Our Schools

October 2016 - STEM in the Fall

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The New Providence School District is in the second year of the new STEM initiative. This edition of Our Schools will focus on the STEM professional development, new STEM courses, and related classroom activities that have been implemented in the four schools this fall. Many thanks to the teachers, administrators and community support groups who have worked hard to ensure the successful start of this initiative.
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It's Elementary - Teacher PD

Select groups of teachers have undergone professional development this fall to help introduce important STEM components into the K-6 curriculum.

Teachers in the 1-4 STEM pilot group were trained in the incorporation of the Engineering Design Process into the elementary curriculum. The workshop was presented by facilitators from Stevens Institute of Technology and emphasized the use of the new engineering standards found in the Next Generation Science Standards.

Teachers experimented with using storybooks to introduce design challenges, created codes as instructions and designed water filters. The teachers were also introduced to the Engineering is Elementary program and it's accompanying kits. Three teachers will be piloting this program during the school year to determine its efficacy for use next year at each grade level.

The K-6 Technology support group was recently trained in the use of the Dash and Dot Robots (provided by an NPEF grant), the Green Screen (another NPEF grant), and strategies on how to implement and use a variety of age-appropriate coding apps. The training allows teachers to turn-key the important concepts with their peers and to help develop STEM related activities for the classroom.

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First Grade - Using Story Books to Introduce Engineering

First grade classes at Salt Brook recently read the story The Mixed-Up Chameleon and discussed each body part the chameleon received, and how they helped it function in nature. Next, the students brainstormed at least 3 different parts from other animals and redesigned and re-engineered a new chameleon with those parts. They were able to use construction paper, markers, crayons, and colored pencils, to add body parts that helped the animal. They chose parts that would help their chameleon run faster, be better protected, or help it catch prey. The activity incorporated science and engineering into a Language Arts reading lesson.
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Third Grade - Halloween STEM

Third grade classes at Salt Brook each completed the Halloween candy bag challenge. During the activity, the students were challenged to create the strongest and largest candy bag possible out of everyday materials. The students used the engineering design process to design, test, and reflect on their creations. Some groups focused on making a strong handle to support mass while others focused on making the biggest possible bag for volume.

The challenge exposed the students to the concepts of mass and volume taught later in the year. Mass and volume pieces from the Go Math kits were used to test each bag and the students graphed the class data using tally charts, frequency tables, and bar graphs. The activity addressed a number of science and math standards while engaging the students in an engineering design challenge.

5th Grade Coding

Dash and Dot Robots (purchased last year as part of an NPEF grant) are being used in the elementary schools to introduce and expand on computer programming . Fifth grade students at Salt Brook recently used the robots as part of their science unit on variables.

The students programmed 'Dot' to complete a variety of sound/light sequence tasks using the Blockly platform and then used the program they created to play games involving variables. Students changed variables during the tasks and discussed the effect of each change. The activity was designed to strengthen student understanding of the role variables play in scientific investigations.

Reading about Engineering

Sixth-grade students at AWR have been reading and discussing the articles shown below on biomedical engineering from Newsela, an online current events literacy site.

  • Up in the air: Do high-tech artificial limbs give athletes an edge?
  • In world's first brain-powered drone race, everyone's head is in the game
  • Kids love their Robohands
  • A "bionic" leg that's a marvel of 21st-century engineering
  • Does adding extra padding make football helmets safer? Experts split.

These articles are exposing the students to how the engineering design process has helped fix or improve the functioning of the human body. They are also an integral part of a new unit on the body systems that addresses the Next Generation Science Standards.
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STEM Clubs

Extracurricular STEM Clubs are available at all schools.

Grades 3-6 - Contact AWR or Salt Brook school office.

NPMS - Contact Mr. Horner or Mr. Cooper

NPHS - Contact Ms. Moser, Mr. Russo, Mr. Hodroski or Ms. Egnozzi

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This fall saw the introduction of the new middle school Coding mod. This interactive, hands-on, inquiry based STEM mod introduces students to coding and the culture of creative computing through the use of Scratch, the Codea App, and the newly released Swift Playground App.

The course is designed to increase student fluency with computational creativity and computational thinking, and students are encouraged to take risks while collaborating with others and to recognize failure as a learning opportunity. Students reflect on their own work in online design journals, and analyze, critique and provide feedback for others before engaging in a final Hack-a-Thon of sharing, displaying, and presenting their projects and ideas.

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Digital Art and Design

The new Digital Art and Design mod focuses on the fundamentals of digital art techniques while using the design process to create physical models . Each project emphasizes the combination of essential artistic practices, the design process, technical drawing and the critical thinking and student collaboration necessary in today's world. Students use computer applied programs including photoshop and CAD to plan and illustrate their projects and then build a final model using supplemental materials and the 3D pens provided by a recent NPEF grant. The mod provides students an exposure to many of the skills they will need for the high school design classes.
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Students in the redesigned Robotics mod have been using the engineering design process and their programming skills to solve a variety of design challenges involving the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot. Using block programming on both the iPads and desktops, students started with simple commands and gradually built their understanding of programming skills. They progressed towards creating a robot that could be used in either search and rescue operations or space exploration.
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Bond Referendum Passes

Coming this summer.....
  • new STEM rooms
  • new classrooms and updated HS Media Center
  • new infrastructure
  • added security
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Biomedical Engineering

Students in the new NPHS Biomedical Engineering course have been using the engineering design process in the Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering unit. Students choose an organ of the body, used calipers and clay to create a 3D mold of the organ, and then used 3D pens (provided by a recent NPEF grant) to create a scaffold of their own artificial organ.

Students then ‘seeded’ their scaffolds with ‘stem cell material’ and compared their methods to that used by biomedical engineers at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Next up.......designing an artificial heart.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW)

Introduction to Engineering (IED)

Students in IED began the year collaborating on the engineering design process to create a cable car device using balloons, tubes, and tape. Students then worked on developing their technical drawing skills, by working on isometrics, obliques, and perspective drawings of industrial designs.

Students are now applying new creative thinking techniques and team collaboration to design a mobile app. During all the activities, students are responsible for setting up and maintaining an engineering notebook and an online portfolio of their projects .

Students also took a tour of Bell Labs, where they meet with the engineers and visited the laboratories where many important technological advances were invented. The tour gave students a great insight into how STEM fields are affecting our future way of life.

Principles of Engineering (POE)

Students in POE course have been studying mechanisms and their applications to the world of engineering. They have been collaborating to solve a variety of engineering design problems using the VEX Robotics kits and to keep an engineering notebook that details the process. As part of the career component of the course, students have also reached out to the community to interview local engineers.

Students are now investigating sources and transmission of energy and their applications to real-world engineering problems.

This summer, high school teachers Mr. McGeechan and Mrs. Moser attended two weeks of intensive training focused on the PLTW methodology and its use in teaching the IED and POE courses. Feedback so far from students, teachers and administrators has been very positive. See the video below for an insight into the POE course.

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