"STEAM-squared" goal getting some help from Black Hills Impact

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - We started out with STEM programs back in the early 1990s and now, we're at STEAM-squared. It stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and medicine.

Robbinsdale Elementary students getting some experience in the arts portion of the STEAM-squared initiative. (KEVN)

With the help of a grant, one local theater group is helping kids learn more about the arts.

The Black Hills Area Community Foundation's Black Hills Impact program recently gave a $3,500 grant to Black Hills Community Theatre to help with its education efforts.

"Specifically our work with teachers in schools to help with the school district's STEAM initiative. The Giving Circle, Black Hills Impact, looked at that grant and gave us an additional grant. They're really the biggest supporters we have right now of our education efforts," said Black Hills Community Theatre Executive Director Nick Johnson.

The program started last year in various Rapid City Area Schools.

"We were in about 13 schools last year and we have all those schools lining up and more teachers clamoring to get more time with our education team," said Johnson.

The theatre's education director can do a one-day workshop or a multi-week residency in schools.

"It's not teaching the kids necessarily theater, how to act, but it's using all of those dramatic skills to help the teacher meet whatever learning or curriculum goals they have in other subjects as well," said Johnson.

Students and teachers seem to enjoy the program as they send Black Hills Community Theatre staff appreciation letters after they visit.

"It really breaks up their day a bit. They might still be working on something in their English class or literature, but they're just approaching it from a different aspect," said Johnson. "I think it sorta helps them get out of the box and really learn in different ways."

Theatre staff believe the arts are needed in the community to give people an outlet in their otherwise busy lives.

"So we're just passing that along to kids making sure they understand that all of the STEAM curriculum is important. Someday they may want to be involved in arts, but even if they are an engineer or a doctor, having an arts community helps them enjoy their lives more," said Johnson.

Black Hills Impact wants to be a part of every area of the community, which they're able to do through the Giving Circle.

"It's a pool of investors and you give a certain amount once a year and then you choose where that money goes. Our goal is to give out the larger grants, ones that don't quite make the Black Hills Community Foundation Quality of Life grant cut, we want to fund those," said Black Hills Impact Member Kassie Shiffermiller.

Those involved are happy to make an impact where it matters the most.

"We are very supportive of everything Rapid City, everything Black Hills and that's where we focus our efforts," said Shiffermiller.

For more information on the Black Hills Community Theatre, click here. If you want to learn more about Black Hills Impact, head to their website here.