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St. Jerome’s celebrates National STEM Week

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    Sixth-grade students at St. Jerome Regional School, from left, Jonathan Derr, James Gomez, Quentin Petschauer, Maggie Homyak, Maggie Zeiler and Kaitlyn Kisenwether work on creating a path using color codes for the Ozobots to follow. For a video of an Ozobot in action, visit AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS

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    Laurie Daukshus, STEM teacher, looks through the new Padcaster at Maggie Zeiler, left, and Kaitlyn Kisenwether, who appear to be standing in front of the Hollywood sign.

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    An Ozobot navigates a line using color codes that tell it what it should do.

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    James Gomez lets an Ozobot go on the maze he created for it on paper.

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    Jonathan Derr looks at a chart of color codes that the Ozobot understands when creating his pattern for it.

Published November 08. 2019 12:52PM

St. Jerome Regional School is celebrating National STEM Week with over $30,000 worth of new hands-on products that will help students learn about everything from coding to broadcast journalism.

Each day this week, the school, located in Hometown, announced a new activity or product to its STEM Lab, including the purchase of 18 Ozobots, a new Smartboard, a Padcaster Studio with an iPad and green screen, and STEMscope subscriptions for students in sixth through eighth grades.

“There’s a lot of exciting things happening at St. Jerome Regional School, and STEM is definitely one of them,” said Principal Amy Hannis-Miskar. “Last school year, we added a designated STEM Lab to our regular rotation of special subject classes, and the kids have loved it.

“Thanks to grants like the one we received from Computer Aid the past two years, we have invested over $70,000 into our STEM program, and we hope to be able to add to that each year.”

Sixth-grade students showed off their coding skills with the Ozobots, which are small robots that use colored codes to speed up, slow down, turn and move, and were more than excited to play with the new toys while learning a valuable future employment skill.

Laurie Daukshus, STEM teacher at the school, introduced the Ozobots using simple paper and markers with a chart that shows students how to make the robots move.

Some students made mazes for the bots to follow, while others made peaks and valleys.

Eventually, students will learn how to also program these robots using one of 66 new iPads the school also purchased.

Daukshus said that the STEM curriculum is helping students connect with subjects that aren’t taught in regular classrooms normally.

At St. Jerome, the STEM curriculum is incorporated into the classrooms as an add-on to the other special classes it hosts.

In addition to Ozobots, the Smartboard and Padcaster, students have been learning STEM through other partnerships and activities, including through K’Nex kits such as a working grandfather clock and Ferris wheel, Lego Boost programming kit, and electronic circuit kits, just to name a few.

“It’s something that the kids are really interested in,” Hannis-Miskar said.

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