Any Given Child Jacksonville, an initiative of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, hosted an interactive event at Haskell Company Oct. 18, to give local innovative partners in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and the arts the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of adding the A to STEM.
The event, A+ STEM, showcased the correlation between STEM and an arts-rich education and how a focus on this education for children can help develop economic health and a future workforce in Northeast Florida. It included 3D animation and 3D printing demonstrations by Jacksonville University students, robotics demonstrations by the Mandarin High School Robotics Club and by the Shiva Robotics Academy, 3D pens by the Jacksonville Public Library, and a demonstration of 360-degree virtual reality glasses by JU Professor Bill Hill.
“We are one of 21 different cities all over the country that are working towards arts education in our community, and we have had the privilege of having many wonderful partners,” said Allison Galloway-Gonzalez, executive director, Any Given Child. “When Cathedral Arts Project, the City of Jacksonville and Duval County Public Schools began this work in 2013, our superintendent, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, applied to become one of those cities. Through many conversations I’ve had, one of the most spectacular parts of the application was the superintendent’s support of all that work and he has absolutely followed through. We’re making incredible progress with students in arts education.”
Galloway-Gonzalez said both STEM and the arts are critical to a “full child” education, noting the demands the community and the workforce is putting on education to build students with skill sets in both sets of disciplines. “Our business leaders are asking and saying arts education is important to the structure of our educational system,” she said. “One of the leaders is the Haskell Company, a community pillar that has been a model for not compromising on any one thing.”
Dave Balz, Haskell Company vice president and chief integration officer, spoke about the integration of STEM and the arts at the 51-year-old Riverside company.
“Support of the arts is something that is very, very important to our organization, specifically to Preston Haskell, our founder, and to Steve Halverson, our chairman and CEO,” said Balz. “They, by example, have encouraged our 1300 employees to participate in the community by attending performances, by enjoying and appreciating the arts, and by supporting the arts functions in the community.”
By Kate A. Hallock