SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Ms. Samantha Scutieri is always brainstorming to come up with new and fun ways to challenge her students and teach them new skills.

So when Union Catholic introduced an Engineering: Innovation and Design course last year, Ms. Scutieri, who teaches the class, implemented an Ugly Christmas Sweatshirt Project, which combines design, programming, and circuitry.

On Tuesday morning, Ms. Scutieri’s current Engineering: Innovation and Design class showed off their recently completed Ugly Christmas Sweatshirts when they visited the sophomore homerooms to get feedback from students on their projects. The class consists of Joseph Almeida, Cameron Guanlao, Andre Rodrigue, Jianping Shen, Philip Silva, Maya Walker, Jiana Wang, Jared Ware, and Scarlett Zheng.

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For the Ugly Christmas Sweatshirt Project, Ms. Scutieri’s class broke up into three groups of three. Each group had to fill the jobs of Project Manager, Fabric Engineer, Electrical Engineer, and Programmer. Each sweatshirt had to be equipped with blinking lights, and one sweatshirt in each group had to be wired for sound.

“I like circuitry and my background is programming, so I wanted to find a way to incorporate both into the course,’’ said Ms. Scutieri. “It’s a fun and interesting way to learn about something that they don’t really have much experience with. What’s so great about this project is that even kids that have taken physics and other science classes, don’t really get the chance to study circuitry. So it’s exciting for students to do something they haven’t done before, and to see the excitement on their faces is great. Their faces light up when they see it all come together and how it works.’’

Ms. Scutieri’s students had a great time working on the Ugly Sweatshirts, and they learned a lot.

“It was definitely a fun project to do,’’ said Zheng, a junior. “I never knew how to do circuitry before, so it was great to learn how to solder and get in touch with electricity. It was very cool and very challenging. I never knew anything about soldering before, so here I was learning this completely new thing. It was a very cool and interesting project to work on, and I think it’s so great for students at Union Catholic to have the opportunity to learn how to use all these different skills.’’

Shen was the member of his group who had sound equipped to his sweatshirt, in addition to the lights.

“I had some experience with circuitry from when I took physics last year, but this is the first time I combined circuitry with designing and programming together,’’ said Shen, a senior.

Shen said he hopes showing their projects to the sophomores will spark an interest.

“They seemed like they really liked what we did, so hopefully this will lead to more students taking Engineering because it’s a great class where you will be challenged, have fun, and learn a lot.’’