BRISTOL BOROUGH >> "Teachers, who love teaching, teach children to love learning." - Robert John Meehan

STEAM has become a buzz term in an interdisciplinary approach to education lately. Many researchers and STEAM experts advocate for STEAM exposure very early in a child's educational career, preparing students for the fast-growing fields of the academic disciplines science, technology, engineering, and math [STEM], integrated with the arts and computer science [CS].

The Bristol Borough Synder- Girotti STEAM Warriors stepped up to the Bucks County Intermediate Unit STEM Design Challenge at the Bucks County Regional Competition last Friday, March 6, 2020 where over 250 Bucks County students from 8 school districts participated. Student teams, grouped by grades 4-5 and 6-8, were given this year’s specific design challenge. The winners of each grade level competition will advance on to the Pennsylvania state competition.

March 6, 2020 was THEIR day: Elementary [grades 4-5] STEM Design Challenge.

Team #50- [Leo Olmeda, Gianiela Arriaga, Ronan Anderson and Chloe Birch] provided a journal documenting their concepts and plans, along with a final design blueprint of their proposed solution.

Connecting educational experiences to real-life opportunities is an effective way to get students excited about what they’re learning. They were nominated for 2 out of the 6 awards [Best Teamwork and Most Creative Design], and the STEAM Warriors team came home with the award for Best Teamwork out of 65 competing school teams.

Ronan was tasked with leading the K’NEX STEAM competition team and they successfully exhibited their united, determined design to conserve energy, lower pollution and save their lungs implementing a solar model and electric cars. Their well coordinated researching, designing, creating and developing ventures were a BIG win!

Grounded in relationships, they and their innovative, creative and outstanding teachers, Gifted Enrichment teacher Mrs. Lori Carosi Helkowski, also a member of the steering committee for gifted enrichment, and teacher co-captains, Mrs. Angela O'Brien and Mrs. Heather Anderson worked tirelessly, putting their brains to a grueling test so this Gifted Enrichment STEAM team could make their engineering vision become reality.

Former teacher/ Title 1 Federal Program coordinator Mary L. [Younglove] Gesualdi served as judge for other teams not in the BBSD. These professionals clearly engaged the students and inspired them to feel passionate and motivated.

Former Chemistry and Biology teacher and principal, Dr. Rose Minniti,Ed. D, Bristol Borough’s new superintendent, who succeeded BBSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Francis “Tom” Shaffer, Ed. D, secured a $35,000 education development grant for high-quality STEM and computer science education through the PAsmart initiative successfully launched by Governor Thomas Westerman “Tom” Wolf.

By receiving this grant, the school has the opportunity to introduce and expand computer science programming and to provide educators with training and professional development to teach CS.

Dr. Minniti previously was superintendent at Valley View, which has 2,458 students in four schools, served as the principal at West Scranton High School and then as director of mathematics and science in the Abington Heights School District in Lackawanna County. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and superintendent certificate from Wilkes University, a master’s degree in affective education from East Stroudsburg University and a bachelor’s degree in biology [minor in education] from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Bristol Borough school family. I believe that the school system is the heart of the community.” She knows that “kids get excited about active learning” and this is most vital to the generation of new ideas, flexibility, and critical thinking.

Dr. Minniti and her pharmacist husband, Anthony are both University of the Sciences graduates and the proud parents of 5 children.

“I believe the Bristol Borough School District possesses all the fundamentals that are central to achieving great success and look forward to involving all community stakeholders in making our district the best it can be. This is a strong and upcoming town. I love it here!”

On January 17, 2020, Governor Wolf announced that $5.7 million in PAsmart Targeted Grants, one component of the governor's innovative PAsmart initiative, would be distributed to 163 local education agencies, including more than 477 schools, across Pennsylvania to expand computer science classes and teacher training.

“Pennsylvania is a national leader for offering innovative computer science and STEM learning, which is critical to ensuring that students are college, career, and community ready when they graduate,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera.

These grants help introduce and expand computer science programming and they were awarded to schools with limited to no computer science [CS] offerings.

"My administration will be dedicated to three simple goals: Jobs that pay. Schools that teach. And government that works – one that is worthy of our trust. That is what a Wolf Administration is going to be all about”, from the Action Plan of Governor Tom Wolf, PA’s 47th governor.

Why is STEM Education So Important? For one- it pervades every part of our lives and STEM education is critical to help the United States remain a world leader.

According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators.

Programs outside of school can help students to see that STEM is more than a class to finish.

Utterly fascinating Mihi Maker sessions for grades 3rd through 6th will take place throughout March, and then again in May at The Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library on 680 Radliffe Street. The K-2 sessions will be held at the Snyder - Girotti Elementary School.

A makerspace is a collaborative, inviting work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools. These sessions provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence.

Makerspaces promote asking questions and provide creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering and tinkering. Students are the ones directing the action. They learn and retain more concepts through inquiry-based education.

Early childhood education is clearly one of the most effective interventions that can be made in the lives of our children. The future depends on the development of a highly skilled workforce, prepared and able to compete in the global economy, especially in the fast-growing fields of STEM and computer science.

Once a child is empowered with the knowledge of how to learn and a passion for learning, they can do anything. It is a privilege to witness this dedication to our future generations.

BBSD is STEAM Powered!

Snyder-Girotti Elementary School is located at 450 Beaver Street, Bristol Borough 19007. For information, call 215.781.1020 or visit https://www.bbsd.org

Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com

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