Leo’s Story

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MIAD Educational Tour Brings Art to Life

Leo, a 4th grade student at Rogers Street Academy, has a deep love and talent for art. In his desk he keeps a folder packed with his sketches and drawings. His creative work inspires his classroom work.


“Making art helps me with writing,” he says. “Working on art gives me better ideas for writing, and sometimes writing gives me ideas for drawing.”


Meagan Van Ahn, Arts and Innovation Specialist with SHARP Literacy, was impressed with Leo’s art and drive to improve.


“I started thinking about what I could do to help Leo and kids like him,” she said. “I ended up meeting with Ben Dembroski, Director of Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design’s (MIAD) OpenLab, and worked with him to schedule a tour of the school for students in SHARP’s Design through Code program.”


The Design through Code program provides 4th grade students with the opportunity to create art using basic computer code. The process of learning to code promotes skills that are valuable across a variety of disciplines. During the MIAD educational tours, students learn more about ways that technology and art can be used together and gain a better understanding how rendering, prototyping and product development work in the real world.

When Rogers Street Academy’s coding class visited MIAD, Meagan and Ben had a surprise for Leo. The two scanned some of Leo’s artwork and programmed it to one of MIAD’s laser cutters. Ben programmed the machine so the group would arrive at the laser cutter just as it was etching Leo’s artwork onto acrylic. At the end of the trip, every student took home a piece of acrylic featuring Leo’s artwork.


“I was so surprised to see my drawing on the machine!” Leo exclaimed. “Going on the field trip inspired me to make new art and gave me new ideas of different things to draw and ways of drawing. I want to go back to MIAD so I can learn more.”

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