiah Smiley in a recent ABC7 interview at The Crucible. “When we’re at school, and we see our friends, I feel like it pushes you to want to do better in class. Now it’s like our school and our home are all in one. You can’t really go and separate the two.”
In the fall of 2019, The Crucible launched a three-year, grant-funded program with McClymonds to offer hands-on classes to engineering students. The program focused on two goals; to provide opportunities to explore STEAM concepts through projects in Crucible departments like Welding, Foundry, and Bike Shop, and offer to offer classes like Ceramics and Leather Working after OUSD art programs suffered due to budget cuts.
Hands-on creative learning has proven crucial in helping students better solidify science and math concepts and build better problem-solving skills. A 2020 paper published by the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education states that, “Through STEAM, learners make connections more easily between content areas that were previously taught in silos. Design learning offers an opportunity for students to create, respond, reflect, connect, and produce in an interactive way.” Though the pandemic forced us to pause most of our programs, we were determined to continue with McClymonds in some capacity as soon as it was deemed safe.