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Families Take Roller Coaster Challenge at Christ Light of the Nations’ STEM Night

posted Feb 18, 2015, 2:45 PM by Cara Koen   [ updated Feb 18, 2015, 2:45 PM ]

Students at Christ Light of the Nations School invited their families to join them for a special “night out” during Catholic Schools Week 2015 (Jan. 25-31). Parents and students gathered with teachers in the auditorium on Tuesday evening to learn more about the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs that their students have been experiencing at school.  Teachers from CLN have been participating in the unique STEM professional development program made possible by a grant from Monsanto through the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation and the Catholic Education Center.

Teachers participate in weekend workshops to gain new skills and ideas for bringing real-world connections into their classrooms.  The workshops are held throughout the school year at renowned local organizations such as the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, the Missouri Department of Conservation and Maryville University.  The teachers come away with the tools they need to implement hands-on lessons in their classrooms that encourage students to apply science and math concepts to solve real-world problems using engineering and technology.

For example, CLN students have been learning about and building zoo habitats.  Teachers guided them through the Design Process using a variety of skills to identify the problem, design possible solutions, construct and test, and then go back and revise as needed.  “Students are gaining skills and knowledge that are essential to success in the 21st Century Workforce,” said Sue Geiseke, program director. “These STEM projects facilitate use of a variety of skills, which help with understanding and retention of the concepts.”

At the Family Fun STEM night, families were challenged to build the fastest marble roller coaster using foam tubing and masking tape.  They began by drawing designs of possible solutions, then built their models using materials provided, tested them and made revisions and adjustments to the model as needed until the marble would roll from top to bottom successfully.  Each team’s final design was timed by a teacher and the fastest marble roller coaster was recognized at the end of the event.

For more on the STEM program, read this recent article in the St. Louis Review: http://stlouisreview.com/article/2014-07-09/connecting-principles