SMHS announces Sophomore STEAM Challenges
A letter from Ms. Jennifer Anthone, STEAM Coordinator:
I hope this letter finds you well and you are enjoying your final days of summer. Now that the season is coming to an end and the school year is rapidly approaching, I am pleased to share with you information on the exciting projects I will be conducting with the sophomore class as St. Mary’s STEAM Coordinator. The faculty and staff at St. Mary’s have worked very hard to develop the STEAM curriculum and cannot wait to see what our bright, talented, and innovative students will create!
For those of you who may not know, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Because of the strong prevalence of the STEAM subjects in today’s society, the incorporation of a comprehensive STEAM curriculum is not only pertinent, but also essential to helping our students succeed. The primary goal of St. Mary’s STEAM program is to increase interest and participation in STEAM and STEAM-related fields. Sophomore year is the ideal year for STEAM training, because as the students enter their junior year, they begin to have room in their schedules for more elective courses. The hope is that after participating in the STEAM challenges, enrollment in STEAM elective courses will increase and thus lead to more students pursuing STEAM as majors in college and, eventually, careers.
What does this mean for the students? This means all sophomores are required to register and successfully complete at least two STEAM Challenges. We will run eight STEAM Challenges during the year, so the students will be able to choose the projects in which they are most interested. They are, of course, welcome to participate in more than two projects. Should a student fail to successfully complete two STEAM Challenges, the student will not receive credit for their sophomore year science class. All challenges will be graded on a pass/fail basis. Criteria for grading each project will be shared at the beginning of the project and may include submission of a brief background research paper, project proposal, project design and construction, project performance, and final presentation. Furthermore, the project must meet the minimum requirements specific to that project as described in the project descriptions document, which can be found attached to this email. Bonus points will be awarded to students whose projects exceed the minimum requirements and demonstrate exemplary work. The top three projects from each challenge will be displayed in the St. Mary’s Top Engineers showcase, as well as at the end-of-the-year symposium, STEAM-FEST!
At the Sophomore Class Meeting on Monday, September 8th, I will speak to the entire class about the STEAM Challenges and the students will register for the projects in which they would like to partake.
We are extremely grateful to the John R. Oishei Foundation that awarded a very generous STEAM grant to St. Mary’s High School and the private school consortium, BISSNET, to which we belong. We have used this grant to outfit our “STEAM ZONE” in Room 205 at the school with the equipment and materials needed for the Sophomore STEAM Challenges. This includes new iPads, computers, and other equipment and supplies that will help our students grow and learn through these projects.
Thank you in advance for supporting St. Mary’s STEAM program. Should you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at the E-Mail address provided. Be sure to look for updates and highlights from the STEAM Challenges in future issues of Currents, the SMHS monthly publication that gets emailed to all families. I look forward to working together and watching our students’ brilliant minds at work!
STEAM Challeges for 2014-15
Below is a list of descriptions of each of the STEAM Challenges for the 2014-2015 school year. All sophomore students are required to participate in and successfully complete at least two STEAM Challenges. Should a student fail to successfully complete two STEAM Challenges, that student will not receive credit for their sophomore science course. All challenges will be graded on a pass/fail basis.
Criteria for grading each project will be shared at the beginning of the project and may include submission of a brief background research paper, project proposal, project design and construction, project performance, and final presentation.
Furthermore, the project must meet the minimum requirements as described in the project descriptions listed here. Bonus points will be awarded to students whose projects far exceed the minimum requirements and expectations.
The top three projects from each challenge will be displayed in the St. Mary’s Top Engineers showcase, as well as at the end of the year symposium, STEAM-FEST!
September 8th – October 16th
Students will design and build a soda bottle rocket that will carry an egg as its passenger. The rocket must reach a height of at least 20 feet and the egg must not break on the rocket’s return back to Earth. Students are free to use additional recyclable materials to construct fins to attach to the rocket and a cabin for the egg. Bonus points will be awarded to students who successfully separate the egg from the rocket before landing and rockets that obtain the highest height without breaking the egg.
October 21st – November 26th
Build A Wind Turbine:
Students will be provided with the basic components for a miniature wind turbine. Using only these and other recyclable materials, students will compete to construct the most efficient wind turbine. Efficiency will be based on height, weight, blade design, and electrical output. Bonus points will be awarded to students whose wind turbines are the smallest yet produce the greatest electrical output.
December 1st – January 5th
Game Developer Challenge:
Students will create a video game using the application, Scratch, which is a programming language and online community where users can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations, with the goal of teaching fourth grade students a math concept. Students are free to choose which math concept they would like to teach. The game must include an introduction and directions, ask at least five questions, offer helpful hints, keep score, track the user’s progress, and have a conclusion. Games will be subjected to testing in an actual fourth grade classroom and be evaluated by fourth grade students. Bonus points will be awarded to students who align the game with the fourth grade math curriculum standards and receive positive feedback from the fourth grade students.
