LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Passaic Valley High School is expanding its curriculum by getting their students geared towards 21st Century job skills by including more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum based subject matter.

The high school had held computer programming honors courses in recent years. However, beginning this upcoming school year, two introduction to computer science courses will now be offered, as well as two advanced placement computer science courses.

According to Patricia Lynch, assistant principal/STEM, math teachers at the high school received fliers to guide their class period as they presented the topic of computer science awareness to their students, during Computer Science Awareness Day on Jan. 27.

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"The goal of the class was to pique their interest in the revamped course offerings that Mike Carlucci, supervisor of STEM, and I have put in place in that area," said Lynch. "Video segments were presented regarding the importance of computer science to all students for a successful future."

Before arriving at PVHS this past year, Carlucci spent 16 years as a math and science teacher Cedar Grove High School. Prior to that, he was a math teacher at Ridgefield High School for nine years. He began his career at the Moonachie School District teaching elementary science.

Carlucci said that fundamentals of coding to more advanced levels are in store as part of the high school's push towards STEM pathways.

"We are expanding the programming and this was presented to the students during the recent computer science awareness day," he said. "Elementary coding was shown along with more challenging levels."

Additionally, the "maker space" area inside the high school's STEM lab is technically geared for students interested in expanding their horizons in those fields.

"Students can go and tinker with and play with many things," he explained. "It's student led and it's really for those kids who don't like sitting behind a desk. Everything is hands-on. We have stations where they can come in here and take apart something, like a 3D printer, and put it back together again. We even have jewelry-making for students. The art component will be added next year."

Students also can interact with Ozobots, miniature sized robots that can be programmed for movement, which incorporates fundamentals of programming. Students are permitted to stop by the lab during their lunch periods or outside of their class time.

Carlucci added that students also can take part in tutorials working with Code.org.

"They can take part in 'hour of code,' which is a global initiative for students worldwide, that encourages tutorials and events for coding," he noted. "The engineering club recently did an hour of code as a club meeting and had 40 kids participate.

"The whole idea is to get students ready for what the high school will offer beginning the upcoming school year."