hc stem turtlePHOTO: The Grade 6 Sea Turtle Group, left to right, Aidan Kane of Rumson, Aidan Donovan of Fair Haven and Matthew Giurlando of Long Branch display their sea turtle tracking device.

RUMSON, NJ – Holy Cross middle school science students recently presented their group STEM projects aimed at solving environmental issues. In their interactive Discovery Science online curriculum, Grade 6 learned about the deterioration of various animal habitats by factors unique to those habitats, including the pollution of the Navesink Watershed in their own “back yard.” Grade 8’s curriculum led them to the issue of ocean acidification, which they learned is negatively affecting many kinds of sea life. Science teacher Michelle Tomaino tasked both groups with designing devices to positively impact the ecosystem of a specific animal group and therefore improve its health and survivability. To supplement their oral presentations and building projects, students used the Prezi program on their individual touch-screen laptops to create multimedia presentations.

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PHOTO:  The Grade 6 Elephant Group, left to right, Ben Proodian of Red Bank, Hunter Wackrow of Middletown, Christopher Stypa of Rumson and Paige Jaenicke of Fair Haven in front of their poster.

Grade 6 groups were asked to engineer animal tracking devices using current technology to provide new ways of observing animals in their respective ecosystems. The Elephant Group, consisting of sixth graders Paige Jaenicke, Christopher Stypa and Benjamin Proodian, learned that elephant habitats in India are being destroyed by oil drilling and palm oil deforestation. They designed a radio collar with a thermometer to document changes in elephant body temperature relative to the area in which they are grazing. They hypothesized that changes in body temperature will show the impact on elephant health in areas of India where oil is being harvested and therefore promote legislation to decrease drilling and deforestation to protect elephant habitats.

The Sea Turtle Group, consisting of Aidan Donovan, Aidan Kane and Matthew Giurlando, designed and built a model of a sea turtle radar tracking device that would attached to the turtle’s shell. They hypothesized that tracking sea turtle migration will help find a common environmental factor that is affecting sea turtle health in various parts of the ocean and therefore promote environmental efforts to address that common factor.

hc stem 3PHOTO: The Grade 8 Neutralizers Group, left to right, Julia Boyington of Little Silver, Brian Reynolds of Eatontown, Charlotte Cade of Locust, and Caitlin Ramos of Rumson with their floating filter prototype.

Grade 8 student groups were asked to engineer a device to measure, track and/or decrease ocean acidification in order to improve the habitat of a specific underwater species. The Neutralizers, consisting of Caitlin Ramos, Charlotte Cade, Julia Boyington and Brian Reynolds, learned that coral reefs are negatively impacted by increased acidity in the ocean. They also learned that peridotite is a type of carbon dioxide-absorbing rock that lives on the coastline near healthy coral reefs and that coral is able to grow on buoys that contain peridotite. Therefore, they hypothesized that a CO2-absorbing substance released into the ocean near coral reefs may decrease acidity. They designed and built a floating filter consisting of these Co2-absorbing rocks, which would be placed in coral reef habitats to neutralize the acidic water with the basic rock. Further, the group suggested enlisting local artists to sculpt and design submergible statue gardens made of peridotite to promote the health of nearby coral reefs.

hc stem 4PHOTO:  The Grade 8 Great Barrier Reef Group, left to right, Walter (LW) Mehl of Rumson, Thomas Makin of Rumson, Siobhan Hempstead of Fair Haven and Mackenzie Hauck of Colts Neck with their 3D-printed pods.

The Great Barrier Reef Group, consisting of Siobhan Hempstead, Mackenzie Hauck, Walter (LW) Mehl and Thomas Makin, learned that the Great Barrier Reef is affected by ocean acidification from pollution carried in the nearby trade winds. They addressed this problem by designing a drone with detachable pods containing basic calcium carbonate. The group designed and built the pods on the school’s 3D printer. The drone would fly over and release the base onto already existing NOAA buoys in the waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef in order to neutralize the surrounding ocean water and improve the coral reef habitat.

Holy Cross School offers a cutting edge science curriculum and is equipped with state of the art technology to advance that curriculum. Every student in Grades 4 through 8 has a Windows 10 laptop computer and access to color laser printers. Every classroom, PreK through Grade 8, is equipped with a Smart Board. In addition to the 3D printer, the school has an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Lab for an immersive science experience for middle school students.

Holy Cross School, a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, is dedicated to educating the whole child in faith, knowledge and character in a God-centered, family atmosphere. For more information, please visit www.holycrossschoolrumson.org or call 732-842-0348 x 1129, to schedule a visit. The next open house for prospective students is Friday, April 7, 9-10:30am.

The Grade 8 Neutralizers Group, left to right, Julia Boyington of Little Silver, Brian Reynolds of Eatontown, Charlotte Cade of Locust, and Caitlin Ramos of Rumson with their floating filter prototype.