Regional STEM Festival is Educational Success

Steering Comm.: Judy Poledano, Erica Naughton, Patricia Viggiano, Thomas Glickman, Ray Loverso and David Jacob. Absent:  Debbie Ashley, Helen Pashley and Dorna Schroeter.

Steering Comm.: Judy Poledano, Erica Naughton, Patricia Viggiano, Thomas Glickman, Ray Loverso and David Jacob. Absent: Debbie Ashley, Helen Pashley and Dorna Schroeter.

“We envisioned this as a community event with parents bringing their kids to a science fair, and families taking part,” David Jacob said a few days after the successful March 7 Regional STEM Festival. The districts attending were diverse; nearly half of the 400 students were female.

Jacob, Regional Science Coordinator at Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, said too often science fairs focus on competition. Last week’s non-competitive atmosphere allowed kids to show their work in Science/research (Research It!), Robotics (Program It!), Maker/inventor (Invent It!) and Engineering (Build It!).

STEAMedAmong the special exhibits were Monster Storms and Green Machine; presentations included the STEAM van, the Green Machine, the New NY Bridge and the New NY Bridge and meteorologist Jim Witt.

“Being invited is a great honor: to have the opportunity to present this project to these kids, and to excite them about the opportunities that we can present to their lives.” — NNYB Educational Outreach Administrator Andy O’Rourke

Green Machine“Common Core kicked up the expectations for students, and that comes with exposure to global movement and business,” Jacob said. “We can’t be isolated, and students are competing globally. The question is, ‘How to make education work?’ ‘How does STEMfest fit into Common Core to get students thinking differently?’”

Thirty-nine students from Ossining, Putnam Valley, Lakeland, Edgemont, Ardsley and Henry Hudson presented 21 projects. This is grassroots for Science 21 (a K-6 elementary science program) that comes with kits and services Rockland and Putnam.

Learning about the new bridge's foundation

Learning about the new bridge’s foundation

“It’s exciting to see the kids work on special projects, so many things kids can access. It opens them to new opportunities, and teachers are plugged in to challenge them to apply their skills,” O’Rourke said. “And when challenged, they’d say, ‘I can do that’ and ‘That makes sense.’”

Anne M. Dorner Middle School Assistant Principal Erica Naughton felt the event created its own energy.

“Feedback from parents was, ‘How can our schools find out this is going on?’ There’s an interest in, and a need for, this education. Kids liked people asking them about their projects and demonstrating what they know.”

One student completed her research during the day, surveying people about what they had for breakfast that morning, she said. Once the students shared with the judges, Naughton said, they had a chance to interact with the other exhibits and each other.

“We’re hoping to expand the categories in the future and to engage the engineering component more,” Jacob said.

Can we look forward to the 2nd Annual Regional STEM Festival next year?

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

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