While most students were relaxing and taking a hiatus from school over Spring Break, more than 100 K-8 students signed up for the District’s first three-day Spring into STEM program to engage in some fun project-based learning and enrichment activities.
Emerson school building was bustling with classrooms full of students from each elementary grade for the three hours of instruction each day. Keeping the focus on fun, teachers assigned creative projects that helped students grasp concepts related to science, math and engineering with a dose of literacy integration as well.
For example, shaking a structure built out of toothpicks and mini-marshmallows atop a pan of Jell-O was one class’s fun way of learning about civil engineering and building an earthquake-proof (or not) building. Another class learned about buoyancy and built pirate ships and fifth-graders worked on an egg-drop project where they learned about force of gravity and aerodynamics. A program highlight entailed testing out the creations the fifth-graders built to protect and carry their eggs when dropped from the roof of the building! All classes were able to watch as program administrator Bridgette Firstenberger dropped the transport vehicles from the school roof. All cheered as the creations made their way down to the pavement followed by a classmate excitedly recovering the egg (or not).
At the high school, students in grades 6-8 enjoyed a program focused on the problem of food waste with the help of instructors from the West Shore Career-Tech Culinary Arts and Project Lead the Way programs. Students got hands-on in the culinary arts kitchen peeling some oranges and learning how to make candied orange peels so no part of the orange goes to waste. Students also spent time in the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering classroom examining the food waste problem worldwide through maps, charts and graphs and learning about possible solutions. Students even went "dumpster diving" and examined what was thrown away from their breakfasts and trash from West Shore Executive Director Bill DiMascio’s house.
Chef Devan Corti brought the students full circle back to the Culinary Arts lab for the students to dip their candied orange peels into some melted chocolate, making a delicious and profitable treat! The oranges reminded students of how they can come up with creative solutions to tackle the food waste problem.
The Spring into STEM program was the first of several enrichment programs the District has developed to help give extra support that some students need as a result of the past year of online learning. There will be more programs and camps available this summer. More details on those will be shared later this spring.