LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Tracey Marinelli, Superintendent of Schools in Little Falls, hosted a ribbon cutting on Monday, Oct. 8 for the grand opening of School #1's highly-anticipated Susan St. Ledger STEAM Lab alongside Mayor James Damiano; Councilwoman Maria Cordonnier; Susan St. Ledger, major contributor to the lab's creation; and Michael P. Schiff, president of Little Falls Education Foundation.

STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The development of the lab incorporates a multi-discipline approach that requires creativity, as well as critical thinking and problem solving. The lab offers students hands-on and interactive learning about science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

The Little Falls Education Foundation works to fund projects, programs and initiatives for student professional development opportunities that school budgets cannot necessary afford through fundraising, networking and community donors. 

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St. Ledger donated $60,000 towards the creation of the lab. President of Worldwide Field Operations at Splunk, a Silicon Valley software firm, St. Ledger has a niece and nephew in School #1. She has spent her career working with high-growth technology companies while being one of the very few female presidents in the field.

"The goal of STEAM Lab is to introduce children to the many ways of learning while exposing them to opportunities,” she said. “Education is the greatest gift that anyone can have and it is a privilege, an absolute privilege, not a right. As my father told me, 'The only thing you are doing in school is to learn so you can learn how to learn for the rest of your life because that is how one becomes successful, is to stay curious and have a learners mindset.'"

The mission of the STEAM lab is to invest in the district’s children by connecting them with enrichment activities that broaden their horizons by exposing them to STEAM topics in a fun and relaxed environment to develop the skills they need in order to find success in the 21st century.

"The lab will provide all students opportunities as we provide all the tools possible to set them up for college to take AP course and also for their careers in all areas such as coding, design, and science as we believe that a strong and sustainable community depends on the success and well-being of its children,” Marinelli said. Little Falls Township Public Schools has been identified as a High Performing District and is certified by the State Board of Education in providing a thorough and effective system of education to students.

The development of the STEAM Lab enables educators to prepare the foundations of students in STEAM subjects and therefore the students can utilize the knowledge in their personal and professional lives. School #1’s STEAM Lab is equipped with Chromebooks, 3D learning goggles, computer-aided design programs, robotics and coding, and science and math tools.

Mayor Damiano described the goal of the school’s lab as “a new style of learning for the younger generation providing them with higher levels of educational experience.” STEAM Labs are designed to elevate the studies of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics as a national priority. Through the school’s lab, STEAM projects will enable student to learn by inventing, creating and designing - and understanding the true meaning of design.

In today’s fast-changing labor market, the ultimate goal of the STEAM Lab is to attract students into STEAM fields and careers such as engineering and computer science as the skills students learn in the labs are applicable to all career pursuits such as critical and creative thinking, communication skills, collaboration, information and technology literacy, leadership skills, as well as productivity skills.

Lena Uzelac, a seventh grade student at School #1, said that “the goal of this lab is for students to grow in their communities and in the future help make the world a better place.” Little Falls School #1 is now a part of the many other schools and districts that are investing in STEAM education in order to advance students for the skills they need to thrive in their future careers.