At Moorestown Township Public Schools, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education, also known as STEM, has been making great strides these past few years. STEM education focuses on these areas together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively.
Within the Moorestown Township Public Schools system, the success of STEM can be seen in both in and outside of school activities. The Moorestown High School FIRST Robotics Team has been selected to participate in the Mid-Atlantic Region Championship; several students have participated in the Coriell Science Fair, winning multiple awards; the William Allen Middle School MathCounts team gained first place at the regional competition, making it to the states; and Partnership for Acceleration Challenge and Enrichment, PACE, held its annual science fair where 105 students participated this year.
“It is important to expose children at a young age to science. Science can be enjoyed by students of all ages and all education levels. It is important that students interact with science and understand it and look forward to exploring their surroundings through science. Science is a very approachable subject through many different subjects,” Sandra Saouaf, of PACE, said.
The MHS FIRST Robotics Team, also known as FRC5113 and Combustible Lemons, was started in late 2013 and participated in their first competition in 2014. Now in its second season, the team has been busy since Jan. 4 when the robotics-building season started. This season’s challenge is about a recycling-themed game called “Recycle Rush.” Two alliances of three robots played against each other by scoring points in their ability to stack totes on scoring platforms, putting recycling containers on top of those tote stacks, and properly disposing pool noodles that represent litter. The ability to work among three teams in one alliance is very important.
The Lemons participated in the Mid Atlantic Hartboro-Horsham District and Seneca District. In the Hartboro-Horsham competition on Feb. 27–28, the team ranked 16 out of 37 teams, but was unfortunately not chosen to participate in the Elimination Match. Then during the Seneca District competition on March 21–22, the team was invited to join the alliance of FRC1640 Sab-Bot-Age and FRC1218 Vulcan Robotics. Their alliance’s strong performance had led them to be the winning alliance, thus they have been selected to participate in the Mid Atlantic Region Championship in Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., on April 9–11. In addition to being in the winning Alliance, the Lemons also received the Imagery Award in Honor of Jack Kamen in this Seneca Competition.
At the end of the season, FRC5113 was ranked 36th out of 110 teams in the Mid Atlantic region.
The HS robotics team, which is a school club, has two teacher advisors, Ed Wright, who teaches honors robotics and lasers elective and Honors Engineering and Design course, and Zack Bross, who teaches AP physics and Physics, along with 54 students during this season, which is a significant increase from 30 students last year. To learn more about the team go to www.mhsfirst.org.
“After doing robotics, you’re pretty confident you want to work in the STEM field. FIRST can help you with scholarships, knowledge on how to use lots of the tools, and how to be an engineer. It also helps you learn to work with a group, so you can work well with your peers once you get into college and beyond,” Kartik Bhardwaj said.
“FIRST is basically all about STEM. Besides building the robot itself, our basic goal is to promote STEM in the community,” Kathie Jin said.
There is a long list of scholarships offered by partners of FIRST. Some 92 percent come from college/universities, and the rest from corporations, foundations and associations. In January, there were 175 scholarship providers, which amounted to more than $20 million in potential college scholarships. Sixty-six percent of these scholarships were for those majoring in STEM.
Moorestown has also seen success with the Coriell Science Fair. According to the Coriell website, Coriell Institute for Medical Research has hosted its annual Science Fair, showcasing the very best of South Jersey’s science programs. Students from Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties in grades six through 12 demonstrate their passion for science in exceptional projects that span the sciences.
Moorestown has been a participant in the Coriell Science Fair for many years. Each year, students are encouraged to sign up in December for the fair. This year, there were 15 students from UES and seven from WAMS participating; there were students from MHS as well.
The 34th Annual Coriell Science Fair was held on Saturday, March 21 in Blackwood. There were more than 200 entries at the fair.
The following awards were earned by UES students: Isabel Song, 1st, Computer Science category; Chad Noyes, honorable mention, Environmental Science and American Chemical Society Award; Soliel Saint-Cry, second, Medicine and Health, Caroline Brinkman, third, Microbiology and Zodiac Arresting Systems Award; Annabelle Jin, second, Zoology; Vinay Panayanchery, Jack Duffy, and Naveen Shah, third, Team Project; and Jane Cohen, first, Microbiology and “Best Of Fair” in six-eight grade. WAMS students’ winners were: Wesley Liu, third, Behavioral and Social Sciences; Askash Pillai, first, Earth and Space Sciences; Lauren Chen, Honorable Mention, Medicine and Heath, Aditya Garg, third, Physics; and Aditya Pillai, honorable mention, Earth and Space Sciences. One individual from MHS, Reeves Balderson won second in Environmental Science and received “Best of Fair” in nine-12 grade. To see more visit: www.coriell.org/education/science-fair.
First and second place winners moved onto to the Delaware Valley Science Fair on Wednesday, April 1. At the Delaware Valley Science Fair the awards earned were: Saint-Cry, CHOP award first; Cohen, honorable mention, Microbiology and Engineering Arresting Systems Corporation Award; Jin, Pennsylvania Society Biomedical Research Award; Song, honorable mention, Computer; and Balderson, third, Environmental, ASU Walton Sustianability Solutions Initiatives, United States Navy/United States Marine Corps, and Water Environment Federation Award, first. To see more visit www.drexel.edu/dvsf/.
Winners of Delaware Valley Science Fair advance to the internationals, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair to be held in Pittsburg, Pa. held in May.
PACE, a committee promoting learning and understanding about giftedness and finding ways to support gifted youngsters and their families, held its annual non-competitive science fair on March 31 where more and more students are participating each year. Starting six years ago, children from kindergarten and up were invited to participate in the fair and do research on anything that they wished, using the scientific method. Children who start young many times continue to participate in the science fair and eventually work their way up to the competitive Coriell Science Fair.
Another success in STEM, the WAMS MathCounts team, coached by WAMS math teachers Allison Longmuir and Tara Kortman, took first place in the regional MathCounts competition for the third year in a row. It was held on Saturday, Feb. 7 at Ocean County College in Toms River. Ten teams and 65 individuals competed from both Ocean and Burlington counties.
William Allen Middle School dominated the individual round, claiming five out of the top 10 individual places. Among the top 10 were John Borton (second), Rishab Ayyapath (fourth), Josh Tsai (fifth), Greg Bauman (sixth) and Dipro Ray (seventh). Borton and Ayyapath will proceed to the state level as individuals. As a team representing William Allen Middle School and Burlington/Ocean County in the team competition, Borton, accompanied by teammates Ray, Tsai and Bauman, competed in the state MathCounts competition on March 14 at Rutgers University. They did not win, however, they still did quite well at states.