ITW David Speer Academy Picks Up STEAM

Image shows 5 photos in the background that depict ITW David Speer Academy students participating in activities in a wide variety of STEAM classes at their school. On top of those photos is a blue transparent layer. In the bottom left corner, there is blue text on a yellow background that says "ITW David Speer Academy Picks Up STEAM". In the bottom right corner, there is the Noble Schools logo.
Published On: December 8th, 2022Categories: 2022, Campus Life, ITW David Speer Academy, Staff, Students

This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.

ITW David Speer Academy is Noble Schools’ first STEM campus that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. However, Speer has been increasingly incorporating more Art Education courses to transition from a STEM to a STEAM school. Students at Speer take a variety of challenging courses and electives to explore their interests in STEAM fields.

At Speer, we offer a multitude of courses ranging from Physics, Aquatic Science, Civil Engineering & Architecture, to Computer Science, Media Arts, Visual Arts, and Performing Arts, just to name a few. In these courses, our students gain hands-on experience participating in inquiry and project-based learning and are exposed to rigorous academic courses similar to college.

In our STEAM courses, learning is not limited to the classroom. Teachers are encouraged to step out into the hallways or outdoors to practice stage movement for acting or group work activities. They use the east campus garden to build engineering bridges and launch rockets into the air on the football field. Speer also creates partnerships with places around Chicago, like the Shedd Aquarium, for students to attend multiple field trips throughout the school year. At Speer, we know student learning can take place anywhere, on or off campus! Take a look below at what’s happening in some of our STEAM classes this year:


Physics -Mr. Williams

Students at Speer launch rockets on the football field with Mr. Williams.

Image shows a team of ITW David Speer Academy posing with their team's winning fan car from the fan car races in their Physics class.

Physic Student Fan Car

The Powerpuff Girls, the winning team of this year's fan cart races in Speer's Physics class.

This is Mr. Williams’ second year at Speer teaching Physics. “Students learn through project-based learning to question personal experiences and scenarios in a scientific arena. Students will become successful both in the lab setting and on their assessments by participating and visualizing hands-on activities,” Mr. Williams said about the course.

Students all around Speer – from freshmen to seniors – are excited to take part in Physics and/or watch the projects take place on the football field! Mr. Williams’ states his favorite part about teaching Physics is, “THE PROJECTS! Hands down! From paper circuits to fan carts to rockets, we cover a broad range of topics that are applicable to students’ everyday lives.”

Brenda Correa is a senior currently taking Physics with Mr. Williams. She states, “My favorite part about Physics is that the experiments are very fun. Sometimes the material is hard to learn but we do a lot of experiments that cover the material we are learning so it helps me make connections. My favorite lab this year is the Slinky Lab because you can see the visuals of sounds waves, which is what we’re learning about. You can actually see what is going on and you can physically see how the sound affected the wave that you did.”

Brenda reflects back on her previous four years of STEAM classes and remarks, “My STEAM classes are challenging but like in a good way. You are able to expand your knowledge and you are able to test ‘Oh, I’m good at these specific STEAM classes and I’m not good at these ones’ which kind of helps now because as a senior, going to college, it’s good to know what STEAM classes I’m interested in that I can probably take in college.”

Check out this video of their rocket launch:


Students of Aquatic Science went on a field trip to Northerly Island with our partners from the Shedd Aquarium.

Exploring Chicago landscapes like Northerly Island helps students to make real world connections to our ecosystem and identify how environmental changes can leave a lasting impact on our city.

Aquatic Science – Northernly Island Trip

Speer students in the Aquatic Science class go fishing on Northerly Island.

Aquatic Science Shedd Trip

During a trip to Northerly Island, Speer students made clay seed bombs. The seed bombs are designed with clay so you can throw them into the ground during winter. The clay freezes, protecting the seeds, and then the bombs melt and break apart in the spring when it gets hotter, allowing new plants to grow on the island.

Evan Arger is a senior currently taking Aquatic Science who went on the trip.

“Our field trip to the Shedd was better than the previous times I have gone as a kid because I actually got to learn hands-on by fishing and I got to see more of the whole area (Northerly Island) and not just the Shedd itself,” Evan said, “I learned that the land was an old airport that everything was built on top of. We also got to see pictures inside the building of how the whole land looked before and how it is different from modern time now. It was interesting to see how they used the land for natural purposes and they kept certain habitats alive for the animals that live around there.”

Evan says his favorite part about Aquatic Science is learning about all the sea creatures.

“I just like to learn about different kinds of sea animals that I have never seen or heard of before. I like to learn how fish live underwater, how they breathe, and how they live. It’s also nice to know about algae, different kinds of underwater organisms, and different breeds of fish and how they differentiate by size and by color.”

Evan is currently interested in pursuing nursing but also has a heart for music. He appreciates the time he has spent in his STEAM classes that help him towards those goals.

