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From the Classroom, Thomas Prince School Sixth-Graders

Find Solutions to World Problems

as Part of National eCybermission Program

 

PRINCETON – March 2016 – Sixth-grade students at the Thomas Prince School are creating innovative solutions to problems such as water desalination and carbon dioxide “busting” as part of the school’s STEAM curriculum and the national eCybermission program.

 

Since November, students have teamed up to take on problems within a community – ranging from local issues to national and international problems – by brainstorming possible solutions and building a prototype of their solution. The eCybermission program teaches teamwork, design, and presenting a final prototype.

 

“The students seem to love working on teams,” said Amanda Martinez, who along with fellow sixth-grade teacher Kayla Spellane guided students through the process. “They were able to use their personal strengths, and bounce ideas off of each other throughout the entire process. It certainly took a great deal of cooperation and collaboration skills, but offered real-world practice and opportunities to have ‘teachable moments’ in those areas.”

 

Students had until Feb. 29 to complete the project, and had to fulfill a number of steps to make sure they were on track and moving toward a workable solution to the problem they identified.

 

First students created teams of three or four people, chose a team name, and worked on identifying characteristics of an effective team, and then identified their focus (environment, robotics or alternative energy) to work on the engineering design process.

Teams then identified their problem and created a concept map to understand the depth of the problem.

 

After considerable research, students had to brainstorm possible ideas, choose the best idea, and then figure out the best materials for the design and build a prototype along with a 2-D diagram. The prototypes were tested when possible, and projects were redesigned when necessary.

 

Once the construction was completed, students then needed to tackle the most critical part of the competition – communicating their steps and methods. They needed to deliver clear and effective written submissions to eCybermission judges, and also delivered presentations during a science fair-style presentation to seventh- and eighth-graders, during an event on March 1.

 

eCybermission is an initiative offered by the Army Educational Outreach Program, challenging students to explore how science, technology, engineering and math work in their world. The web-based competition is for teams in grades six-nine, and teams compete for station, regional and national awards.

 

About Thomas Prince STEAM Program:

In 2013, Thomas Prince School, a public K – 8 school in Princeton, MA began conversion to a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics)-based approach to education. STEAM-based learning fosters skills critical to success in the 21st Century, coupling logic and critical thinking with creativity and ingenuity, leading to innovation.  The school is implementing the STEAM approach with inventive and integrated multi-disciplinary hands-on learning happening in classrooms daily.  The TPS STEAM approach encourages students to discover and delve more deeply into their interests, and to find a place for themselves in the world, both in pursuit of careers and other endeavors.

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PHOTO CUTLINE INFORMATION:

ROBOT:

Faye Masterman, Laurel Mitchell, Sydney Zeena, and Olivian Darmanin, sixth-graders at the Thomas Prince School, present their robot designed to support struggling students in the classroom as part of the national eCybermission contest. Sixth-graders at Thomas Prince created teams to tackle problems facing their communities, the nation and the world as part of the contest.

OCEAN TRASH:

Anna White, Alicia Garofoli, Avery Newell, and Emerson DiSalle, sixth-graders at the Thomas Prince School, present their Ocean Trash Bubble solution designed to stop ocean pollution as part of the national eCybermission contest. Sixth-graders at Thomas Prince created teams to tackle problems facing their communities, the nation and the world as part of the contest.

CARBON DIOXIDE:

Sixth-grade students at the Thomas Prince School, including Luke Patton, David Deskins and Jake Dumas, designed an innovative, safer form of transportation that does not emit carbon dioxide as part of the national eCybermission contest. Their solution will also make trains run faster and more efficiently with the use of magnets. Sixth-graders at Thomas Prince created teams to tackle problems facing their communities, the nation and the world as part of the contest.

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STEAM Program Receives Award for Excellence

posted May 15, 2015, 10:39 AM by Andrew Hacket

 

PRINCETON, MA, May 14, 2015. The Thomas Prince School (TPS) Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Program was awarded top honors and $400 this week as recipient of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education.

 

EEA annually collaborates with the Secretary's Advisory Group on Energy and Environmental Education (SAGEE) and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) to recognize K-12 schools and teachers across the Commonwealth for their outstanding efforts in furthering energy and environmental education initiatives at their schools.

 

With this award to TPS’ STEAM Program, EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton recognized TPS’ innovative approach to education under its STEAM-based curriculum.  TPS projects that helped garner the award were numerous and included: student design and construction of wind-powered vehicles; studies in ocean pollution; a student-created web-based nature trail guide; a student-planted and student-harvested organic garden; and a partnership in local watershed education with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

 

 “On behalf of the TPS STEAM Program and all of our partners, we are honored to receive the Secretary’s Award for Excellence,” stated Andrew Hacket, Chair of the TPS STEAM Advisory Board and a second grade teacher at TPS. “Whether our students are designing plant seed dispersal devices, architecting solutions for protecting homes from wind and water damage, or constructing solar ovens, the STEAM philosophy runs cross-curricular and deep at TPS. It's gratifying for all to see it recognized by the Secretary’s prestigious award.”

 

TPS will showcase its STEAM program at its 1st annual STEAM Expo to be held from 4:30–7:00 pm on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at TPS. Community members & media are invited to attend.

 


 

Photograph from May 11, 2015 EEA Secretary’s Award ceremony at the Massachusetts State House Great Hall.  Among those pictured are TPS Teacher Will Candler, SAGEE Chair Robin Organ, SecretaryBeaton, DOER Commissioner Judith Judson, and TPS Student Representatives

 

TPS Deepens Commitment to STEAM with Advisory Board

posted May 15, 2015, 10:35 AM by Andrew Hacket

 

PRINCETON, MA, April 22, 2015. The Thomas Prince School (TPS) is pleased to announce the formation and early progress of the TPS Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Advisory Board.

