Silas Wood Revolutionizing With STEM

And a new chapter begins.
And a new chapter begins.
Silas Wood Principal Steve Toto welcomes the audience.
Silas Wood Principal Steve Toto welcomes the audience.
Superintendent Dave Bennardo provides opening remarks before introducing Ms. Jacqueline Harris.
Superintendent Dave Bennardo provides opening remarks before introducing Ms. Jacqueline Harris.
Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Harris talks about the importance of a rigorous curriculum.
Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Harris talks about the importance of a rigorous curriculum.
Dr. Jared Bloom conversing with the NAO Robot.
Dr. Jared Bloom conversing with the NAO Robot.
Silas Wood teacher, Ms Marijean Scardapane introduces the Flame Project.
Silas Wood teacher, Ms Marijean Scardapane introduces the Flame Project.
Silas Wood Band Director Ron Stanton set a celebratory mood with his talented musicians.
Silas Wood Band Director Ron Stanton set a celebratory mood with his talented musicians.
Left to right: South Huntington BOE Vice President Nicholas R. Ciappetta, the robot NAO, BOE Member Laura B. Carey, and NY State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci.
Left to right: South Huntington BOE Vice President Nicholas R. Ciappetta, the robot NAO, BOE Member Laura B. Carey, and NY State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci.
Cheryl Davison, North Shore LIJ, Director, Workforce Readiness, and Mr. Ken White, Manager of Brookhaven Lab’s Office of Educational Programs are the stewards behind the LI STEM Hub.
Cheryl Davison, North Shore LIJ, Director, Workforce Readiness, and Mr. Ken White, Manager of Brookhaven Lab’s Office of Educational Programs are the stewards behind the LI STEM Hub.
Students who have an interest in a career in the medical field have already committed to exploring STEM curriculum.
Students who have an interest in a career in the medical field have already committed to exploring STEM curriculum.

This past Friday afternoon, Silas Wood Sixth-Grade Center was officially named as Long Island’s first Middle School STEM Career Academy.  This special designation, bestowed by the prestigious Long Island STEM Hub, is a fitting tribute to the creativity and instructional innovation taking place at the Sixth-Grade Center. 

Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony served as the official recognition of the college and career activities being infused into Silas Wood’s vibrant instructional program. “The partnerships created through this Career Academy designation will enhance student learning by stressing real world connections to the rigorous curriculum material,” said Superintendent Dave Bennardo in his opening remarks.

Students wearing lab coats donated by North Shore-LIJ Health System, who have an interest in a career in the medical field and have already committed to exploring the STEM curriculum, were joined by the rest of their classmates, teachers, and school officials in the Silas Wood gymnasium. Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland and Councilman Mark Mayoka were on hand to offer congratulatory remarks, and New York State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci applauded the district’s efforts. “Silas Wood is providing its students with an exceptional educational experience and preparation for the future,” said Assemblyman Lupinacci. “Jobs in STEM-related fields are expanding at a rapid rate, and providing students with the tools to succeed in this critical environment is essential. Most importantly, the partnership between Silas Wood, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the North Shore-LIJ Health System ensures that the school’s curriculum will lead to success down the road for these hard-working and dedicated students.”

Deputy Superintendent Ms. Jacqueline Harris, whom Superintendent Bennardo credited with putting the program together, spoke about the “three Rs” that make the STEM program crucial in today’s educational environment. “Three new components to reading, writing, and arithmetic are associated with STEM,” said Ms. Harris. “A rigorous curriculum is our first component. Relevance is the second new addition; it needs to relate to our daily lives. And third, we need to have relationships, partners who can help us along this journey. We have this with the LI STEM Hub.” The Silas Wood Career Academy will introduce and engage all of its sixth-grade students in STEM initiates. As the students progress through the higher grades, they will be able to further their STEM-centered learning, better preparing them for college and careers.

Silas Wood teacher Ms. Marijean Scardapane has been working with her students on the Flame Challenge, a global conversation about science, taking place at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. This year they were presented with several videos that attempt to explain “What Time is.” After thorough discussion and analysis, students voted on which entry best answers the question. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the audience watched each of the three short videos and voted on their favorites.

The audience heard from Scott Cooper, Vice President of Human Resources, North Shore LIJ, about the relevance of STEM to the future workforce. Also from the health system was Cheryl Davison, North Shore LIJ Director, Workforce Readiness. Mr. Ken White, Manager of Brookhaven Lab’s Office of Educational Programs, also spoke, calling Silas Wood a model for others on Long Island and the state to emulate.

One of the stars of the celebration was a robot named NAO, brought by representatives of Teq, a Huntington Station company that provides professional development for teachers through the use of technology.  Dr. Jared Bloom, the district’s Supervisor of Assessment and Technology, introduced NAO to the audience, and the robot immediately captured the students’ attention.

“We are all very proud of this wonderful honor and congratulate the faculty, staff, and administration for making the program a reality,” said Superintendent Bennardo in his weekly newsletter. “We also thank the Long Island STEM Hub and North Shore LIJ Hospital systems and Brookhaven National Labs for demonstrating such faith in our Silas Wood community.”