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STEM helps Indian Creek Middle students find sound

MAKING MUSIC — Eighth-graders in Michael Minor’s STEM class at Indian Creek Middle School fashioned thongophones, or percussion instruments made of PVC pipe, and will provide the equipment to fifth-graders in the new rhythm exploration class. Preparing the instruments were, from left, Gianna Bellum, Kayla Myers and Harley Kemp. (Contributed photo)

MINGO JUNCTION — Music and technology have combined at Indian Creek Middle School where STEM techniques are being used to help students find their sound.

Eighth-graders in Michael Minor’s STEM class recently created original thongophones, or percussion instruments made of PVC pipe, to help fifth-graders learn about music. Minor said the idea was formed this summer when music teachers Kim and Kent Howell opted to create a rhythm exploration class instead of recruiting the newest students for band.

“I thought about what instruments we could make in the classroom and thought of PVC pipe. We chose the instrument because of the availability of materials and the simplicity of use,” he explained, saying materials were purchased through the ICMS Principal’s Fund. “We made treble and bass ones in STEM class and will pass them on to the music class.”

Minor added that his class of 10 students was divided into two smaller groups and had a huge hand in designing the 12 instruments, which he will then fine tune and present to Howell’s pupils.

“The goal is if we continue to do this, we will try to do an instrument every rotation. Maybe if we fashion more instruments we can hopefully have a club to play them.”

He said the instruments were also selected because they are also easy to make at home. Minor noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to smaller classes at the school due to the availability of remote learning, which allowed all of his face-to-face students to perform a task.

Kim Howell said she established the rhythm exploration class because recruiting the nearly 30 fifth-graders for band meant having close contact during instruction. This way, they can follow proper safety protocols and learn at the same time.

“We did not feel safe making a beginning band class and we knew we needed a teach a class and wanted to do something meaningful, so when the kids did join the band it would give them experience. My husband teaches instruments in sixth-grade and we thought about having students study rhythm,” she said, continuing that it has been positive. “The fifth grade is reading at levels where seventh-graders are reading. It’s fast-paced and they are really enjoying it.”

She was appreciative of Minor and his students’ efforts to provide handcrafted equipment to enable her class to learn.

“This will add to what we can do in the classroom,” Howell commented.

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