 

Formed to accelerate TPS’ conversion to a STEAM school, the Advisory Board is comprised of a diverse group of teachers, parents and partners. Board members include individuals with deep experience in each of the STEAM disciplines, ranging from a neonatologist (S) to a technology entrepreneur (T) to an industrial engineer (E) to a singer (A) to a math (M) teacher.  Members hail from not only Princeton, but also Worcester, Sterling, Fitchburg, Hubbardston and Gardner and other surrounding towns.

 

“We’re fortunate to have assembled such a talented group of individuals to drive new STEAM initiatives that complement our ongoing internal efforts,” Mary Cringan, TPS principal commented. “The teacher members represent the full K-8 range and all curriculum areas, while the parent ranks include a costume designer, a marine biologist, an environmental lawyer and a linguist.”

 

Early objectives for the Board include the design and creation of two new, dedicated “Discovery Labs” at TPS, one for science and another for fabrication. Additionally, the Board plans to bring new resources to the STEAM program through grants, donations, and partnerships. Two such partnerships were recently announced with Mass Audubon and Quinsigamond Community College, with partner representatives also participating on the Board.  The Board will showcase these partnerships and TPS’ many STEAM initiatives at the first annual TPS STEAM Expo on May 21, 2015.

 

“Our Board members’ shared passion for STEAM at TPS, and the strong support from TPS and District administration is a powerful combination,” says Andrew Hacket, the chair of the TPS STEAM Advisory Board and a second grade teacher at TPS. “I’m confident our Board’s early successes represent only a sampling of what is yet to come for STEAM and our students at TPS.”

 

posted May 15, 2015, 8:46 AM by Andrew Hacket   [ updated May 15, 2015, 8:48 AM ]

 

 

Princeton school gets Audubon grant, QCC partnership

posted Apr 21, 2015, 10:02 PM by Andrew Hacket   [ updated Apr 22, 2015, 1:32 PM ]

 

 

National Engineers Week

posted Apr 21, 2015, 9:58 PM by Andrew Hacket   [ updated Apr 22, 2015, 1:37 PM ]

 

 

AweSTEM 2015

posted Mar 23, 2015, 8:18 AM by Andrew Hacket   [ updated Apr 22, 2015, 1:39 PM ]

 

Educators Share Innovative Ways to Help Students Learn STEM

• What do the gingerbread man, red cabbage, and abstract art have in common? They are all tools that can be used to help K–12 students learn science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts—according to presenters at the 2015 AweSTEM conference for educators on March 16.


Presenter Andrew Hacket, a teacher at the Thomas Prince School in Princeton, makes a point.

Run by the STEM Education Center at WPI, AweSTEM celebrates the accomplishments of STEM teachers and provides opportunities for them to network and learn about innovative ideas in education. More than 200 K–12 teachers and administrators attended this year’s event.

The theme for AweSTEM 2015, “What best engages students in STEM fields,” focused on how teachers can best bring STEM subjects to life and make meaningful connections to engage students.

Attendees were able to visit with 20 presenters spread out across WPI’s Alden Memorial Hall. Presentations showcased activities and programs for subject-specific classes as well as ways to integrate STEM into other subjects in elementary, middle, and high school.

Many presenters were teachers themselves who demonstrated and discussed successful lessons from their classes.

Christina Kristoff and Andrew Hacket, second grade teachers at Thomas Prince School in Princeton, shared a lesson that they use to introduce elementary school children to engineering concepts utilizing the Gingerbread Man fairytale.

Kristin Goppel, associate director of summer programs at WPI, speaks with a visiting teacher.

“After we read the story, students design a boat to help the gingerbread man cross the river,” says Kristoff. “They draw it on paper and then build it from materials like bottles and paper plates—then we test it out in a tub of water to see if it floats.”

Students also design a bridge for the gingerbread man to cross using toothpicks and gumdrops.

“The students really get into the activity, and what’s interesting is that those who usually struggle tend to shine on this project,” says Kristoff.

Jackie Bonneau, a science teacher at the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science at WPI, gave hands-on demonstrations of exercises she uses to engage middle and high school students in chemistry and physics at home. She showed how students can create board games using the periodic table of elements, find examples of faulty physics in movies, and design their own pH test kits using common household substances, like red cabbage and spices.

Paul Owusu Mensah, a Worcester Public Schools teacher, speaks with Erin Da Selvaneto, a teacher at the Center Elementary School in Stow.

“Often students just see science as hard, but these activities make scientific topics exciting and engage the students by letting them have fun,” says Bonneau.

Another project that has received glowing approval from students was presented by Susan Russo, a mathematics teacher at Holy Name Junior/Senior High School. Russo’s students use GeoGebra, a free mathematical modeling program, to design moving works of graphical art based on algebraic functions.

“The students really engage with the assignment and with each other. They all want to see what everyone else has created,” says Russo. “Students from other classes who come into the room afterwards are also curious and ask when they will have the chance to make the designs!”

Presenters and attendees filled Alden Hall.

Additional activities featured at the conference ranged from building a model Spanish-style home using scale measurements to designing a portable water purification device, and from programming LEGO robots to finding solutions to geographical challenges in Asian countries.

Attendees were also able to get their pictures taken with WPI mascot Gompei and learn about the many opportunities and resources available for teachers through WPI, including professional development workshops, master’s degrees for educators, research experiences, classroom tools, and programs for student groups.

Martha Cyr, director of the STEM Center, occasionally asks teachers to stop and share ideas with each other, as well.

“I love hearing about everyone’s experiences and learning about their inventive projects,” says Cyr. “We’re honored to be able to celebrate the great work that these teachers have done.”

BY JENNIFER WYGLINSKI