School Com. presentations on high school and STEM | News

WILMINGTON — The School Committee heard updates from their high school representatives and K-5 STEM coordinator at their meeting on Wed­nes­day, April 26.

Maddie Benoit from Wilmington High School and Audrey LaConte, who represent the high school, listed recent events at Wilmington. Among these were junior prom, Yarn Club’s return, a Garden Club fundraiser, and a Spanish field trip. One highlighted event was a Germany field trip which was attended by 111 students and staff where they visited Munich, Nurem­burg, and Dresden.

Also mentioned were MCAS and AP tests, a Career Fair, an ice-cream social in the W2 block and the Pops Concert. They also spoke about the game Senior Assassin which involves seniors squirting each other with water pistols. They also mentioned that Friday was the seniors’ last day of classes.

K-5 STEM Coordinator Mi­chelle Levesque presented on the implementation of STEM challenges and a K-8 STEM Fair held at the middle school on March 28.

She explained that their intention with STEM (Science, Tech­nology, Engineering, and Math) is to integrate it in an interdisciplinary approach. They incor­porate engineering, problem-solving, and design into curric­ulum for elementary students to get them familiar with things happening in the workplace and outside of the classroom.

She saw that this also brought benefits to the culture of her school and classroom, including inclusivity, community and resilience.

Some of the ways that they’ve done this have been by introducing K-5 district STEM challenges and elementary STEM bin libraries, and supporting classroom instruction. The chal­lenges are held on the last day before December, February, and April breaks.

Each classroom receives the supplies, a slideshow, and in­structions. The level of difficulty varies by grade. The STEM bin libraries, funded by a Wilmington Educational Foundation grant, include materials for 20 age-appropriate ac­tivities per building.

She suggested that they could be used to assist students with specific skills or for those who finish their work early.

The STEM Fair is an­other initiative as part of the introduction of STEM, which was supported by WEF. The STEM Fair was a huge success, with over 400 students and their families attending on March 28. This far exceeded the expectations of WEF. Levesque expressed his gratitude to the students and staff who volunteered their time to run the stations, as well as the community partners that helped put on the fair.

They presented stations showing a 3-D printer, ba­lancing bird, code-n-go mice, connect the dots, lava lamps, layers of the earth, owl pellets, rain cloud in a jar, and other science and technology experiments.

Mike Mercaldi inquired about the future vision of integrating STEM. Levesque answer­ed that she’d like to see the district add a STEM specialist or an elementary STEM teacher to help spread STEM concepts more consistently.

David Ragsdale questioned how these initiatives relate to the K-5 Science Curriculum. Levesque said that she’s been working with Amy Iascone to get hands-on lab experiences into the curriculum. She said currently that science and STEM are treat­ed separately but they’re hoping to find more ways to overlap.

Jesse Fennelly commented anecdotally that the STEM Fair was great, and he could see the Ro­botics team making an impact. LaConte commen­ted with a similar sentiment.

Assistant Superinten­dent Christine Elliott shared that Levesque did excellent work so far in­corporating STEM at the elementary level. She said this would have a great impact as the elementary students will now be able to enter the higher grades with perseverance and foundational skills.

On the next item of the agenda, members of the committee gave a sneak preview of their new roles. This was the first meeting after the annual town election, with newly elected member Mike Mercaldi voted into the seat previously occupied by Melissa Plow­man.

The chair Dr. Jenn Brryson stated that everyone would be able to see what is available and make their shifts for the next meeting.

Ragsdale clarified that Mercaldi didn’t have to take all of Plowman’s pre­vious committees. Bry­son added that they all share responsibility and no one person should feel overloaded.

LaConte asked them to identify which subcommittees were open to students.

Mercaldi said he’d like to learn more about the commitment for each subcommittee and digest the options before he de­cides.

The night was not a subcommittee report, but they did mention the Wildcat Band grades 4-12 performance on the 2nd of May and the Strings attached grades 6-12 performance the following day.

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