Roxbury, NJ - Franklin and Nixon Elementary Schools experienced their first of four Title I Student Academic Intervention and Learning (S.A.I.L.) Parent Academies of the year at Nixon School last week. .
The schools qualify for Title I funding based on the number of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. The Title I programs are coordinated by Kelly Freund, Franklin and Nixon technology teacher.
Typically, the parent academies are set up where parents come to learn while their children are supervised with games and activities. The Dec. 5 academy changed it up a bit and brought the whole family out for a fun night of Super Science Stations. Forty-six families between the two schools pre-registered, with more than 100 people in attendance overall.
“This was our biggest event so far! I am hoping more and more families will come each time," Freund said. "I thought it was wonderful that so many came out on such a rainy night.”
The district’s purpose of holding SAIL Parent Academies is to educate parents on the things going on in their child’s elementary school. These academies were designed to make parents feel comfortable and welcome in their child’s school and to provide help for them in the easiest and most convenient ways possible.
Tuesday’s topic covered all aspects of science. The change in format allowed parents to spend the whole evening with their children learning about the curriculum the way the students do, through education and experiment.
To kick off the night, families were treated to a hot dinner, door prizes, and take-home science materials before making their way to eight different science stations. Take-home materials included a science journal and pencil that were used throughout the night to record observations and notes, a magnifying glass, a bug catcher/magnifier, and science-related books for every student at their reading level to encourage discovery at home.
Staffed by district educators each session provided insight on their topic before delving right into an experiment. Topics included engineering bubbles, Dash & Dot robots, fingerprint analysis, the golden ratio, playing with polymers (aka slime!), owl pellet dissection, circuit creations, and clay boats.
Stations touched on numerous facets of science while incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) into the equation all of which tie into the elementary school’s science curriculum, like the FOSS kits used with owl pellets and circuit stations. “We encourage our students in science to follow the STEAM process and way of thinking and analyzing science experiments," Freund said. "Children follow the steps – ask, imagine, create, plan, test, and improve.”
District supervisors shared their vision, ideas, and wishes for the event and allowed Freund to run with it. Assistant Superintendent Chuck Seipp commended Freund on her organization and collaboration efforts with district supervisors like Kelly Curtiss and Denise Glenn.
Glenn and Curtiss were both thrilled with the turnout and family participation. Glenn, Science Supervisor for grades 6-12 said, “I had an absolute blast and so did the kids! It was wonderful to work with the little people and many of them recognized me from the STEM/Science Fair. A few began discussing their projects and said how they are getting ready for this year.”
Glenn added, “Clearly, this event is showcasing our kids as well as the dedication and hard work of our staff. I am truly honored to have participated in an event that supported my passion for science and the education of the children.”
Glenn’s passion for science Tuesday night wasn’t alone. Eisenhower Middle School’s STEAM teacher, Phil Moskowitz along with Franklin and Nixon’s Media Specialist, Sarah DiLorenzo shared their passion for robots, engineering, and technology with the students. DiLorenzo’s students were excited to show off Dash & Dot to their parents as they had been working with it at school. Dash is a robot that allows students to program it to respond to voice, navigate objects, dance, and even sing. Moskowitz also came prepared with robots from his STEAM lab and robotics club. Families were able to see how entering in code created a response from the robots.
Antonio Coe, a sixth grader from Lincoln/Roosevelt School was there with his mom and younger brother Tristano, a second grader at Franklin School. He made a point of going over to Moskowitz to talk about the robotics club at EMS. Coe said, “I’m going to join the robotics club next year when I’m there.”
Although not a science teacher, Freund did have a favorite station of the night. “My favorite was the Engineering Bubbles station. I always gravitate towards the younger ones, but I was surprised to see how many fourth-graders enjoyed it as well. They were intrigued by the fact that dipping the shape twice doubled the bubble inside each other.”
Overall, the night was a huge success with many parents sharing that their children didn’t want to leave because they were having so much fun doing science.
Seipp, who also has a child at Franklin School shared that even his children were too excited to go to sleep when they got home because of all the fun they’d had.
He shared how great it was to have parent involvement as many times parents feel disconnected from their child’s education. “Watching parents and kids get excited about academia is what this is all about.”
These academies allow the district to foster inclusive and collaborative cultures with families as well as internal and external stakeholders. In an effort to increase participation in these workshops, the district actively strives to eliminate as many barriers as possible. For instance, registration forms were distributed via email and hard copy in both English and Spanish. Meals, childcare, and translator services were also available at this academy as the district tries to build the bridge between a child’s connection from school to home.
Freund hopes families take away from this academy that “parents can enjoy a night out with their children learning how fun Science can be and the exciting things and resources we have for science in Roxbury Schools!”
The next Parent Academy for Franklin and Nixon School families this year is on Writing and will take place on February 1st at Franklin School. Free babysitting will be provided along with translators if needed. Parents should on the lookout for additional details at their school.