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Roxbury’s STEAM Expo Focused on Seeds of Sustainability

NEWS RELEASE 

Roxbury’s STEAM Expo Focused on Seeds of Sustainability

STEAM Expo Group Photo with Roxbury Gael  

ROXBURY, NJ (March 22, 2019) – More than 150 students explored their curious nature of science, technology, engineering, art, and math while investigating sustainability in this year’s STEAM Expo for grades PreK-6 on Saturday, March 9th at Eisenhower Middle School. Each school and grade were represented at the expo and showcased experiments that encompassed every branch of STEAM with many sustainable-themed projects. 

Roxbury Schools receive grant funding from SJFS and NJEA This year’s focus was on Seeds of Sustainability, where we asked our students to gear their projects on sustainable topics such as renewable energy, eco-friendly, gardens/composts, weather, health and wellness, recycling, food/waste, etc. whereby promoting the sustainability of our community and our planet while performing valuable research that contributes to a stronger, healthier relationship between humans and their environment. 

This expo is one of two that are supported and funded through a $10,000 grant by Sustainable Jersey for Schools and the NJEA. The STEAM Expos: Seeds of Sustainability and Gearing Gaels to Go Green proposal submitted by Denise Glenn, Roxbury Supervisor of Science Grades 6-12 and Ann Rhodes, Roxbury Community School/Community Relations Coordinator was one of eleven submissions awarded a $10,000 grant in by SJFS and the NJEA in February. 

As part of this grant, Roxbury Schools would be holding two expos. The first was this one on March 9th which gave students the opportunity to teach their peers, their parents, and the public about sustainability projects they had worked on. The science team, administration, staff, families, and the public were able to speak to our up and coming sustainability champions from each school. Students were excited to share their results with our Roxbury community. 

EMS STEM Lab in Action Glenn explained that “The STEAM Expo is designed to support our curriculum and showcase the many talents of our students throughout the district. This year we chose the theme of Seeds of Sustainability to highlight both the district and the schools receiving bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey for Schools. The district and school green teams have worked very hard for the past two years to establish sustainable practices within our schools. It was a natural progression to make this year’s STEAM Expo about sustainability.” 

The Plant Room Adding, “Our students are naturally curious and looking for new opportunities to explore and learn about their world. Our science program really emphasizes making observations, seeking solutions to problems, wondering why things happen, and creating ways to solve and improve humankind. Children are very perceptive and with technology embedded in their daily lives, they are exposed to many things. They are very aware of our environment, the overuse of natural resources, the limited space we have on Earth, and the challenges we face ahead. While we can’t provide them with all the answers, we can certainly provide them the tools to make informed decisions and find solutions to sustain our natural resources.” 

Jillian Lutz, Roxbury’s Supervisor of Science Grades PreK-5 shared how the STEAM Expo provides students with an opportunity to explore and delve into the science and engineering practices that are a part of the Next Generation Science Standards. “These practices help students to further develop their critical thinking and communication skills that students will need to be successful in a world fueled by innovations within science and technology. Students that participate in the Expo engage in habits and skills that scientists, engineers, and mathematicians do on a daily basis. Engaging in these practices helps students to become analytical thinkers and problem-solvers which will help them to exceed expectations in all aspects of their grade level curriculum.” 

Vendor tables in action at the STEAM Expo The STEAM Expo was advertised through the district website, email blasts, social media, and through our teachers and building principals. Many of the staff discussed the STEAM Expo in their classrooms and encouraged the students to partake in the day. Glenn mentioned how she often sees first-hand the wonderful projects the students do in the classroom. “For example, the Roxbury Community School Preschool at Kennedy School made games and toys out of household materials. It was amazing to actually see working games (or simple machines) made out of cardboard, sticks, string, and cereal boxes. I loved it and so did our students.” 

Adding, “Did you know that our kids make functioning greenhouses and grow plants in the classroom? They must design the entire process using household materials. Our teachers inspire and support our students every day in this way!” 

