PHOTO: Eighth graders, left to right, Ainsley Lang of Shrewsbury, Orianna Nolan of Highlands and Jack Raymond of Fair Haven display 3D printed models of water park rides designed by their class.

RUMSON, NJ –Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) programs at Holy Cross School are a collaborative effort among math, science and technology teachers and are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

Two fully equipped science labs and state of the art technology ensure Holy Cross teachers have the tools necessary to create innovative projects and assessments for their classes. Smart Boards and individual student laptops in both science labs provide real-time student access to interactive online curriculums. A 3-D printer and Virtual Reality lab further contribute to an immersive and engaging learning environment.

In a recent Grade 8 Advanced Math project, Mrs. Kathy Chadwick asked students to create a blueprint design of a water amusement park. They had to identify each water park attraction using ordered pairs, then find the slope and midpoint, calculate the distance, write a linear equation and find the point of intersection between each attraction. When this was completed, the students made 3-D printed models of their water park rides. When asked what she most enjoyed about the water park project, Orianna Nolan stated, “We were able to learn new formulas, such as the midpoint formula, and we used them to construct a 3D model.” Her group’s water park included three slides, a whirlpool, a toddler play area and a lazy river, in addition to concession stands, all of which were plotted for slope and distance.

In Mrs. Mary DeBiasi’s Grade 5 Science class, students enjoyed the lab entitled, “What is the Identity of the Mystery Substance?” They were given an unknown substance (citric acid) to identify based on its properties. They determined the unknown's solubility and compared their results to a table of known solubility for five substances. Students evaporated the unknown solution and compared their crystals to photographic images to confirm their identification of the substance. In this lab, students learned to formulate scientific questions, develop and use models, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, apply mathematics and construct explanations for their results.

PHOTO: Fifth graders Marcus Blasucci of Interlaken (left) and Caden Anderson of Union Beach conduct their solubility experiment.

Taking the STEM process one step further, Grade 6 students recently completed their ecology projects with the ultimate goal of peer education. After teaching the science of energy transfer in trophic pyramids, and the biomagnification of pollution in food webs within them, Mrs. Michelle Tomaino asked her students to utilize the Google Classroom environment on their laptops to graphically design a trophic pyramid, share ideas and collaborate with their group members. Students applied mathematics to track energy flow, calculate the percent loss of energy, analyze data and determine the relationship between trophic level and the percentage of energy available to various organisms in a food chain.
Groups then engineered models of their chosen ecosystems designed to engage 5 to 7 year olds. The measurable goal was to teach their peers in Preschool and Kindergarten the terms biotic, abiotic and energy transfer and dynamics of energy flow through a trophic pyramid. To assess the younger students’ learning, sixth graders gave them a string to track the flow of energy in the trophic pyramind in their ecosystem model from the sun to the top carnivores. The experience was a hit for all ages!