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December 8, 2018 - 2:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, bergen, gillam grant, LEGO, robotics, stem, education.

The Bionic Bees -- a team of third- through sixth-graders from the Gillam Grant Community Center -- won the Project Award at the Finger Lakes FIRST Lego League regional qualifier robotics competition.

On Saturday, Nov. 17 the Bionic Bees competed at The Integrated arts and Technology high school in Rochester against other area teams. This year’s theme for the competition was "Into Orbit." Teams had to think of a solution to a physical or emotional problem that astronauts face when in space for long periods of time.

The team’s solution was to use virtual reality to give astronauts pieces of home through sights, sounds and smells.

They designed Bionic Binoculars, which can give you the pleasant smells of their home. The motion-detecting gloves or controllers would set off a smell when placed near the accompanying visual. Astronauts could wear a vest with the binoculars that could adjust temperature depending on the setting like a fireplace for example. Through the viewer they could see and hear the familiar sights and sounds of home.

The team modeled their idea from the Oculus brand of virtual reality products.

FIRST LEGO League gives students the chance to develop, design, build and code LEGO MINDSTORMS robots to perform autonomous “missions” on a themed playing field and design innovative solutions to a real world problem inspired by the theme.

Along their journey, students develop critical thinking and team-building skills, basic STEM applications, and even presentation skills, as they must present their solutions with a dash of creativity to judges.

They also practice the Program’s Core Values, which emphasize discovery, teamwork and good sportsmanship. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.

Based in Manchester, NH, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

The Learning Center at Gillam Grant, a not-for-profit center located in Bergen. We provide tutoring, homework help and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) enrichment classes and clubs for K-12thgrade students.

February 9, 2018 - 4:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in education, stem, news.

Press release:

Dear STEM educators and friends of STEM,

The Finger Lakes STEM Hub is pleased to announce the application for the 2018 STEM Program Awards is now OPEN! The goal of this recognition event is to honor exemplary STEM programs in our community, and to inspire others to incorporate STEM opportunities in their work with youth.

Who is Eligible? Classrooms, schools, districts, and afterschool programs from the STEM Hub’s nine-county service area: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties, that incorporate STEM education into their curriculum.

How to Apply? Complete the application on the Finger Lakes STEM Hub website: http://www.empirestem-fl.org/ Award categories are based on the NYS STEM Quality Rubric, also found on our website, and applicants self-select their program’s level of achievement in each of the 9 categories, highlighting what their program does best! Applications must be received by March 1.

When is the STEM Program Awards Event? The awards dinner reception is Wednesday, May 16th from 5-8 p.m. at the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s Riedman Gallery.

Is There a Cost to Apply or Attend? There is no cost to apply for this recognition event. Applicants receive two complimentary tickets for the dinner reception. Additional tickets can be purchased for $36 each beginning in April.

If you, or someone you know, is inspiring kids through STEM education, please apply! For questions or to learn more, visit the Finger Lakes STEM Hub’s 2018 STEM Program Awards webpage: http://www.empirestem-fl.org/

Nadia Harvieux

STEM Program Award Committee

Finger Lakes STEM Hub

June 2, 2017 - 7:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, schools, education, stem, STEAM, news, batavia.

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Press release:

John Kennedy Intermediate School has received a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant to purchase "Math and Movement" materials for The JK STEAM Program.

“We had the Math and Movement day with Suzy Koontz in April and can now purchase mats of our own to have here at John Kennedy thanks to Lowes,” said Melissa Calandra, who spearheaded John Kennedy’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Program for fourth-graders this year and will take charge of the STEAM lab for all JK students, grades 2-4, next year.

During the Math and Movement day, students moved to the mathematics lessons – emphasizing patterns, stepping out calculations, and working out concepts on large mats. They were able to practice addition, subtraction, telling time, multiplication, division, fractions, place value, and geometry – and with physical movement incorporated into the brain work, the information was a lot of fun – and better retained.

Lowe’s, which seeks to approve grants that improve learning communities, noted that, “These materials will allow for a kinesthetic, multisensory approach to teaching math that incorporates physical exercise, stretching, and cross-body movements. Using the mats, students are ‘moving to the numbers.’ ” The mats will be ordered by the end of this school year to arrive in time for use next year in the STEAM lab. 

All K-12 public schools in the United States are eligible for the Toolbox for Education program.  More information is available at www.ToolboxforEducation.com.

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May 22, 2017 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STEAM, stem, schools, education, John Kennedy School, news.

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Press release:

By all counts, the Fourth Grade Innovators STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Program that was started at Batavia’s John Kennedy Intermediate School this year is a huge success – whether being measured by student enthusiasm, teacher observation of growing skills, or meaningful partnerships with the community. It’s no surprise, then, that plans are in the works for next year, including greater expansion into the younger grades at John Kennedy.

What did come as a surprise, however, was recognition from beyond our community. The Program won the Elementary STEM (Science/ Technology/ Engineering/ Mathematics) Innovation Award from The Finger Lakes STEM Hub and was honored at a reception in early May at St. John Fisher College. The Hub is the regional arm of the Empire State STEM Learning Network -- a statewide, community‐led collaborative that works to advance STEM education.

The Finger Lakes STEM Hub covers a nine-county area (Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties) and consists of leaders from K-12 education, higher education, business, government, and community organizations who work together to advance the interdisciplinary teaching and learning of STEM disciplines with the goal of sustaining economic vitality. As part of their commitment to students, they identify and highlight exemplary STEM activities and events that are engaging, exciting, and empowering for students.

JK’s STEAM Program was recognized as being such a program.

Evolving out of a request last summer by fourth grade teacher Melissa Calandra to do some STEAM activities once a month, JK principal Paul Kesler was quick to give his approval and support.