School of Rock:
Students will design and construct at least one instrument that will be used to play a recognizable song. Students can use recyclable materials or the 3D printer to build their instruments. The instrument must be able to play a variety of notes with definite tones and frequencies. Bonus points will be awarded to students who form a band and play a song together and/or compose their own piece of music.
January 7th – February 13th
Make ‘n’ Wear:
Students will design at least three items of wearable art. They will then choose the best of their designs to construct using either the 3D printer or recyclable materials. Students will have to decide which material(s) to use to produce their wearable design in order to estimate the cost of production. Students will then provide an estimated retail price. Bonus points will be awarded to students who design the most cost efficient item.
February 23rd – March 25th
Mousetrap Car Derby:
Students will build a mousetrap car using recyclable materials and a mousetrap for power. The mousetrap must provide the thrust; the design and all other aspects of the car will be at the students’ discretion. Bonus points will be awarded to students whose cars drive in a straight line, travel the furthest distance, and achieve the greatest speed.
March 26th – April 17th
Bridging the Gap:
Students will build a Truss bridge using only balsa wood and glue. The bridge will need to have a certain clearance and length which will be specified. The bridge must also be designed to hold weight. Bonus points will be awarded to students whose bridges withstand the greatest amount of weight without breaking, bridges that hold the greatest amount of weight yet have the smallest mass, and bridges that endure earthquake-like conditions.
April 20th – May 21st
Easy Bake Solar Oven:
Students will design and construct a solar powered oven. Students have the freedom to design their ovens however they choose, but can only use recyclable materials to build their ovens. Students will then use their ovens to cook a meal. A greater description of what constitutes a meal will be provided at the start of the project. Bonus points will be awarded to students whose ovens thoroughly cook the meal to optimum temperature without the meal being undercooked or burned.
SMHS wins award at Art Alive
For the first time since 2011, St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster placed an entry into the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Art Alive Competition.
Held on Saturday, June 7, students, teachers, and friends created living representations of works of art from the Albright-Knox's Collection and beyond for the 18th annual Art Alive living art contest.
Under the leadership of Art teacher Ms. Laura James, the students of St. Mary’s chose to recreate several of Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art paintings including Ohhh … Alright, In the Car, and M-Maybe (a Girl’s Picture).
The nearly 2,000 spectators at the event voted for the People’s Choice Award; they selected the St. Mary’s entry for the Best Tableau in Grades 9-12.
Congratulations to the St. Mary’s art students Anna DiDomenico, Leah May, Kaila McKay, and Nick Samson and art teacher Ms. James for their hard work and success with their prize-winning entry.
In the collection of pop art pieces by Roy Lichtenstein are Leah May (left panel), Anna DiDomenico and Nick Samson (center panel), and Kaila McKay (right panel).
Lancaster native wins Marian Award
At its Commencement Ceremonies held on June 4 at Villa Maria College, St. Mary’s High School presented the school’s Marian Award to Lancaster native Erica Swannie.
The Marian Award, the highest award presented to a St. Mary’s graduate, recognizes the senior who has shown friendliness to all people, willingness to help
Erica Swannie (center) receives the Marian Award from St. Mary’s Principal Rebecca Kranz, while Most Rev. Richard Malone, guest speaker at this year’s Commencement, applauds.
others, leadership, and active support of the school. It is the only award presented at Graduation.
Erica was involved in many activities at St. Mary’s High School: president of the Senior Class for all four years; member of the National Honor Society, Scholar Program, Recruiting Team, SEEK, and the Student Mentoring Program; and she played varsity and junior varsity volleyball, including the 2012 State Championship team. She has received numerous awards including inductee into the Lancaster Youth Bureau Hall of Fame, All-Western New York Scholar Athlete for Fall 2013, Brady Workplace Safety Academic Excellence Award, 2013 Student Sage Scholarship Award, Pure Love Award, and the Linda Morgante Memorial Scholarship. She was also the salutatorian for the Class of 2014. Erica plans to major in Physical Therapy at the University of Central Florida, the University of Buffalo, or Daemen College.
As a Marian Award recipient, Erica received a trophy and a special gift from the school’s administration.
Erica is the daughter of Mark and Darlene; she has one sister, Jessica, who is a 2011 graduate of St. Mary’s.
The nominees for this award are selected by their classmates. After the nominees are chosen, they are asked to write an essay explaining what their four years at St. Mary’s High School have meant to them and their personal growth. The faculty and staff then vote for the winner of the award.
In addition to Erica, the other nominees for this year’s Marian Award were K. Eric Eggert of Cheektowaga, Christopher Hoffman of Depew, and Erin Neidhart of Lancaster.