Parks and Rec. gets on hands-on with STEM

By Amy Filippone, Dept. of Parks & Recreation

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The Moorestown Parks & Recreation Department will be offering STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) classes beginning in January for a range of ages. STEM is a growing and important discipline for children. It is a broad category that encompasses every aspect of life from robotics to fashion or graphic design. These are great starter classes for kindergarteners to sixth graders. Children will work in teams and individually. No prior knowledge is needed, just an interest in learning how to navigate the future. All materials, including laptops, will be provided.

These classes are designed to be hands on and fun. As Dr. Dinesh Sharma of STEAM Works explains.

“What we’re trying to do is keep kids away from screen time,” Sharma said. “Our focus is targeted towards getting kids to build things with their hands. So it’s kind of a maker’s lab where kids are engaged in actually building things like robotic objects or circuits. Almost 80 [to] 90 percent of the work is hands on building and 10 [to] 20 percent is coding or programming. That’s really the main focus for the courses that we’re offering.”

Virtual Reality Reality is for grades three to six and runs from Jan. 18 to Feb. 22 from noon to 2 p.m. Oculus Rift is a hardware platform which consists of a headset and earphones that allow people to experience virtual reality. Attendees can learn how to use the Unity game engine and tackle the unique design challenges that arise when building for Virtual Reality.

Nano Bots is for kindergarten through third grade and runs from Jan. 17 to Feb. 21 on Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. LEGO based kits will be used to learn what Robotic Systems are capable of as well as sensors (utilize motion, distance, tilt) and basic programming with an easy to use drag and drop program. The projects range in theme from the animal kingdom, soccer playing robots to racing cars.

Scratch coding is for grades three to five and runs from Jan. 17 to Feb. 21 on Fridays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Kids will learn to create their own computer games and animations with SCRATCH, developed by MIT. This drag and drop program helps young kids to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. 

3D printing is for grades three to five and runs from Jan. 17 to Feb. 21 on Fridays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Kids will learn step by step how to use Google Sketch Up to create simple and fun CAD projects. Anything they can design, they can print in 3D. Students will turn their own imagination into plastic reality and take home whatever they print.

LEGO EV3 is for grades five to eight and runs from Jan.17 to Feb. 22 on Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. With “LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3,” kids can create their own robotic creatures, vehicles, machines and inventions. Kids will be hands-on and only limited by their imagination.

While these classes are fun, they also lay the groundwork for a more impactful and tangible outcome. 

“The application of a lot of these tools and engineering devices and robotic kits is to improve lives,” Sharma said. “Whether it’s automation or better systems of communication that makes peoples lives easier, like making delivery of medicine safer using robotics or using drones in surveying land for climate issues. These technologies are used to make peoples lives better.”

For more details and to sign up please go to


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