Some of the favorite sustainable projects seen from each school included: 

Roxbury teachers making paper with kids Matthew Schaefer, third grader at Franklin School who did a project on composting with worms, also known as vermicomposting. He was knowledgeable and well-informed on how worms help break down organic material to keep it out of the landfill. He showed first hand the steps in the process as well as the final result. 

“I asked Matthew if we should have composters at the schools to help get rid of organic material from the cafeteria and he said emphatically, yes! I shared with him that because of this grant that was going to be possible. That his school along with four others in Roxbury would be getting composters and aeroponic gardens. He’ll be our go-to expert at Franklin when we get them up and running in a few months,” said Rhodes. 

Wyatt Glasser, fifth grader at Lincoln/Roosevelt conducted an experiment to see how much paper waste is accumulated in an average household kitchen. “I was amazed at the facts and the amount of trash an average household creates because of paper towels and napkins. Cloth is the way to go and we really need to go back to the basics. I think of my grandmother and how she used plain white flour sack towels years ago. They were simple and effective and her home was spotless,” shared Glenn. 

Glasser also shared that New Jersey has over nine active landfills. For such a small state to have so many is a lot. 

Roxbury teacher with kids with a bucket of dirt and worms composting Emily Loeb, first grader from Jefferson School learned all about recycling and how to upcycle materials to make new things like crafts. She asked herself the question, “why should I recycle?”. After doing some research she learned that she could take recyclable materials like toilet paper and paper towel rolls, and make something new with them. She decorated them to make pencil and supply holders for her desk and even a pair of binoculars. Emily also put her knowledge to the test and quizzed those that stopped by with different recycling facts. 

Roxbury teachers teaching kids about human water pollution Delia McAuliffe, third grader from Jefferson School did “Fantastic Bioplastics”. She learned how traditional plastics affect the environment and how we could use bioplastics instead which are less harmful to the earth and wildlife. She added an extra component of explanation with a pair of headphones and a circuit connection for visitors to learn more about the process of bioplastics. 

Fiona Baker, first grader at Kennedy School created her own robot who could clean up trash and recycling. This robot followed a designated path and picked up cans along the way and then dumped it in a designated hole to a recycling container below. 

Maddie and Grant DelRusso, second grader and RCS preschooler at Kennedy School tied in social-emotional learning into their sustainability project. They learned first hand how seeds grew exposed to different emotional environments. The seeds grown with positive messages or with no messages at all thrived much better than those that had negative messages said around them. A good lesson to learn at any age! 

Sophia and Luca Matullo, Kindergartener and third grader at Kennedy School did two different projects but both included dogs. Sophia investigated the health and social benefits of having therapy dogs in schools, while her brother Lucas, did “Poo Poo Power”, a favorite for many including the supervisors as well as the Roxbury Board of Education president, Leo Coakley. Poo Poo Power is an invention already created and in use in other states and around the world that turns dog poop into a natural resource by converting the waste into fertilizer and energy. How great would it be to see something like this at Horseshoe Lake and around the schools? 

Holden Riesebeck, third grader at Nixon School researched landfills and recycling. He shared numerous facts about how long items take to break down in landfills and provided alternative options such as reusable bags and straws. 

Avery Sanabria, fourth grader at Franklin School found out what happens to crayons when they are thrown away. She took what she learned and made her own crayons out of the broken ones. It was a fun takeaway for anyone who stopped by her project to learn more. 

Trace Roberts, fifth grader at Lincoln/Roosevelt School looked at wind turbines and how they could be used as power sources. He even created his very own turbine to show you how easy it was. 

Throughout the expo students also had a chance to visit close to a dozen vendors and staff tables that provided fun activities and information for the students and their families. Staff tables included Kasey Fox (Grade 3 Teacher at Jefferson) and Erica Iuvone (Kindergarten Teacher at Jefferson) that had kids making recycled paper,  Jennifer Dranoff (Grade 3 Teacher at Franklin) and Alyssa Bellardino (Grade 2 Teacher at Nixon) focused on teaching kids about water pollution with hands-on activities, and Kathy Byrne (Grade 4 Teacher at Kennedy) and Justin Iazzetti (K-2 REACH Teacher at Kennedy) taught kids about composting and the benefits of vermicomposting with worms! 

