LIVINGSTON, NJ — Approximately 6,000 Livingston students will head back to school on Tuesday, Sept. 5, but some never really left. 

A Summer Academy offered small, intensive classes to provide students the chance to exercise their academic muscles, explore their interests, prepare them for challenging classes, or receive remedial help. About 175 students took advantage of a wide range of offerings.

In the inaugural year of enrichment classes, students received a short introduction to particular content areas ranging from College Essay Writing to Coding to Art.

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A popular class—Design, Innovation, and Problem Solving (DIP) in Engineering—saw elementary-and middle-school students identifying engineering design principles and applying them to various challenges. Elementary students were inspired by literature.

For example, students used STEM skills to create a web that would support a given weight, an idea launched by “The Very Busy Spider.” They built a bathtub for “Harry the Dirty Dog” and a new bridge for the “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” They also came up with ideas like NASA scientists to create a spacecraft that could safely land on Mars.

“It’s exciting to see young children applying the principles of STEM to a hands-on project," said Natalie Topylko, director of Curriculum & Instruction. “Seen through the lens of engineering, projects that might simply be seen as 'fun' become an opportunity to 'think like an engineer' and use knowledge to design a solution, build a model, test the outcome, reconfigure the design and test again.”

"It’s an opportunity for the children to understand what practitioners in the field do and to imagine themselves one day doing the same as adults,” said Topylko.

Bridge classes, meanwhile, prepared high school students for Advanced Placement (AP) and honors-inspired bridge courses in math, science, with a second round beginning the week of Aug. 21 focused on social studies.

Shown above are Matthew Guzman, Owen Pourakis, Sara Muni and Paxton Nithikasem, who were tasked with building a new bridge to support “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”

Marilyn Joyce Lehren is the manager of communications for Livingston Public Schools.