Thornapple Kellogg School District

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Full STEAM Ahead for Learning

It was a perfect example of how those five subjects, often referred to as STEAM in education circles,  were used together in a real-life situation. And it was something even the youngest kindergarten and first grade students at McFall Elementary could understand.

Kevin DePree of SoundIsRed LLC, had McFall Elementary students dancing, clapping, stomping their feet and waving their hands to the beats of the drum.  And when he unveiled the electric drum set, the youngsters broke out into wild cheers.

The whole idea behind the educational program is to teach students the importance of science, technology, engineering, arts and math and to inspire students to develop their own STEAM skills.  "I'm going to show you how I use them all every day," he said after introducing each of the subjects.

With his obvious musical talents, DePree captured the attention of the McFall students as they listened to his early drumming with just a two-piece set, to the much more dramatic music he performed with the electronic drum set and flashing lights.

"I can do all of that because of science, technology, engineering, arts and math," he said. "It's amazing!"

Emphasizing the importance of doing their best, DePree had each of the students repeat a pledge: "I promise to improve my skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. I will make myself better so I can make our world better."

Taking a tub filled with "junk" he demonstrated how to think creatively and made his own "junk" drum set out of pots and pans, plastic buckets and containers. "You can do it, too," he said.

DePree created SoundIsRed LLC, a multimedia production company focusing on education and performing arts. The company was started in 2010 and since then DePree has performed his educational program at many school assemblies and interactive workshops.

As a musician, DePree toured with the Blue Lake fine Arts Big Band in Europe as the principal drummer, performed drums for Blues artist Greg Nagy including co-writing songs that have been aired worldwide, produced music that has been licensed on television programs public events and advertising, and collaborated on BBC television music scoring projects.