CLARK, NJ –  How does one get a toy drone stuck high in a tree down to the ground safely? It’s not the start of a joke, it was the beginning of a Family Engineering Night called “Get Down” at St. John the Apostle School recently.

To answer the kick-off question, participants were first guided through the steps of an engineering design process. Then each family was given a small hand-held spinner to represent the drone.  Groups were asked to imagine and sketch out a possible solution at their table for how to get a drone out of a tree.

After creating a design idea, teams were let loose on a table filled with a variety of materials from the school’s maker space. Before long there were zip lines, ladders, slides and landing pads under construction.

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Testing stations simulating the tree presented in the challenge were available around the room for families to test their creations.  Teams were encourage to review their designs as a final step in the design process.

School officials said that teams and families grappled with problems, expressed their creativity and productively while learning from their mistakes and from others around them. 

The event was presented by the SJA STEM Club and sponsored by the SJA Parent/Faculty Guild.  Twenty-four families and one girl scout troop participated. The students’ ranged in age from four to thirteen years old.  This activity was created by Engineering is Elementary, a curriculum program developed by the Museum of Science in Boston, MA. 

Saint John the Apostle School is a faith-centered academic community based on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  They commit to serve all regardless of race, nationality or religion.  To prepare students to be responsible adults in an ever-changing world, their goal is to focus on academic excellence as well as instill spiritual, moral and social values.   Registration is ongoing.  Call the school office at 732-388-1360 for additional information or visit our website at


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