Building on 'Hour of Code' with First Annual STEM Night
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Code Night — part of the worldwide effort initiated five years ago by the non-profit Code.org to show that anyone can learn the basics of computer coding. With students now coding on every grade level, the District reimagined the event and took a step forward by providing a host of other STEM activities to broaden students’ knowledge.
“Our goal is clearly to use technology to enhance instruction and that’s really what we are showing — that science, technology, engineering and math are all interrelated and connected,” said Ms. Janna Ostroff, K-12 Supervisor for Science and Technology for Instruction. “Through all of these challenges we are bringing the community together to celebrate science, coding, engineering, robotics and so many of the efforts that the Board of Education and the community has supported throughout the years so we are hoping that it will grow and continue.”
Ms. Ostroff and the technology teachers worked collaboratively to research and develop a new format for the evening that was fun and engaging for the community. As students arrived with their families, they were given a passport with a map displaying the setup of activities. Students received a stamp on their passport for each challenge they completed, and two stamps for completing the coding challenges. After collecting 10 stamps they were able to choose a small prize.
Following the map, they went from the cafeteria, to two gyms to the computer lab and the Maker Space room to make mini-catapults and potato launchers, take part in laser challenges with light, complete tangrams (colorful geometric puzzles), and make floating tin foil boats. They explored the science of temperature with ice and heat, analyzed flying paper cones, tackled coding challenges with Dot and Dash robots, First Lego League robots and Lego We Do 2.0, and participated in an Hour of Code by logging into coding activities designed by age and skill level. (A separate, well-attended Hour of Code was also held at Oyster Bay High School, Dec. 4, for grades 7-12 and was led by the Computer Coding Club advised by computer science teacher Ms. Suprabha Malhar-Jain.)
Through special presentations by Mad Science, students enjoyed the science behind making slime out of glue, food coloring, glycerin and sodium borate, and witnessing the chemical reactions that produced smoking beakers, bubbling flasks, and balls of soap bubbles that were playfully projected into the audience through a tube.
“Most excitingly, our high school students from our science and math honor societies and our computer science students led these activities for our younger students,” Ms. Ostroff added. “Special thanks go out to these students as well as our science, technology, engineering and math staff members Ms. Amy Michalopoulus, Ms. Marissa Scotto, Ms. Regina D’Orio, Ms. Maria Malzone, Ms. Marissa Scotto, Ms. Patricia Murray, Mr. Andrew Schlendorf, Mr. Kevin Cotter, Mr. Keith Harrison, Ms. Amy Hallock, Ms. Diane Conway, Ms. Suprabha Malhar-Jain and Ms. Erica Siegman for making this event a success. We hope our younger students had a great time learning with their families.”
Ms. Erin Wilder, who came with her third- and sixth-grade sons Benjamin and Jack, said, “With parents growing up not knowing a STEM curriculum, this is a great way to get parents learning alongside their children.”
Ms. Leslie Arnedos, the District’s PTA Council President who brought her fifth-grade son, Alex, to the event, said, “My son wasn’t sure about coming at first but now he is having the time of his life. It’s great to see what they are learning and how the older students are helping the younger students.”
Fifth grader Gavin Mayer, who is new to Vernon School, said his favorite part was the chemical reactions displayed in the Mad Science show. Fifth graders Talene Mastacciuola, Sophia Gerbosi and Lillian Robson, called the even “really fun and cool.”
“I loved doing all the activities,” Talene said.
“I liked that the older kids helped us and that we learned things that can help us do better on tests and in school,” Lillian added. “I would definitely come again if they do it next year.”
Students are amazed at the chemical reactions demonstrated by Mad Science that caused beakers to smoke and foam.
Students are challenged to program Dot and Dash robots to move around a series of cones.
Computer Science teacher Ms. Suprabha Malhar-Jain assists students in the computer coding activities featured in the Hour of Code.
Oyster Bay High School junior Emily Wiesenfeld assists students in programming First Lego League robotics challenges.
Students gain a better understanding of temperature at the "Keep it Cool" challenge.
Students enjoy learning the science behind making slime.
A student hands in a stamped passport to Ms. Janna Ostroff, K-12 Supervisor for Science and Technology for Instruction.