Phil Moskowitz, the STEM Teacher at Eisenhower Middle School and his STEM and Robotics students in Grades 7-8 had several projects on display. They highlighted using alternative forms of energy and how to power communities. His STEM BOTS kids demonstrated how their robots work and how they participated in various competitions. He also had the 3-D printers working and kids building their solar cars. 

Glenn commented how it was amazing the amount of participants and the projects on display this year. “Each year the Expo gets bigger and better. It is one of my favorite events here in Roxbury. It showcases the talents and ingenuity of our students. The plant room was new this year and it was a big hit with our families. Everyone went home with homemade seed bombs to grow wildflowers. The wildflowers support bees, butterflies, and birds. The kids also made homemade peat pots out of recycled toilet paper tubes and egg cartons. They biodegrade naturally and won’t hurt the environment. Again, a simple sustainable practice we can all do to support the Earth.” 

Outside organizations were also key in providing information to everyone. The Lake Hopatcong Foundation talked about point source pollution and had participants see through a simple demonstration how this pollution occurs. Being that part of Roxbury is on Lake Hopatcong that really peaked our interest! The Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority highlighted the importance of recycling and how we can reduce our footprint on Earth. Engineering for Kids, Mad Science, and the Cub Scouts also had tables with hands-on activities for the all to enjoy. “All of the vendors do an outstanding job each and every year. We can’t run the event without their support and time,” shared Glenn. 

Another key rotation that all the students were able to enjoy was the Star Lab, an inflatable planetarium brought to us by Kim Leckie from the Girls Scouts of Northern NJ. She gave a short 20-minute presentation on the stars and had the students make and take a star guide. 

This event would not be as smooth as it is without the help of all our staff and student volunteers. Glenn shared, “I would personally like to say thank you to all of our staff that came out to the STEAM Expo. Whether they ran a table or just came to support their students, it made an impact! I also want to thank our Roxbury High School mini-THON kids for serving as student STEAM ambassadors. They do a wonderful job each and every year. Of course, it goes without saying, my good friend, the GAEL keeps me busy throughout the day. He gets very excited with all of the projects and loves being in the parade too! We are already planning for next year, in fact, save the date for March 7, 2020!” 

Students that participated in the STEAM Expo were given STEAM t-shirts and plant takeaways. Each student also received a participatory certificate as this is a non-judged event. Students were encouraged this week to bring their projects to school for the rest of their peers to see. 

In an effort to conserve resources, the district put together a digital brochure that includes all of our registered students’ topics, descriptions, and pictures from the day. 

Roxbury’s second STEAM Expo of the year is planned for this fall, where the district plans on bringing in outside organizations, businesses, and groups to teach the community about different green topics. The Gearing Gaels to Go Green Expo is expected to have information booths, classes, demonstrations, health checks, physical activities, and hands-on experiences and interactions for all ages. 

The district itself will host a tasting and composting session using our new aeroponic gardens and composters purchased from the grant funds. Leading up to this expo, students and staff will learn about gardening, healthy nutritional habits, and composting. Items grown and information learned will be turn-keyed to the public as we Gear Gaels to Go Green! 

PHOTO ATTACHED (courtesy of Roxbury Schools)

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For more information, contact: Roxbury Community School/Community Relations Coordinator Ann Rhodes at arhodes@roxbury.org or 973-584-7699.

 

ABOUT ROXBURY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Roxbury Public Schools is a K-12 school district preparing the children of today for tomorrow. As a dynamic and thriving district, in partnership with a supportive and collaborative community, Roxbury Public Schools inspires and empowers all learners to flourish as ethical and global citizens in the 21st century. The district serves students throughout Roxbury Township, New Jersey, including the areas of Landing, Kenvil, Succasunna, Ledgewood, Mount Arlington, Port Morris, Flanders, and Wharton. Connect with us online at www.roxbury.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RoxburyPublicSchools.