Amanda McDonough

Amanda McDonough
Chappaqua Central School District
New York, USA

The art teacher whose creative endeavours add spark to her students' inventions

Amanda McDonough is an art teacher at Chappaqua Central School District in New York. She teaches middle school, leading the STEAM initiative in her district.

Amanda has been a member of the learning team in her district for three years. She focuses on developing the curriculum and district standards and is passionate about visualizing what the future state-of-the-art innovative STEAM space will look like.

“It was always STEM but we’re moving towards STEAM now, because everyone is realizing that there is design in all of that - science, technology, engineering and math!”

Amanda is in agreement with the popular belief that technology is everywhere and can’t be ignored. She likes to think of herself as an educator who dips into fine art as well as design art. She further explains that as art standards have evolved, e.g. there is more media art, art is becoming a channel and weaving design, collaboration and innovation is more important than ever.

For a long time, Amanda thought that she wanted to become a textile designer. She envisioned herself working for a prestigious designer, creating elaborate fabrics. However, she realised that there was one thing above all that was driving her - a love of teaching.

“It’s the kids for sure, I particularly love the middle-school age group as they’re open to so many different things, they keep you on your toes and they’re loyal. The kids were driving what I wanted to do so I stuck with teaching. I’ve been here for 13 years!”

Technology plays a very important part in Amanda’s everyday life. She explains that coding has become a new language which brings movement, sound - and life - to the art she and her students create.

“The design process is something that we do all the time – always have and always will - but when you add STEAM into it, it opens the doors to so many more possibilities.”

Amanda has had a very positive response from her students using the SAM Labs kits. She finds the packaging and the SAM blocks very visually appealing and says that her students were ‘absolutely jazzed’ by the kits, without even touching them.

“It was easy for them to get hooked as the interface is incredibly user-friendly as well. You can really dive in deeper but at the surface, kids can easily step into it with little to no hand-holding. They feel really independent with that.”

As a tech-loving art teacher, Amanda keeps inspiring us with the projects she creates with her students using SAM Labs.

One of many remarkable projects Amanda and her students have created has been inspired by Anila Quayyum Agha’s amazing Moving Lanterns.

The students started their projects with a drawing activity. Then they used a viewfinder to identify the sections with strong compositional elements. These were uploaded to Photoshop and cut to the Cameo Silhouette. The students finished off their designs by assembling their panels and adding the SAM DC Motors and SAM Lights to make their cubes move and light up.


The ambition of Amanda and her students has no end and there will surely be more exciting SAM Labs projects in the future!