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Full STEAM ahead: Meet teacher Melissa Love

 Vermillion Elementary School STEAM teacher Melissa Love works with her students.Melissa Love feels like a superhero when she walks the halls of Vermillion Elementary School during the day: Students often approach her and say, "Mrs. Love, we’re ready to go to Steam."

“It just makes my heart happy just to hear the kids want to come to STEAM,” Love said.

Love has been in the field of education for 16 years, and this year starts her third year with the Maize district, teaching mostly fourth and fifth grade. This is her first year teaching STEAM, and she said teaching it is something she looks forward to every day when she wakes up.

“I can’t be any happier than what I am right now,” Love said.

When she was little, she said no one talked to her about different career fields like engineering or what you could do with math. When a teacher told her to be a computer programmer, Love said she brushed it off because she thought only men went into those fields.

“I wish I could go back in time and tell myself, ‘Yes, anybody can do this,’” Love said.

She talks about different careers in her classroom, and she lets the girls in the class know that they can work those jobs, too.

“We've talked about different types of engineers, like mechanical and environmental, we talked about agricultural food engineers -- and just letting them know that these jobs are out there,” Love said.

 Vermillion Elementary School STEAM teacher Melissa Love works with her students.In Love’s classroom, you’ll find a LEGO wall, KEVA blocks, STEAM bins, Magna tiles, robots, art supplies, and more. She said her favorite part of teaching STEAM is seeing the different learning abilities that the kids have across all of the grade levels at Vermillion.

“Even some of the kindergarteners blow me away with some of the ideas they come up with,” Love said. “That’s why I love STEAM. I just want them to know that their ideas could be something that changes the world down the road. I want them to feel empowered.”

STEAM is a lot of hands-on engagement, Love said. For kids who struggle in math, the STEAM room can help, because the students can apply what they are learning in the classroom. For example, how many sides a 3D figure has, how many faces it has, or how many edges a shape has.

“It really helps build that knowledge for them,” Love said.

If parents want to know what STEAM is, Love said, she describes it as “the future,” which includes robotics, coding, and building web pages.

“It’s that engagement and that hands-on. It’s something that the kids love coming to do,” Love said. “And they’re applying everything they’re learning in school into one classroom in a fun, different way.”

The bigger lesson that students learn in the STEAM classroom is collaboration – something that Love has discussed with her older students.

 Vermillion Elementary School STEAM teacher Melissa Love works with her students.“Every job you work at, you will be working with other people with different backgrounds, skills, and knowledge,” Love said. “And by learning to collaborate at a younger age, it will make it easier as the students continue to learn and grow.”

Read the STEAM series