Academy of Notre Dame Students Present STEAM-Based Moving Masterpieces

Academy of Notre Dame Students Present STEAM-Based Moving Masterpieces

Eighth grade students at the Academy of Notre Dame (NDA) integrate, art and robotics in their most recent technical design project.


Last Monday, February 11, parents and special guests attended a viewing of Moving Masterpieces, where students recreated well-known pieces of artwork with the addition of motion and lighting. The two-dimensional paintings were transformed with computer code, using Hummingbird robotics kits, and became three-dimensional kinetic forms of art.


Students have reported that this project helped them to gain more knowledge and even peak an interest in different techniques.  Annalise Stangroom of Lowell and her partner Melissa Badendeick of Tyngsboro recreated “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh. Stangroom says she has gained a better understanding of how to code moving components. "The project provided me a more in depth experience on how to use Hummingbird and all of the motors and sensors to our advantage in the painting to really make it more aesthetically pleasing than it already was," explains Stangroom.


Alexis Martineau of Merrimack, NH, who used Aja Kusick’s “The Eiffel Tower” painting as inspiration, says putting art and technology together was fun. “It was so interesting and I know it will help me do other projects in the future.”


NDA Staff were moved by the dedication and effort students put into their projects.


"I knew our students were ready to put their computer programming skills to the test, but I was so impressed with the caliber of their artwork and the overall outcome of the projects," says Computer Specialist Marianne Finocchiaro.


STEAM-based learning experiences are incorporated into every classroom at NDA. As for the Moving Masterpiece project, it is the result of a successful teacher collaboration between Finocchiaro, Art Specialist Teresa Reich and STEAM Specialist Jennifer Holder.


"This was a great project that helped students learn more about the creative and design process, engineering, electronics, computer programming, and presentation skills," says Holder. As a center for creativity and innovation, the Makerspace was a hub of activity during the design and construction phase of the project. Then students brought their masterpieces to the computer lab to connect the robotics.


The trial and error aspect of the learning experience was integral to the project and made it exciting.  Badendieck says that she surprised herself with her own artistic talent and time management, but it wasn’t easy. "The challenges that we had to overcome were placing the motors through the cardboard properly and getting the coding to match up with the moving components and the lights."


 According to Elizabeth O’Connell, Principal of the Lower School, inquiry-based work such as the Masterpiece assignment develops the skills necessary to compete with peers from every corner of the world. “Projects like this focus on learning goals that are rooted in problem solving, communication, collaboration, and self-management. Project-based learning is a great way for teachers to provide an equal opportunity for students of all learning styles to achieve success in showing what they know and what they can do with the information that they have learned through research and classroom discussion,” says O’Connell.


To learn more about the Academy's co-ed Early Years, Lower School and Middle School programs or its all-girls Upper School, contact Admissions at (978)649-7611, Ext. 337, or visit