WHAT IS STEAM?

STEAM is a contextual curriculum where the subjects are coordinated with each other under a project and inquiry-based educational structure. Science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the broad spectrum of the arts all relate to one another in reality. STEAM students are given the opportunity to better learn academic and life skills in a standards-backed, realistic-based, personally relevant exploratory learning environment. It delivers high quality team-based education to all students. Preparing students for a growing variety of careers is important to advance the global society and economies. Students evaluate needs, wants and opportunities in order to be informed users, respondents and innovators. It prepares students to be life-long learners who live well-balanced lives, whether they pursue college, a skilled trade, or potentially unknown career path.

STEAM 9 Student Learning Objectives:

"Students will be able to make multidisciplinary connections across the freshmen STEAM curriculum by completing student-centered projects that stimulate independent thinking relevant to their lives and the world."

Target Goals:

  1. Each quarter - making connections to the STEAM themes and the classes.
  2. Midterms - making connections to at least three subjects.
  3. Finals - making connections to all five subjects.

West High STEAM students learn how everything is connected - Union Leader March 17, 2019

Union Leader Deputy Managing Editor Mike Cote gives a journalism presentation to students in an English class during Career Day at Manchester West High School on Thursday.

BEFORE I MET Sandy Ratliff, the English teacher I was paired with for West High School’s annual career day, I learned a few things about her.

She’s been working with West’s STEAM Ahead program since its launch in 2014. That’s STEAM as in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Past students have rated her among the best teachers at West.

And she loves bacon.

I shared that information with Ratliff’s students during the four classes I taught Thursday, underscoring how quickly you can gather facts about someone through a quick Google search and by checking Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites.

I also emphasized how much more you can learn about someone when you meet them in person. In a media world transformed by the pace of the internet and shrinking newsrooms, journalists conduct fewer interviews face to face. We may get the story we need, but we lose perspective.

That lesson hit home while I was meeting with Ratliff’s freshman STEAM class. STEAM Ahead NH is a collaboration between the Manchester School District, the University System of New Hampshire, Manchester Community College and the business community. I asked Ratliff how students have responded to the program. In short: They have to work hard because they face a

challenging curriculum.

“Everyone is different. They learn in their own ways,” said Ratliff, who has taught at West for 23 years. “Some people can cut it. Some people cannot. Some students stay. Some students go. And some students learn that they can do things that they didn’t know they could do.”

Stories about these programs often use workforce needs as the theme — how technology companies and defense contractors in the Granite State can’t find enough skilled workers to fill thousands of open positions and how programs like the one at West can help fill those gaps.

When I asked students to talk about what they were learning in the STEAM program I didn’t expect them to discuss the plight of Native Americans and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. While these teens may be learning how to master science and engineering and the arts, they’re also gaining a greater sense of history and social awareness — the kind of knowledge that grooms people for leadership.

“We learned about tribes and territorial areas, how they didn’t fit in with whites at the time and how it was racially diverse,” student Evan Gilland said.

“And how did that correlate with what you learned in here?” Ratliff asked him and the rest of the class.

That prompted student Madison Lacroix to describe what the class learned from reading “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. “We just talked about how it was kind of a struggle for the Indian people at the time because they were treated so differently, like they went to different schools than white people did, and they had different lifestyles,” Madison said. “At the end of the book we talked about their culture and how it affected their families and what they did on the reservations.”

Again, Ratliff asked the class to take it further: “And on the reservations — what did you do in engineering?” “We got to pick an Indian tribe,” said student Leen Ghanayem. “We had to pick a problem that is going on in the reservation, and we had to make an invention that would fix it.”

The STEAM program aims to forge connections between disciplines. For example, the class studied the Holocaust in both geography and English classes — focusing on history and the countries where the Holocaust took place in geography, and expressing what they learned in Ratliff’s class.

“We had to make a visual presentation on it, either a PowerPoint or a poster, and then we read the book ‘Night,’ and that talked about a young boy named Elie Weisel, and his story and how he survived and his family story as well,” Madison said.

Those in-class presentations help STEAM students become more prepared for the workplace.

“It teaches you all the academic stuff but also helps you interact with people, and be more comfortable with them, and how to present in front of people, and just talk better and have people understand you more,” Leen said.

That sounds like good training for professionals preparing to talk to high school students on career day.

