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Bicultural-Bilingual Studies collaborates with MBAW to incorporate STEM into art programs

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The College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) is working with the non-profit performing arts organization Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW) on an educational STEM-integrated and multicultural art program called Musical Sprouts. COEHD will continue partnership with MBAW this fall. Principal investigators Dr. Belinda Bustos Flores, Professor and Associate Dean of Professional Preparation & Partnership; Dr. Becky Huang, Associate Professor in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, along with research assistant Yangting (Tina) Wang oversee the research and evaluation of the Musical Sprouts program.

MBAW’s mission is to unite, educate and inspire students through culturally diverse performing and visual arts programming. The idea of Musical Sprouts is to merge fine arts and STEM, which consists of three culturally specific concerts and fifteen Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) lessons per school year and are performed by artists from around the world. The STEAM lessons, developed by award-winning elementary school teachers, are taught to 3rd-5th grade students once a week by the teachers at their respective elementary schools. The Musical Sprouts program visits each participating elementary school three segments a year. For each segment, the STEAM lesson focuses on a particular country as their theme and takes the children on a journey to experience different cultures.

The three-year study (2019-2022) will investigate the impact of the program on participating children’s cultural awareness, mental health, and STEM learning outcomes. The current project will follow a cohort of 3rd graders for three years. Paula Winkler, M.Ed., Director of the South Central Area Health Education Center (AHEC), is a co-investigator on the project and she enhances the project by facilitating the assessment of the mental health and emotional impact of Musical Sprouts on children. Musical Sprouts is currently implemented in four treatment schools and two control schools in the Greater San Antonio area. The control schools have an opportunity to experience the concert performances, while the treatment schools receive both concerts and the STEAM curriculum.

Dr. Anya Grokhovski, D.M.A., CEO and Artistic Director of MBAW and co-investigator on the project, states, “It is difficult for children to have exposure to foreign cultures at an early age.” She believes creative multicultural curriculum that integrates music and arts into STEM learning enhances critical thinking skills for young children. She further expressed the long-term goal of the program is to foster cultural awareness in the children of today so that they grow up to be well-rounded, global citizens of tomorrow.

For the past three years, Musical Sprouts has made a dramatic impact on children. “Musical Sprouts is helping us achieve the United Nation’s sustainable goals in growing global citizens. As a campus, our main goal is to show the kids the world since our kids don’t leave the neighborhood. We want to grow their imagination by showing them the world,” Mrs. Castillo, principal of the Price Elementary School, stated.

Mr. Martin, principal of Devine Intermediate School, also believes the difference Musical Sprouts is making and would like to make the program a bigger priority. “Because of the cultural aspect of the curriculum and the integration of the academic areas, I would like to see it being adopted in the main curriculum,” said Mr. Martin.

Mrs. Hoog, a 3rd grade teacher from Devine Intermediate School, said, “the reason I like Musical Sprouts is that it allows me to think outside the box, take ownership of my teaching, and integrate all the academic areas in one lesson. It was the most fun I have ever had in my teaching career.” The creativity and hands-on aspects of the program made the lessons special and innovative.

Reflecting on the lessons, Avi, a current 6th grader from SST-Discovery shared what she appreciates about the program. “I appreciated the curriculum because it made me appreciate other cultures. When I heard about the flute performance from the Japan segment, I immediately remembered my childhood in India hearing the flute from Krishna. It shows me that we are all connected.” The Multicultural art element of Musical Sprouts not only enables students to become more aware of other cultures, but also their own.

The Musical Sprouts program has received positive feedback from the participating students, teachers, and school principals. The program is growing and is being recognized by San Antonio schools and organizations. On October 28, MBAW won a high impact grant of $100,000 from ImpactSA. This grant will be used to expand Musical Sprouts from serving 750 kids to 6,000 kids in Title one elementary schools in San Antonio.

Mr. Caleb Gonzalez, the Educational Outreach Director of MBAW, indicated that more than 20 schools have expressed interest in participating in the program. With the ongoing evaluation, research and collaboration with the San Antonio community, the program can showcase the change Musical Sprouts makes in children’s lives.

For more Information on the Musical Sprouts Program:


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