“I like how my science classes are split up and interconnected over the course of four years. I am interested in pursuing nursing, so I’m glad I got to experience different types of science courses. We are going in-depth rather than just opening a textbook. We are actually getting hands-on with dissecting and readings, and it actually helps us learn more,” Evan said, “I also like my Media Arts class because it gives me an idea of how the editing process goes. which ties into something I want to do with music later on. I want to record myself playing covers, and this class can actually help me edit certain parts of my videos.”

Performing Arts with Mr. Sanabria

Image shows ITW David Speer Academy students in the performing arts class taking a field trip to the Steppenwolf Theater. In this photo, they are sitting in the audience, getting ready to watch the play 1919, which is adapted from Chicago poet Eve Ewings writings.

Performing Arts

Performing Arts students took a trip to Steppenwolf Theater to watch the play adapted from Chicago poet Eve Ewings’ writings called 1919. The play follows the true story of how Eugene Williams, a Black teenage boy, was killed for swimming in Lake Michigan and the riots that followed. Afterwards, students had the opportunity to ask the actors questions and discuss their thoughts on the play.

“I really liked it,” senior Daniel Jacinto-Rendon said, “The actors did a really good job. I learned a lot just by watching their movements and facial expressions. I was impressed that they had to memorize a lot of lines. They said they had been rehearsing for a few months so I know it was a lot of hard work.”

This is the second year of Speer’s new Performing Arts course and many students, including Daniel, were excited it was added.

“When I was in middle school, I was in a play and I got interested in acting. So I am happy that our school added a Performing Arts class so I can focus on something that interests me,” Daniel said.

Daniel also said he appreciates the Performing Arts class not only because he’s interested in acting but because of how fun it is.

“My favorite part about Performing Arts is the fun activities. We play games like Zoom, Splat, or Mirror where you have to copy your partner and reflect their actions or emotions,” Daniel said.

Daniel said he’s currently looking at colleges that have theater programs because he wants to study it more and become an actor.

Mr. Sanabria, the Performing Arts teacher, says he loves teaching Performing Arts.

“I love teaching Performing Arts because it allows students to channel their creativity through acting, presentations, and dialogue,” Mr. Sanabria said, “Students also have the opportunity to acquire new skills through master classes given by collegiate theater professors from DePaul and North Park University. Performing Arts challenges students to be well rounded in their studies of both academics and arts.”

CIVIC ENGINEERING with Mr. kralovec

Civil Engineering Students – Bridge

Speer students recreate Leonardo da Vinci's self-supporting bridge in their Civil Engineering class.

Civil Engineering – Mr. Kralovec

Mr. Kralovec and his Civic Engineering class building the bridge.

Mr. Kralovec took his civil engineering students outside of the classroom to recreate Leonardo da Vinci’s design for a self-supporting bridge!

Civil Engineering students are continuously challenged to analyze structures in our environment, identify problems, and create solutions to improve our community.

“In the Civil Engineering 2 class, students get the chance to take their design ideas to the next level. The opportunity for them to express their creativity is limitless,” Mr. Kralovec said about the class.

Yesenia Pineda, a senior who is currently taking Civil Engineering said, “ My favorite part of class is getting to learn and use a website called Makerspace to create designs in class. We are currently designing a weight rack to help our P.E. teachers at Speer. Our projects are challenging but it makes me a better student by learning to overcome obstacles.”

Speer encourages all teachers and students to make cross-curricular connections between content areas. It’s great for students to see how the knowledge they acquire can be applied to other areas of learning.

Computer Science with mr. halbe

Computer Science – Mr. Halbe

Mr. Halbe leading his intro Comupter Science course at Speer.

Computer Science is an introductory-level course for students brand new to programming and computer science. In this course, students learn problem-solving strategies, software design, and the foundations of computer science.

Emanuel Zotamba is a senior currently taking Computer Science. His favorite part of the class, he says, is the coding activities.

“It helps us think outside the box. I’m learning about Java this year, which is much trickier because it requires much more coding than the other platforms I was using for my previous Computer Science programs such as Scratch and Python,” Emanuel said, “Right now we are learning how to solve ‘If/else’ conditional statements. This means if the user enters a specific answer, the response action will let you know if your answer is right or wrong.”

Emanuel says attending Speer and taking a variety of STEAM classes has greatly impacted his college and career dreams.

“I want to go to college and pursue Visual Arts or Engineering or even Coding because coming sparked an interest. I learned a lot,” Emanuel said, “I had Aquatic Science and Engineering. Those courses really helped me be more thoughtful about the things that are going on in our world. I can use the knowledge I learned in Engineering to probably design something in the future. And with Computer Science, I can probably make my own apps, like social media or games. I can probably make something that can impact the world.”


At Speer, we are continuously expanding our list of courses and electives to give students opportunities to explore their STEAM interests. Our amazing staff’s dedication to finding creative ways to take the learning outside of the classroom, are just some of the many reasons why students love our STEAM courses.

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