Bay Ridge

Fontbonne students guide Visitation girls through STEM

October 2, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Students from Fontbonne Hall Academy are helping girls from Visitation Academy become acquainted with STEM. Photo courtesy of Fontbonne Hall Academy

Two of Bay Ridge’s Catholic schools are working together on a project aimed at promoting the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as desirable courses of study for female students.

Both Fontbonne Hall Academy, at Shore Road and 99th Street, and Visitation Academy, at 8902 Ridge Boulevard, are schools for girls.

Fontbonne, a high school, has asked its students to assist the girls from Visitation, a K-8 school, with STEM projects.

Working together, the two schools have created a fundamental STEM course aimed at helping prepare seventh and eighth graders for more rigorous courses when they enter high school.

Visitation students are already getting a head start, according to school officials, who said the girls are already engaged in a STEM curriculum that emphasizes hands-on learning.

Students in Visitation’s upper grades have learned how to work with a 3D printer. And several Visitation students have participated in Fontbonne’s Girls Who Code Club. 

“Our girls have a better understanding of real-world applications of problem solving in this blended learning environment,” Visitation Principal Arlene Figaro said. “Our STEM classroom lives by the motto, ‘We learn; we touch the future.’” 

Over at Fontbonne, students are already immersed in a true STEM curriculum.

“With an emphasis on science and technology taught through Project-Based Learning, we are STEM now,” Principal Mary Ann Spicijaric said.

Ninth graders will take an Advanced Physical Science course, which combines chemistry and physics taught through problems that students will be required to solve creatively.

Spicijaric plans to add a mandatory engineering component to the Advanced Physical Science course in the fall of 2016.

Fontbonne offers several other AP science classes, including a pre-college engineering program sponsored by Brown University.

Fontbonne students also participate in the Science Research Program, a three-year sequence of classes beginning in the tenth grade that challenges a student to design a research objective and carry out a procedure to investigate and collect data.

“Our students are engaged, and they learn in small classes filled with smart young women,” Spicijaric said.