The district hosted a STEM Day for girls on February 16, with nearly 65 eighth grade girls signed up to attend.
STEM is the merging of science and technology coursework learned in a laboratory setting.
There are currently 30 students enrolled in the required, year-long introductory course, Foundations of Technology.
Next year, it will be offered as half-year class to allow more students to enroll.
Principal Frank Morano said the district made a commitment to STEM about two years ago, spending $500,000 to convert the former wood shop into a lab.
“We did a lot of research to determine the type of curriculum we were going to use, and how to turn the wood shop room into a state-of-the-art STEM lab,” Morano said. “After tons of research, we selected Engineering by Design, and have turned it into a program that has really taken off.”
Registration was modest at first, but once students gained an understanding of STEM, enrollment grew.
“It was one of our school goals for a few years, to increase our enrollment of female students taking STEM courses,” Morano said. “The addition of Ms. [Hera] Kalu has been a major asset to get to our goal. Students love her and she had a true passion for engineering and physics. Female students are excited to take it because they see a woman teaching the class.”
Teacher Timothy Ajala explained that STEM differs from more traditional science classes.
“It’s different in the sense that STEM is more about application, because we apply what we learn and involves problem-solving activities,” Ajala said.
Freshman Chloe Webster-Kim, together with her team members, has created wind-powered turbines, hydraulic arms, a bridge and is designing and constructing a to-scale model house.
Other topics tackled by the STEM students –rocket launches with a raw egg cargo, designing a universal cell phone case, separating oil and water, inventing a sorting machine and building a Rube Goldberg device demonstrating the nine core technologies.
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