Student investigations at St. Leo in Elmwood Park

Student investigations at St. Leo in Elmwood Park.

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 representing 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 that has students using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to 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 Arcproject-engin-logohdiocese of Newark began their collaboration on the STEM Fair Program in May 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.

Top students at Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy in Elizabeth at local STEM fair with Dr. Margaret Dames, Superintendent of Schools

Students at Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy in Elizabeth at local STEM fair with Dr. Margaret Dames, Superintendent of Schools.

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.

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Students at local STEM Fair at St. Augustine, Union City.

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 the 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.”

All students participated in an art component. Student from St. Leo in Elmwood Park makes his mark.

All students participated in an art component. Student from St. Leo in Elmwood Park makes his mark.

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 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.”

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 cristila@rcan.org
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