Visitation middle school impresses with STEM

April 11, 2014 Editorial Staff
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Admiration surely filled Visitation Academy’s Alumnae Room as parents were given the opportunity to glimpse their daughters’ creative side. The presentation was held Tuesday, March 18 as students in the middle school portion of the all-girl, private, Catholic school showed off their STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, projects.

The STEM program applies the factors that make up STEM to each project. During the three-month-long program, the students document the process, issues and successes of their effort, showing how essential each piece of STEM was to the projects.

Students put their imagination to the forefront, but they didn’t ignore real life aspects — which created balance to these projects. According to Science teacher and STEM Director Maryann McGrath the students got a taste of the reality of the engineering world.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it didn’t work, but that’s the whole process of engineering,” said McGrath. “The process is as important if not more important than the product.”

Taking their project to the seas, the sixth graders focused on nautical engineering. Not only did they design bathtub-sized boats, but they created charts and navigation routes that brought their project to life. Utilizing the language arts curriculum, the students detailed the journey of their boats around a book class reading, The Wanderer by Sharon Creech.

Karen Peters, teacher and sailor, assisted with the creative approach and the research since she is knowledgeable about nautical engineering. Peters was proud of the outcome and she even shared future plans for their boats once the weather gets warmer. “They’re going to put them in a lake and we’re going to see if they float,” said Peters. “I have more confidence in some than others but you never know what’s going to happen.”

Architectural design was the seventh grade’s STEM project. Math Teacher Loretta DeLorenzo provided guidance for the girls who each had individual products but worked collaboratively when they were in need of assistance. Their project was to design and build a room that had a motorized component in it. From fans, to lifts, to amusement park rides, the students got creative with their motorized component.

Fifth graders became inventors with their STEM project, which were simple machines. They constructed their prototype with Legos and made journals showing designs and identifying the materials that were used on the final product. Go-kart cleaners, wheel and axles, doll wheelchairs, feeding helpers and many other machines were put together by the group of student innovators.

Aiming to increase safeness on the road, eighth graders focused on contributing to transportation technology by coming up with their own products. The students showed what could be in store for the future of cars and bikes. From steering wheel safety sensors to steam-powered bikes, the students showed that they were innovators who can make a mark in the future of transportation technology.

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