CMS students create lily pads for St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
Three CMS students with a small girl standing on her lily pad with her IV pole.
A lily pad isn't just something you find in a pond. You can now find more than 60 of them in St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, thanks to students from Colonial Middle School (CMS).

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"Kids at St. Christopher's, they have to carry around an IV pole with them. So we're making lily pads that go on top of the IV pole where they can just sit or stand and be rolled with it," said Lilli Kasmen, an eighth grade student at CMS. "And they have designs on them, so it's a little fun way for them to have options in the hospital, because they don't really have a lot of [choices]."

The lily pad project is a joint effort between Colonial Middle School's Technology Education and Art departments and St. Christopher's Child Life department managed by Hilary Israel, who also lives in the District.

"The work you have all put into this is tremendous," said Mrs. Israel during a presentation at the hospital. "You can see the love and the energy you put into it. Our patients are so fortunate."

Integrated project has ties to technology education and art

In their Tech Ed elective, middle schoolers designed the lily pads using 3D Modeling software -- a skill that the students can see has real world connections.

"It's kind of just new, and it's a good experience," said Sam Lipkin, an eighth grade student in the Technology Education class. "We aren't all exposed to a computer and computer modeling, and we could use it for some interesting things in the future."

In the art room, students employed the Four Cs -- communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity -- to brainstorm designs that were colorful and fun and then transferred those designs to the boards using acrylic paint. The images on the lily pads include sports, animals, cartoon characters, superheroes and more.

"I think it's so cool making a difference on someone else's life and that my lily pad is going to be in St. Christopher's," added Lilli. "A kid will get to use that every day and make his life a little bit more fun when what he's going through is not fun."

CMS students demonstrating how the lily pad works.

Origin of the lily pad project

Through the lily pad project, the Colonial Middle School students are continuing the work of Nick Konkler, a high school student in Washington state, who spent his short life in and out of children's hospitals as he battled cancer. He saw a little girl struggling with her IV pole one day and vowed to make enough lily pads for everyone at the Seattle area hospital. When he passed away, the students in his shop class took over the project, and now the students at CMS have brought that to St. Christopher's.

"I think that was the hook," said CMS Art Teacher Julie Horwitz. "They saw that not only were they affecting these young children at St. Christopher's, the patients in Philadelphia, in our community, they're continuing the project that Nick started, which was a personal battle, a personal goal for him. And they're very connected with the idea of continuing on his work."

A STEAM collaboration with a purpose

Once the students finished painting the designs, they wrote encouraging messages on the back of each lily pad. St. Christopher's for Children held a special event for the delivery of the lily pads, where CMS students had a chance to meet and create new designs with some of the patients from the hospital.

"I'm seeing them make art that has a purpose," said Mrs. Horwitz. "I'm seeing them excited to make something that they know is going somewhere, and it's doing something. That's very exciting to me."

The collaboration between Mrs. Horwitz and Tech Ed Teacher Jeff Yeagle demonstrates the STEAM culture in the Colonial School District through integrated lessons that have real world connections.

CMS students create lily pads for St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
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