Our Lady of Perpetual Help
School Team of the Month - February 2017
What are you focusing your STEM Impact Plan work on for the coming year?
The focus of our STEM Impact Plan is currently being revised to include the design and construction of our new STEMand Science labs. With the blessing of a generous donation from Shea Family Charities of $1.25 million to fund this exciting project, our Impact Plan goal to attain excitement and support of our STEM program is exceeding our original expectations for the year. Shea Family Charities has taken a special interest in our school, and the steps we are taking to achieve equity in our STEM education for our diverse student body. The financial support for this project is a direct result of our involvement in the Trustey Family STEM Teaching Fellows, and we are so grateful for this amazing opportunity.Thus far, designing our STEM and Science labs has been an exciting experience filled with research, meetings with architects and invaluable input from local businesses, other STEM schools, and our ND mentors! As we move toward this groundbreaking step at our school, with the support of the Diocesan Offices of Catholic Schools and of Construction and Real Estate, we are continuing to educate our parents and community about the importance of STEM education.
What exciting STEM experiences have happened at your school so far this year?
Shannon and Stephanie brought an enthusiasm for STEM in our middle school by immediately engaging the students in various STEM activities. We explored the properties of buoyancy with aluminum boats, created topographical maps of cardboard hills designing walkable paths to the summit, and applied the concepts of range, mean, median, and mode to engineer Oreo wedding cakes.
To encourage our parents to embrace our program, we hosted our first annual STEMDay in November. We chose to have it in conjunction with our annual Thanksgiving Feast, which is attended by all of the families in the school, ensuring the greatest opportunity for participation. The families enjoyed engaging in STEM projects and experiences that were available at booths led by our OLPH Tech Club, a group of 22 seventh- and eighth-graders who meet weekly after school. They led the parents and grandparents through STEM experiences that included a “human piano” and a “musical dance floor” using a Makey Makey board, building cantilevers and learning about kinetic and potential energy with “The Cup Challenge.” This was the first opportunity for our parents to engage with their students' newfound excitement for STEM!
In what ways have you been able to engage other members of your school, local community, or other STEM Teaching Fellows?
Upon our return from South Bend, we met with our city’s Mayor and several of his staff to inform them about our exciting new program and relationship with Notre Dame. Through this meeting we have gained a relationship with the STEMCoordinator for the Riverside County Office of Education, and are now invited to attend all STEM meetings and professional development opportunities the county provides. Recently we were contacted by the Mayor’s office to be included in a database of STEM schools in the City of Riverside.
As the STEM Integration Specialist, Lynn has mentored our elementary teachers who did not have experience with our new STEM program. With her guidance and modeling, teachers were able to take an active role in delivering a STEM lesson without the pressure of having to create a lesson. Thanks to this, our faculty has gained an enthusiastic desire to continue integrating STEM lessons on their own. They have begun to integrate STEM based projects into their curriculum, have introduced the engineering design process, and are beginning to bring real world applications to their lessons.
Finally, we have partnered with several community members to bring innovative STEM lessons to our students. This partnership includes a lesson with the Riverside Police Department in learning the forensics of accident investigation through the analysis of skid marks.