EHHS’s first-year STEM program sees success
By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
East Hartford - posted Tue., Mar. 19, 2013
More and more career-minded parents are steering their children toward one of the 25 or so Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) schools. In Connecticut, STEM schools can be elementary, middle or high school level and specialize in teaching children with an aptitude for one of the four major disciplines to eventually enter the work force well-trained and prepared for careers such as engineering, computer sciences and high level mathematics.
East Hartford High School began its own STEM program this year. This group of ninth-grade students approaches their work a little differently than their peers. “It is awesome,” said STEM science teacher Christine Lawlor-King. “It’s a very different way of teaching. It concentrates on the kids finding out things on their own and bringing it back to class to discuss and work with it,” she said. “It takes a lot more time than a notes-driven class, but I think in the end, it’s worth it.”
“I can’t get over the kids,” agreed EHHS science department head Melissa Gavarinno. “They are just taking to this program.” Gavarinno describes that these students, although they follow a similar curriculum to their peers in the school, get the opportunity to dig deeper with more hands-on work and a class called “Skills 21,” which exposes them to 21st-century skills related to technology.
Eighteen STEM students recently developed a cutting-edge project to be entered at the Connecticut STEM Expo in May. The students want to tell people about the ways in which they are inadvertently providing several breeding grounds for the voracious mosquito population and then provide an ingenious way for them to combat the problem.
The students are working on a “water stirring” machine that will be powered by the sun and will keep water from being still for too long.
“The product is called the Water Hornet,” said Lawlor-King. “It can be placed in bird baths, small pools or garden ponds - any type of water that would become stagnant,” she said.
According to the STEM students’ video proposal for the project, which is viewable on www.youtube.com, “communities and homes everywhere contribute to the growth of the mosquito population without knowing it.” In their 67-second video proposal, student-narrators go on to say that, “Every bird bath and kiddy pool creates a great place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Mosquitoes and their diseases are a global and local issue. Our water mover is an eco-friendly solution. Our product will reduce mosquitoes by stirring the water in kiddy pools by energy produced by a natural resource… the sun.”
“We are currently working on the prototype,” said Lawlor-King. “The kids are kind of playing with motors and solar panels and trying to figure out how that produces electricity.” She is crossing her fingers that they will have a working model in early April.
Gavarinno expects that these students will go into the 10th grade STEM program next year. Eventually, EHHS will have a STEM class which runs from ninth grade to 12th grade.
Already, the students were presented with the “Most Outstanding Project Proposal” by the Expo committee. Many are eager to see if they can make the Water Hornet a reality.
“To see the kids get so passionate about this project and really take ownership of it,” said Lawlor-King, “you don’t always see that.”
“If we can get it to work, we will present it at the Expo,” she added. “Part of our presentation is to persuade the judges that this could be a real product.”