If you go

What: Arts Learning Lab

Where: Challenger STEM Learning Center, 855 E. Eighth St.

When: July 10-13, (Elementary); July 17-20 (Secondary).

Fee: Free

Details: Priority registration opens Thursday, March 15,for up to 20 past attendees of the Challenger STEM Center’s summer academies; there will be 10 attendees in each track. General registration opens April 1 for up to 40 new teachers (20 each track).

Requirements: Participants must register in teacher teams of two to three educators, and we highly encourage at least one member being an arts specialist.one for elementary and one for secondary. It earns teachers up to 50 hours of professional development hours, but it also requires a commitment to participate in one of the summer tracks, attend at least two follow-up planning clinics during the school year and also attend the annual Celebration for Arts Learning Lab event in which participants share samples of student work, and upload implemented units to the Tennessee Arts Commission Lesson Plan database.

Information: Contact Michele Mummert at Michele-M-Mummert@utc.edu.


The social studies teacher is diving into the Renaissance and wants new and different ways to present her lessons. She doesn’t want to simply open a book and lecture; she wants something that will engage the students in a tangible way.

How about art? Renaissance works are considered to be among the most beautiful in history. The artwork reaches into all levels of Renaissance society, from how people live to what they believe to the way they think.

That collaborative approach of art inclusion is a key goal for the Arts Learning Lab, a new partnership between UTC’s Southeast Center for Education in the Arts and the Challenger STEM Learning Center. Expanding beyond STEM, the summer program is aiming for STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

“We’re taking time to dive into what that ‘A’ means,” says Laurie Melnik, executive director at the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts.

For the program—which runs in two sessions in July one for elementary teachers, one for middle school—it means art specialists partner with teachers who teach other subjects in grades K-8, finding different ways to approach the curriculum. For instance, a drama teacher pairing with a social studies teacher might have set of teaching tools that aren’t the usual ones in the social studies toolbox, Melnik says.

“Maybe they want them to understand culture. The drama teacher could say, ‘Here’s how I teach culture in my own class. Maybe if we work together, the students cannot just learn more, we can go deeper and deeper into the subject.”

UTC Fine Arts students and Education students will also benefit from attending the program, to both observe and participate, Melnik says.

The program is part of the summer academies offered each year by the Challenger Center, says Executive Director Perry Storey, but this is the first time STEAM elements have been part of the usual STEM camps.

“We are planning, operating, marketing and staffing the camps as usual and partnering with SCEA to provide some Arts tracks which will expand the types of activates our students will be exposed to,” he says. “We have attempted to adjust our teams to complement each other and to expands Challenger Center programs.”

The program is focusing on teachers from the 16-county region around Chattanooga.

With art classes being dropped at many schools, especially elementary and middle schools, one of the goals of Arts Learning Lab is to “repositioning the conversation of arts in well-rounded education,” Melnik says. “If we do bring it back for the grade-level teacher, whatever it looks like, that’s huge.”


Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.

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