New Sound Transit program helps South King County students learn through the arts

Program is a joint effort of STart and local artist Carina A. del Rosario.

Ready to stArt Exploring?

Sound Transit’s latest program teaches elementary South King County students science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts in addition to critical thinking skills through interactive on-line art activities — giving STEM ideas STEAM by adding “A” for art with the help of artist instructors.

Teaching artist Carina A. del Rosario produced the stArt Exploring set of free, web-based video education resources with support from Sound Transit’s art program, STart, for the Federal Way Link Extension project.

Planning where important services are located in a neighborhood, using engineering ideas to solve transit problems, considering how we interact with the environment and connecting communities by learning stories about our neighbors are all part of developing and implementing a light rail system.

While arts integration with STEM is not new, it is to Sound Transit, which provided funding for stArt Exploring.

“STart wanted to explore new ways to connect with the people in the communities we serve. stArt Exploring provides young scholars in South King County with exciting ways to learn about STEM and to also develop their creativity and problem-solving abilities,” said Barbara Luecke, manager of STart. “In the process of planning permanent artwork at all our Federal Way Link stations we asked ourselves, what are some additional ways that art can have a deeper impact in our service area. We see stArt Exploring as a way to support young people, our future transit riders and potential employees, so they can learn art skills and apply them to their own projects.”

sTart Exploring’s arts-integrated approach is grounded in academic standards, while also addressing social-emotional learning and cultural relevancy. Each 10-20 minute lesson is designed for specific grade levels (K-2nd and 3rd-5th) and comes with an activity guide and closed-captioned video to help teachers and caregivers support young people’s learning.

Content is available in English, Spanish, and Russian. Promotional videos on individual lessons will be rolled out in October, November and December. Lessons can be found at

“I see students’ eyes totally light up when they get to make art while they learn other subjects,” said del Rosario, an award-winning arts educator. “Even during this pandemic year, when they’ve had to learn mostly through live or recorded video, I’ve heard from the teachers I collaborate with that the assignments involving art are the ones students want to do first and turn in.”

Information on the Federal Way Link Extension project is available at