HomeMoorestown NewsRoberts elementary school celebrates STEM

Roberts elementary school celebrates STEM

Students experience hands-on experiments and presentations.

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: Students at Moorestown’s Mary E. Roberts Elementary School create water gel experiments as part of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Week on April 7.

Moorestown’s Mary E. Roberts Elementary School hosted its annual STEM Week early this month with presentations and experiential learning for students.

Initially started as a one-day event in 1996, the program was expanded by first grade teacher Rosemary Anderson into a weeklong celebration for fields of study including paleontology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, marine biology, architecture, psychology and surgical medicine. 

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Anderson explained the origin of STEM ((Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Week and how she combined new and previous presenters.

“It started off as just a science experience for kids at the elementary (schools), and they would have community members come in and explain their scientific job to the kids and give them hands-on experiences,” Anderson explained.

“I would send out a form to parents in the community, and then I would keep all the old emails of old(er) presenters and request that they come in and talk about their area of science and their field of expertise and give the kids a window into careers that they could have,” she added.

Since its launch year in 2020, STEM Week has been virtual due to the pandemic. Anderson explained how the event was set to take place around the same time schools started shutting down.

“That week was supposed to be an in-person week, and because it didn’t work out that way, we kind of scrambled,” she noted. “I made a YouTube video in front of my green screen in my dining room and did my presentation, where every morning I would go down the lineup and talk through it.”

Presenters included Dr. Sharon Perrone, who specializes in pedology (soil); Dr. Mike Barnes, who specializes in dentistry; Dr. Lisa Levine, whose specialty is prenatal medicine; and Dr. Peter Galie, whose specialty in biomedical engineering. They spoke to students in kindergarten through third grade and showed them how to perform experiments. 

Assemblies funded by a T-shirt drive the school holds in conjunction with STEM Week featured the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University, Duke Farms, science explorers and others.

“Every year, we’ve done a shirt sale: long-sleeved shirts, hoodies,” Anderson said. “This year, I was shocked at how many assemblies we were able to put out for the kids.”

Anderson looks forward to seeing students engage with each other face to face again.

“Because it’s one presentation, even if it’s a (student) in my class’ parent, everyone in the grade level can kind of Zoom in, and I’ve even been able to have other grade levels Zoom in, so there’s been some benefits,” she said of STEM Week being virtual.

“But I can’t wait to put in-person and virtual hand in hand next year.”

Dr. Anne Marie Inglis, who specializes in pharmaceuticals, conducted five experiments for first graders on April 7 that included making magic sand, water gel and insta-snow. Volunteers were on hand to help Anderson with setup and cleanup. 

Anderson praised the efforts of volunteers and teachers who help make the week extra special.

“The staff are really committed to making it be something positive for the kids, and I want people in the community to know that we’re out here trying to get kids involved in science,” she noted.

“I think this is a good way to make people remember that we’re all here doing everything we can, and it’s not about us. It’s about the kids.”

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