Mehlville collaboration hits a high note

Beasley Elementary School teachers Ben McClusky and Doug Timme create a musical instrument as part of the Science of Learning Instrument Design, or SOLID, Music Project.

Beasley Elementary School teachers Ben McClusky and Doug Timme create a musical instrument as part of the Science of Learning Instrument Design, or SOLID, Music Project.

The Mehlville School District is teaming up with the St. Louis Science Center, the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries and Boeing to integrate STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — skills into the study of music.

The collaborative program is called the Science of Learning Instrument Design, or SOLID, Music Project. The project will help students first understand the science of sound and then let them create their own instruments.

This project will help students first understand the science of sound and then let them create their own instruments.

“There is a reason a tuba looks the way it does,” Tim Mulhall of the St. Louis Science Center stated in a Mehlville School District news release. “It’s not just because that’s the way it produces the best sound. It’s also the way it makes it look visually interesting.”

Music and art teachers from across the Mehlville District attended a professional development class right after the holiday break, learning how to turn ordinary household items into musical instruments.

“We are showing there is a real life application in the fine arts for other career areas,” Laurie Tretter Larkin, the district’s director of fine arts, stated in the release. “That creative design process has always been there in the arts. Music and art students will now be able to explore and understand the physics of sound and music — what causes sound to change pitch and why different materials create different musical sounds.”

As part of the music partnership, all schools in the district will have the opportunity to invite experts from the Science Center and the Sheldon to help teach the classes that merge music, art and technology.

“If we are preparing kids to work in the real world, they have to have a literature context, a culture context, a fine arts context,” STEM Education Consultant Ray Wicks stated in the release. “If you get students and teachers thinking about STEM as a problem solving process, it can be applied to anything.”

Because of financial and educational support from Boeing, the Sheldon and the St. Louis Science Center, the SOLID Music Project does not cost the Mehlville School District any money, according to the release.