Civics Meets STEM!

At The Civic Circle, performance-based learning tends to center on the humanities. Students sing songs, read poems, do "blended" poetry- and song-writing, and write their own original songs.

But technology creates an opening that is more accessible to some students, and that can also support creative performance, thanks to digital back-beats and other cutting-edge music tools.

Enter Jason Mullinax, a one-of-a-kind performer and instrument maker recently described by one blogger as "one of the most creative and prolific musicians in the DC region."

Jason makes home-made instruments out of found objects, such as the insides of a grandfather clock, and uses computer software to produce highly original electronic music compositions.

In a series of recent visits to students in Civic Circle after-school workshops, Jason gave students the opportunity to try their hands at creating digital music using a variety of free computer software programs. He also demonstrated the quirky sounds produced on his home-made instruments, and shared stories about how his life as a musician and instrument-maker has fostered civic and community connections in his life.

Jason also explained how the STEM skills he teaches are applicable to a wide variety of other media platforms, a useful tool for any student exploring civic expression in the 21st Century. As a final bonus, the students enjoyed watching Jason's YouTube video "Grim Grin," which demonstrated how anyone with a little construction paper, some pebbles, twigs and glue, and some free digital music software, can make a creative stop-action movie! A useful skill for any pandemic-bound student.

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