“STEAM is so important for young students,” said Kesler, “basically because science, technology, and math are really lifelong concepts that students are going to need in whatever job that they have, but especially because so many jobs in the future are going to have a math and science emphasis. It’s important that our students gain experience now.”

To help bring the idea into fruition, they were joined by fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Sloan, ACE teacher Karen Shuskey, and librarian Katelin LaGreca.

“This team,” Kesler said, “really got the ball rolling and, as it got going, we were able to start partnering with GCEDC (Genesee County Economic Development Center) in terms of bringing local businesses in to help us and see how we can partner with them.”

In its promotion of regional economic development and growth, the GCEDC advocates for the education and skill development that students need to equip themselves for meeting that growth. Their help and support was extremely valuable to the planning and implementation of the STEAM opportunities for the JK students.

Each month, all of the fourth graders took part in the planned STEAM opportunity. Through the year, these activities helped students explore DNA and living systems, structures and design, robotics, coding/computer programming, graphic design, 3D printing, electrical circuits, math and movement, robotics in agricultural, and ecology/environmentalism. Nearly every hands-on activity was introduced to the students by a professional from the community who had expertise in that area, so the students were also introduced to an array of careers.

It was one of the community presenters who told the team about and encouraged them to apply for the STEM Hub award. Despite coming at a particularly busy time of the school year, they were so proud of the program that they wanted to make the time to enter the competitive application process.

Much to their delight, they won!

While it was very exciting to be held up as an example of fruitful partnerships with the community that help students learn about and grow in an increasingly needed skill set, it is even more exciting to contemplate the future of JK STEAM.

“For next year, we’re looking at an expansion to include third and second graders,” Kesler said. “We’re opening up a STEAM lab next year. Melissa Calandra is going to lead that, and it will allow us to offer activities to students once a week versus once a month. We’re really excited about that!”

“My hope,” he continued, “is that students will see how interesting science, technology, and math can be, and, in the long-term, that they recognize the opportunities coming available to them in the STEAM field.”

September 24, 2016 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, STEAM, stem, schools, education, news, batavia.

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Fourth-graders at John Kennedy School on Friday were introduced to the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Math) curriculum with science demonstrations, and some hands-on experiences, led by Batavia High School science teachers Nathan Korzelius (top photo) and Burton Howell. 

In these photos, Korzelius talks about the properties of lycopodium clavatum, a powder derived from a species of moss. As Korzelius demonstrated, the powder floats on water and if a person sticks his or her hand in, the powder keeps the hand dry. When the powder is concentrated near a flame, it will explode in a flash of flame and lights (side fact: lycoduium was used by early photographers as a flash powder).

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April 14, 2016 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, schools, education, stem.

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Oakfield-Alabama Central School continues to innovate around the tech-education curriculum, and today students participated in a project to build a new 3D printer for the school.

The project was part of a class taught by Patti Buczek and Missy Lee.

Photos provided by the school district.

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February 24, 2016 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, schools, education, stem.

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There is hardly a profession in America that isn't being changed profoundly by technology. From taxi drivers and plumbers to big company CEOs, the world is increasingly digital.  

The Oakfield-Alabama Central School District wants to prepare students for this new and fast-changing world by providing them with the latest technology as learning tools.

As a pilot program this year, students in fifth and sixth grade were each provided Chromebooks (based on software from Google). The computers are touchscreen and connected to cloud servers, making file sharing easy for students both at school and at home on their own devices and with teachers, who are equipped in class with giant touchscreens.

"This is a skill set you're not going to escape, no matter what career path you choose to go down, even if you're at home and your spouse works, you're still going to need these skills to be a productive member of society," said Rob Zdrojewski, the district's director of instructional technology. "You're going to need to know how to communicate electronically."

The plan for the district is to roll out the technology to all of the grade levels with the help of a grant from the state, called a Smart Schools grant.

So far, there's positive feedback from students and teachers.

"It's a lot more fun and easier, too, because you don't have to keep track of a lot of papers or anything on your Chromebooks," said fifth-grader Jose Reding.

A hot topic of debate in Silicon Valley circles is over the shortage of women in the technology field, especially as entrepreneurs. Reding, like Mckenna Johnson, are probably unaware of such controversies, but both are ready to do something about it. Both have already built their own Web sites (Reding with Weebly, and Johnson with WordPress) and both say they think they might want to run their own technology businesses someday.

"I've always loved technology," said Mckenna, whose parents own Millennium Computers in Batavia, "It's helping me do more and I can learn more." 

Mckenna's also made a contribution to her class, using her tech savvy, by setting up a group contact in Gmail so one e-mail can be sent to all the students in the class at the same time.

While Josie and Mckenna might represent the top of the learning curve, it's a pretty shallow curve, said their math teacher, Michelle Smith.

"There are definitely kids with more experience," Smith said, but when I look around the classroom, I couldn't pick out a kid who is struggling with something because they don't know how to use the technology."

While there are districts around the country which are adopting more technology in classrooms, not all of them are providing devices for each student, Zdrojewski said. The advantage of O-A's approach, he said, is that it levels the playing field. There are students who can afford the latest iPhone for their children and there are parents who can't even afford a $50 tablet from Amazon, so with the district providing Chromebooks, no student is without a device.

"The Chromebooks are a great leveler," Zdrojewski said. "All of the students can participate in social media, they can all do their assignments online, because they all have the tools to do it."

The other benefit of the new technology, Smith said, is it raises the level of engagement. Kids are excited and they stay on task more readily.

"I think it's made the kids take more ownership of their work, not only in math, but other subject areas as well," Smith said. "And with the Chrombooks, there is a lot more data available to me to help drive my individualized instruction for each student."

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