Board of Education Meeting
A Board of Education meeting will take place July 13, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Falls Building.
What better way to learn science and engineering principles than through hands-on experimentation? That’s what Mahopac Middle School (MMS) students did this week when they answered the question, How can an egg be dropped off a tall building without breaking?
Sixth grade students prepared for the annual Egg Drop event by designing containers for their eggs using scientific and engineering principles as part of the school’s commitment to STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
MMS teacher Victoria Lew guided students from sixth grade classes through the challenge, based on the Mars Rover landing. Students worked on making the best “rover” for their “eggstronauts.”
“The students are really learning the engineering and design process as well as Newton’s laws,” said Lew. Former MMS STEM instructor Joseph Corace came out of retirement to launch the egg rovers off of the school building. Corace had led the experiment in previous years. “He is the most comfortable up there launching the eggs,” said Lew, “so we encouraged him to come back and do it again.”
Though some of the eggs made it through the experiment and some of them didn’t, all of the students benefited from learning what worked and what didn’t—key steps to the scientific method.
The long-range goal of STEM education is to prepare students for a full range of college and career choices in science, technology, engineering, and math.
“If everyone finishes the book ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ I will kiss a pig,” Fulmar Road Elementary School Principal Gary Chadwick told the student body and staff during the school’s One School, One Book assembly back in May. Chadwick fulfilled his promise this week, when traveling petting zoo Two By Two Zoo came to visit, bringing with them not just the pig, but lots of other animals as well.
Every student and staff member at Fulmar Road was given the challenge to read “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White. Starting in May, students, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, office workers and all school personnel and family members began to read the book as part of One School, One Book, a program sponsored by Read to Them, a non-profit organization promoting family literacy.
Anticipation built this week, while students enjoyed petting all kinds of animals, including rabbits, kangaroos, turtles, snakes, parrots and goats, among others. But the real excitement came when Chadwick took his place at the pavilion.
“As you remember, I promised to kiss a pig if everyone did their reading,” Chadwick said, addressing the students. “I don’t think a day has gone by when one of you hasn’t said, ‘You better kiss that pig!’”
“I am so thankful that all of you took the time to read ‘Charlotte’s Web,’” Chadwick told students.
As the Two By Two staff member lifted Freddie the pig up, Chadwick kissed him, as students laughed and applauded.
Graduates of the Tech Center at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES are not only ready for college and careers, they are ready for life. That was the consensus of the student speakers at the recent graduation on the BOCES’ Yorktown campus. The graduates represented the 40 programs Tech has to offer. More than 40 Mahopac students attended The Tech Center this year, with many of them earning high honors and awards, including induction into the honor society.
North Salem student and valedictorian Leah Feniger said she not only feels better prepared for a career in Computer Graphics because of The Tech Center, but she feels better prepared for the practical side of life as well. “We learned about business and finance and even how to do our taxes,” said Feniger.
Salutatorian Jesse Fleming, also from North Salem, said being a Sports Medicine student enabled him to find himself and discover his desire to become a doctor one day. “The hands-on techniques we learned were inspiring and exciting,” he said, “and I learned more in this class than I have in all four years of high school.”
Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES District Superintendent James Ryan spoke at the ceremony as did Tech Center Director Cathy Balestrieri and principals Steve Lowery and Jim Bellucci. BOCES board members and area district superintendents were also on hand for the celebration.
More than 400 students graduated from the Tech Center with training and expertise in such fields as culinary arts, fashion design, computer technology, environmental science, healthcare, computer graphics, digital film, law enforcement, urban forestry, auto mechanics and education. The program for the graduation ceremony listed pages of scholarships, honors and awards received by the graduating class including top honors in statewide competitions and scholarships from community and professional organizations.
Seniors can now spend some time during the waning days until graduation in the new outdoor seating area installed recently at Mahopac High School.
Thanks to generous donations from the Yearbook Club and the Parent Teacher Organization, the beautiful all-weather area was installed right outside the cafeteria and includes several benches, a picnic table, attractive recycling and trash receptacles as well as matching planters sporting tall flowering plants. The furniture sits on a newly installed stone patio.
The Site-Based Committee, which includes faculty, administrators, parents and students, came up with the idea to provide the outdoor space last year.
The space marks the first time high school students will have access to a space outside of the school building. “Students generally rise to the occasion when they are given the freedom to use something like this,” said MHS guidance counselor and Site-Based Committee member Julie Cummins, who added that students have been very respectful of the book nooks installed in the high school last year. “We let the students drive the ideas for the project,” she said, “because it is their school.” Cummins said that she and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development Dr. Adam Pease designed the space. It will be open select periods of the day for seniors this year and may be expanded to include juniors in the future.
“Our buildings and grounds staff did a great job with preparing the space and putting in the planters as well,” said MHS Interim Principal John Augusta.
Senior Jessica Mastropietro, who is on the Site-Based Committee, said she will enjoy using the outdoor seating area, if only for a short time. “I’m excited to roll it out and be able to use it for the rest of the year,” she said.
Living environment students in Jen Cauthers’ class colored in their plant and animal cell diagrams, hovered their phones over them and watched them come to augmented 3D life in class recently. Using the Quiver augmented-reality app, the Mahopac High School students were able to look into their creations in depth in a way previously impossible.
“It’s fascinating,” said student Makenly Crisman. “It makes the diagram three dimensional, so you can really see everything that is there.”
Cauthers has been using both virtual reality devices, in which students see a digital re-creation of a real-life setting, and augmented reality devices, which deliver virtual elements overlaid onto a real-world setting, in her science classes this year and has seen her students’ interest pique.
“It makes lessons more engaging and interactive for them,” she says.
For virtual reality, students use cardboard goggles called Google Cardboard. Students put the goggles on and view videos on their phones while wearing the goggles. Students then use Cardboard-compatible applications on their phones to watch class-appropriate videos, placing the phones into the back of the viewer.
There are also hundreds of virtual “field trips” that teachers can guide students through using Google cardboard.
“We did a tour of the Galapagos Islands using Google Cardboard, and the students were really engaged in it,” Cauthers said. “You felt like you were immersed in the islands. You could see all the different types of coral and fish species close up.”
Because not all students have smart phones, the district purchased a trial Google Expedition set, which will arrive this summer and be beta tested. It will include about 30 devices. Cauthers said teachers hope to use it on a widespread group of students next year and potentially purchase more as needed.
Students using the Quiver augmented-reality app can not only see their diagrams popping right off the page, but they can make recordings and videos as well. “They can record a tutorial on the app, and it also has a quiz on the diagram that students can take,” Cauthers said, which helps them memorize the material.
The technology is evolving all the time, according to Cauthers. “It really is the beginning of an exciting new way of learning.”
History came to life this week during Austin Road Elementary School’s Colonial Day. Fourth graders immersed themselves in period games, crafts and activities as part of their study of Colonial America and the American Revolution.
Students learned tinsmithing and stenciling, played games, and danced to Colonial music. But it wasn’t all fun and games. They also got to experience the strictness of “Dame School,” where teachers were not as kind as they are today.
“This was the first year Austin Road held this event, and it was great!” said fourth grade teacher Katie Douma. “We’re already looking forward to next year.”