NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- For about 40 students from four City School District of New Rochelle elementary schools, summer is time to turn on the STEAM - and they're loving it.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade from Columbus, Jefferson and Trinity elementary schools and the Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center have been making notes on objects found in nature, building catapults and balances, and enjoying a host of other activities in a five-week STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Summer Academy. Marrying science and engineering with literature, the lessons follow national Next Generation Science Standards, creating a positive, enjoyable educational experience with hands-on learning.
"We're having fun while we're learning," said Adamaris Flores, who will enter fourth grade at Columbus in September.
The classes take place at Trinity. The younger students, kindergarten to second grade, start their lessons with a book. As early as first grade, they are researching topics on the internet.
"We start with a book, and from the book, we ask questions, then pursue the answers," said teacher Ann Marie Manganiello. "Through these activities, we see how easily math and science can be married with the literacy program."
Students noted the size, color, weight and other properties of objects they found on a nature walk. They also peered through magnifying glasses to discover characteristics of small objects that may have always been right under their noses, as when Araf Islam noticed a tiny punctuation mark - a period - on the surface of a penny.
"You magnify things and you find stuff that you didn't know," said Islam, who will be a Jefferson third-grader in September.
In Diane Delgado's class, students in grades 3 through 5 begin each day with an engineering challenge. They may research wind energy or build catapults from plastic spoons and slats of wood. They tested the catapults by launching mini-marshmallows down the hall. Penelope Conway, an incoming fourth-grader at Jefferson, set the record at 5 feet, 3 inches.
"I just love making stuff - thinking about it, and then creating it," she said.