The Washington Post

Fairfax County, Wolf Trap team up in the classroom

At a Capitol Hill briefing on Tuesday, officials from the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts and Fairfax County public schools superintendent Jack D. Dale outlined the progress of a joint initiative funded by the Education Department.

The program, which promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education through the arts, was funded with a $1.15 million grant from the Department of Education and involves 1,440 Fairfax County pre-K and kindergarten students.

Wolf Trap artists teamed up with Fairfax teachers to create a curriculum that blends music and dance to help youngsters learn basics of math (counting) and science (finding patterns).

Dale described the program as the “integration of the arts as a medium” through which teachers demonstrate STEM principles.

“It makes things come alive for the kids,” Dale said. “It’s a powerful thing to see.”

Dale said that the program promotes creativity and collaboration between the children, which he said leads to better learning.

“Kids are amazingly creative and we need to get out of their way sometimes,” Dale said. “With kids coming from all across the world [to Fairfax County schools], the thing that pulls them all together is culture, which is the arts.”

The Wolf Trap arts and STEM program is part of a research project that began in 2010 and will end in 2014. Akua Kouyate, Wolf Trap’s senior director for education, said that programs based on the Wolf Trap and Fairfax County model will be replicated in 16 other regions in the country.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.

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