Mason Thyng and Product Development Notes from Keene State College.

He was also named the January

Francis Wayland Parker

Scholar of the Month!

High School West Winds Project

During the 2016-2017 school year, STEAM 10 wanted to create an alternative energy project here at West High School in order to reduce the school's dependency on electricity. First, a group of students researched many ideas and as a collective group reduced the number of ideas to three. After more research was conducted and the details were refined, the West Winds project was selected.

The wind turbine design and idea was created by then sophomore Mason Thyng. Other students joined in, but the building of the 3-D model was done by Mason. Once the idea was realized, an anemometer was placed on the roof (in many different locations) by the students to determine wind speed, direction, and the weather. All information is then downloaded to the weather station app (anemometer) on Mrs. Littlefield's computer in her STEAM math classroom. After two years, the project is still in its data collection and redesign mode.

On January 14, 2018, Mason and a group of underclass STEAM members, along with Mrs. Littlefield, traveled to Keene State University to see Mrs. Gina Chace, a former STEAM chemistry teacher here at West High School, and a team of engineers and professors all specializing in wind mills and turbines from designing, creating, testing and installing. This team consisted of Dr. Lisa Hix, Chair of the SPDI (Sustainable Product Design and Innovation) department; Jim Kyle, adjunct professor; and lab technician Warren Hurd. They were genuinely impressed by the students and their passion for problem solving; they added they would love to have any of them joing KSU in the SPDI program! They said the design by Mason is new to the field and has just come out by the top brains in the wind energy!

The students were honored to talk with these three people in their field and genuinely appreciated the feedback and advice given to them. They appreciated working with people who are actually doing this in the real world, hence one of the goals of the STEAM program. After the visit, it was concluded that the students still need to collect more data and design a way to get more anemometers on the roof to continue monitoring wind speeds, direction, and weather. Therefore, this is still an exciting ongoing project.

West Winds Anemometer and More Notes from Keene State College.

9th Grade STEAM Students of the Month:

September Maddie Lacroix and October Giovanni Martin

What do you like best about STEAM? I like how everyone is so close because we are willing to work together and to help each other out.

What has been your favorite project thus far? My favorite was the diorama for "The Most Dangerous Game" because we had to use a lot of creativity and knowledge of the story to work together as a group.

What do you like best about STEAM? I like how we are encouraged to work with others. It helps develop our social skills and working with other people when we are older.

What has been your favorite project thus far? I don't really have a favorite project because I have liked them all.

9th Grade STEAM Students of the Month:

STEAM teachers couldn't come to a consensus for just one in November, as all five teachers chose a different student. Thus, they set the challenge up for December.

November Student of the Month

No Consensus

December Student of the Month - Alexsi Mercado

What do you like best about STEAM? I like the hands-on work because I like showing what I have learned in a creative way.

What has been your favorite project thus far? My favorite project so far is the puzzle cube engineering project because I enjoyed the advertising aspect of it.

February Student of the Month - Abdullah Ali

What do you like best about STEAM? I like that we work together an not always as individuals like the non-STEAM classes.

What project has been your favorite thus far? My favorite project in STEAM was building the fluid power system. I really worked hard on it.



Steam 9 Students of the Semester left to right:

  • Skye Whitman - Algebra
  • Madison Lacroix - Geography
  • Aniyah Poulin - Engineering
  • Leen Ghanayem - English
  • Theo Deel - Biology


New 2018 STEAM t-shirts given to STEAMERS in grades 9-12!

THANK YOU T-shirt sponsors!

STEAM Program Supporters


  • Lori Oliveira - Liberty Utilities
  • Joseph Eager - Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
  • Bob Baines - STEAM AHEAD NH
  • Richard Dichard - Manchester HS West
  • Dan Larochelle - Manchester Community College
  • Bob Hines - ADMIX
  • Lisa Speropoulos - SNHU
  • Mary Stewart - ARMI
  • Wayne Goldner - Retired MD
  • Erik Nielsen - BIM Mgr, Procon, Alumni
  • Bob Cote - Founder/CEO SubItUp, Alumni
  • Thom Dean - ADMIX
  • Christopher Thompson - Talient Action
  • Jason Cardinal - Macy Industries
  • Steve Korzyniowski - Macy Industries
  • Tina Kelley - Palace Theatre