On Saturday, March 25, the Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Newark, in collaboration with ProjectEngin, will host the first annual STEM EXPO at the Archdiocesan Youth Retreat Center located at 499 Belgrove Drive in Kearny, New Jersey.
Projects from hundreds of Catholic elementary school students from 31 elementary schools in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties will be on display.
These projects are the result of a year-long initiative between the Archdiocese of Newark and ProjectEngin in which students using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) tackle real-world issues based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Members of the media are welcome to attend this exciting educational event from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
ProjectEngin and the Archdiocese of Newark began their collaboration on the STEM Fair Program in May 2016. Over the past several months, ProjectEngin-led workshops brought educators from 31 schools together, with additional support from representatives from ProjectEngin through onsite visits and sessions via Skype and Slack.
During these workshops and sessions educators worked collaboratively with colleagues in other schools to reimagine what has been a traditional approach to science projects. Using the Engineering Design Process, the educators learned skills to help guide students as they designed solutions to real world challenges. They also explored innovative ways to use technology, empathy, and scientific knowledge to better our world. They then brought this knowledge back to their individual schools where students used the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as the basis for their projects.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals were established by the United Nations in 2015 as part of a new sustainable development agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
Barbara Dolan, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Assessment and Instruction for the Archdiocese of Newark, commented on the STEM journey of the schools, stating: “It has been amazing to watch the Archdiocesan STEM Expo Program take shape over the past six months. The willingness of the participating schools to embrace the process has been very impressive. As I visited the school-level STEM Fairs and listened to the students present their projects, I became aware of the many learning outcomes represented in those projects. In addition to science, technology, engineering and math principles and applications, the students’ projects reflect global awareness, collaboration, critical thinking, community service, communication, research skills and perseverance. Quite a few students spoke about how rewarding it was to design something that is intended to improve life for others.”
Ann Kaiser, CEO of ProjectEngin, echoed Ms. Dolan’s words, stating: “The core mission of our work at ProjectEngin is to help young people connect what they learn now to the future that they can create. The STEM Expo program is based on empathy, engagement, and empowerment. Students focus on engineering solutions to global challenges in one place, on one project at a time. The program provides students with the skills needed to tackle a large issue and to work creatively and collaboratively. They are asked to go beyond their walls in terms of understanding the end-user and to think out-of-the-box in order to develop a solution. The enthusiasm, optimism, engagement, and overall ownership that we saw at various school STEM Fairs provided proof that this has truly been an impactful learning experience for all of these young people.”
STEM has really inspired the students at St. Leo School in Elmwood Park. “STEM has truly changed the way students learn, by changing the way students think and perceive the world around them. By allowing the students to work in independent small groups, STEM truly becomes a process for the students by the students” said Mr. James Falletti, a St. Leo’s teacher and STEM coordinator.
The students at St. Leo’s are as excited about STEM as are their teachers. Victoria Karcz, an 8th grader, enthusiastically commented: “STEM was a great way to enforce student development. It expanded our knowledge on the many problems that need to be solved with the help of innovative, young minds. This was definitely a great experience, and an astonishing way to shape the future."
Lucy Sierra, a St. Leo’s 6th grader, said: "Stem is awesome because it helps me show my creativity, and helps solve real world problems.”
Aside from the student projects that will be on display, the event will feature Karishma Bhagani, a young woman dedicated to meeting the challenges of providing clean water in her native Kenya. She will bring examples of her award-winning technology, Matone di Chiwit. Additionally, she will share her real life journey from a STEM fair project to an actual product that is currently in use to help others. Ms. Bhagani will be speaking starting at 11:45 am.
Ms. Dolan and representatives of ProjectEngin, the STEM education consulting firm that developed the model and supporting materials for the Archdiocese of Newark STEM Fair program, will be available for questions, along with the teachers who led their students on this amazing journey.
The Archdiocese of Newark has 95 schools educating children grades preK-12 in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties. The Office of the Superintendent of Schools is committed to the promotion, preservation and growth of all Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese. It strives for the development of programs of educational excellence which convey the message of Christ and prepare students for life. For additional information, contact Laura Cristiano, Director of Catholic School Marketing, at 973-497-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 2014, ProjectEngin has worked with hundreds of educators nationally and internationally. With a staff of former and current engineers and teachers, ProjectEngin’s mission is simple -- highlight Engineering as the connecting word in STEM. They believe that learning happens by doing. Engineering brings action to STEM classrooms. ProjectEngin designs projects and curriculum to tap into and leverage the wide range of knowledge, talent, and skills present in every school. They take STEM education to the next level, with a focus on Engineering as a way to educate the future problem-solvers of the 21st century. In addition to the STEM Expo program, ProjectEngin conducts workshops for schools and districts with topics ranging from what it means to be a STEM school, to the logistics of using Engineering Design Projects in the classroom. Their custom K-12 curriculum projects include work in sustainability, material science, biomimicry, and a wide range of Engineering topics. The CEO of ProjectEngin, Ann Kaiser, is a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher and Speaker/Presenter at national and international conferences as well as a guest on several national radio shows. Ann and her staff truly believe that teachers engineer the future, every day in every classroom.