RANDOLPH, NJ - More than 90 rising third to fifth grade students at Fernbook Elementary School in Randolph spent three weeks engaged in creative problem solving and learning about engineering, environmental science, performing arts, technology, visual arts and leadership activities through the Summer STEAM Program.
Students selected the discipline they were most interested in and studied it July 18-August 4 in a special morning summer program at the school. This was the third year and largest year of the program at Fernbrook, which increased by 25 more students this year.
Fernbook Teacher Jenise Janulis, the lead teacher and program director for STEAM, worked together with Fernbrook Media Specialist Michele Savvides to create the program. This summer was an exciting one for students who constructed a water filtration system for the school’s pond, and learned coding, 3D printing and robotics, and helped create an outdoor educational mural and mosaics and solar powered vehicles. In addition, they worked in the school’s garden and staged and performed “The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig,” she said.
“The vision was for a program that was academic in nature but exciting and hands-on where students could explore deeply a subject of interest,” Mrs. Janulis said. “By using the basic skills of reading, writing and math, students delve deep into their personal choice learning area of Engineering, Environmental Science, Performing Arts, Technology or Visual Arts. The new science standards are addressed and female students who traditionally have lagged in the technical fields are encouraged to become engaged in the camp that uses technology in all disciplines.”
The program culminated with a special open house celebration for parents which included presentations, a show and a glimpse into everything the students learned.
Fourth grader Harsh Magdum was excited to show his parents the helicopter/car he built in his engineering program. “We learned about wind power, solar power and hydro power, which is water power,” he said.
Vretheka Vijayan, who will also be a fourth grader this fall, said she learned how to work together with other students and made an electronic snap circuit.
Students in the engineering group in Summer STEAM learned about electricity and how it can be produced using fossil fuels, Janulis noted. Environmental students learned how to maintain a garden and shared vegetables and herbs with their parents and also showed them the water filtration system in the pond in the school’s Outdoor Educational Center.
Students in the performing arts group used creative ideas and talents to create an old show with a new twist which they performed for their families on the last day. The technology group used coding to create online games and Lego robots.
The visual arts group created large mosaic boards and an outdoor mural with the state flower in the school’s Outdoor Educational Center.
Parents Marlon and Zina Holder raved about the program which they said inspired son Marco and daughter Jazmine and taught them important problem-solving skills. They said their children learned to grow and harvest vegetables and build the water filtration system in the outdoor pond.
“It was an awesome experience witnessing the student campers, counselors and teachers all ‘evolve’ through this program making everyone greater thinkers and stronger learners,” Janulis said.
The camp was staffed by certified Randolph teachers, student volunteers and college students, many whom graduated from Randolph High School.
The program, which was funded by the Randolph Education Foundation in the summer of 2014, received Title 1 funding this year. All of the participating students attend Fernbrook Elementary School.