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Invitation to Cover: Archdiocese of Newark Schools Office and ProjectEngin STEM EXPO 2018

April 4, 2018

WHAT: Archdiocese of Newark STEM EXPO

WHEN: Saturday, April 14, 2018  Private tours for media and invited guests: 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Open to the public: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Archdiocesan Youth Retreat Center, 499 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, NJ 07032

ABOUT THE EVENT - On Saturday, April 14, the Office of Schools of the Archdiocese of Newark, in collaboration with ProjectEngin, will host the second annual STEM EXPO at the Archdiocesan Youth Retreat Center in Kearny, New Jersey. Projects by hundreds of Catholic elementary school students from 29 elementary schools in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties on display are the result of a year-long initiative between the Archdiocese of Newark and ProjectEngin that engages students -- using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) -- to tackle real-world issues based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and to share their research and ideas with a wider audience.

ProjectEngin and the Archdiocese of Newark began their collaboration on the STEM Fair Program in 2016.  Over the past several months, ProjectEngin led workshops that brought educators from 31 schools together. Additionally, representatives from ProjectEngin followed up with these educators by paying onsite visits and providing support whenever questions arose via Skype and Slack. During these workshops, educators worked collaboratively with colleagues in other schools to reimagine what has been a traditional approach to science projects. These educators explored using the Engineering Design Process to guide students as they designed solutions to real world challenges using Science, Technology, and Math. Through these workshops, educators explored innovative ways that technology, empathy, and scientific knowledge can be used 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 are a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity that were established by the United Nations in 2015 as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. 

Barbara Dolan, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for the Archdiocese of Newark, commented on the STEM Fair Program.  “The willingness of the participating schools to embrace the process has been very impressive. As I visit the school-level STEM Fairs and listen to students explain their projects, I am aware of the many learning outcomes represented in those projects.  In addition to science, technology, engineering, and math, the projects reflect global awareness, collaboration, critical thinking, community service, communication, research skills and perseverance.  Students speak about how rewarding it is to plan and build something that is designed to improve life for others. They are enthusiastic and feel empowered to make a difference.”

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 one place, 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 the classroom 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 inspired the students at  St. Michael School in Union, “Given today's ever-changing world, those concepts are invaluable to any student's advancement as they progress not only through their middle school years, but high school and hopefully beyond. Plus, the students absolutely love not only the activities but also the choice and independence they have in implementing those activities. It's changed the way I'll teach forever.” said Dr. Patrick Aiello, a St. Michael’s teacher and STEM coordinator.

Casey Roberts, a 7th grader from Academy Of Our Lady in Glen Rock, another school participating in this year’s EXPO, shared she has “learned to work collaboratively to address real-world problems and find little ways to provide solutions and joy to those it will benefit.”

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 93 elementary and high schools of the Archdiocese of Newark educate children in 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 that convey the message of Christ and prepare students for life. For additional information, contact Ryan Michelson, Director of School Advancement at 732-754-2693 or michelry@rcan.org.