Education

Westfield's Franklin School Rolls Out STEAM After-School Program

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Teacher Kathy Dibble helps first and second graders make bread pudding in cooking class. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio
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Fourth and fifth graders learn and practice new chess moves. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio
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WESTFIELD, NJ – Franklin Elementary School rolled out a new after-school program this fall offering a wide variety of enrichment classes that is being met with enthusiasm by students, teachers and administrators alike.

“Most of our classes are at or near capacity,” said teacher Matt Pask, who serves as director of the STEAM program, which began Oct. 6.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, a takeoff on the highly popular STEM initiative. The program runs for six Tuesdays until 4:30 p.m. and is taught by Franklin teachers at a cost of $75 per student. About 205 children are enrolled this fall.

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“We wanted to keep it reasonable,” said Principal Eileen Cambria of the cost. “We didn’t want it to be prohibitive.”

With proceeds from its yearly Bash, a social held in March, Franklin’s Parent Teacher Organization donated seed money to start the program, such as the costs of teacher training and equipment. Teachers took courses in STEM activities and planned lessons over the summer.

“Within minutes, the classes filled up,” Cambria said. “So, we’re going to run a winter program and a spring program.”

Currently, students enrolled in STEAM at Franklin can experiment with classes such as chess, yoga, cooking, Lego robotics and coding through music. In past years, Franklin has provided its students with chess and coding clubs, which were absorbed into STEAM, Cambria said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Franklin was abuzz with students learning and working.

In design, construction and engineering, children were planning to build a “buddy bench” to be placed in the playground as a designated spot where students looking for playmates can meet. Participants each wore an orange Home Depot smock.

“They’ll be ready to start designing and hammering next week,” teacher Tara Romano said.

In a second floor classroom, fifth grader Tristan Wroe was trying his hand at Lego robotics.

“We can program it to move left or right and for how long, like how many seconds,” he said about the “bot” sitting on his and his partner’s desk.

“It’s pretty fun,” Tristan added.

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