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Summer STEAM Program inspires youth to learn in summer


Photo by Anthony Spaulding/Pope John XXIII Regional High School — Students and staff pose for a group picture at the
playground during Wednesday's session of the 2017 Summer STEAM Program at Reverend George A. Brown Memorial School
in Sparta. 

Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School

SPARTA — Children normally want to spend their summers relaxing, playing outside and having fun.

The last thing on their minds is going back to school, sitting in a classroom and learning.

However, the Rev. George A. Brown Memorial School’s 2017 Summer STEAM Program has changed their mindset.

For the past three weeks, the school has taught children from kindergarten through fifth grade a wide variety of topics that they can not only apply to their everyday lives, but also have fun while learning.

“It’s been very successful and we are having a lot fun,” Reverend Brown principal Patricia Klebez said Wednesday. “This is our time to encourage and inspire kids to fall in love with learning. “

The STEAM program is in its first year of existence and it teaches students hands-on classes in art, engineering, literature, mathematics, science, sports and technology over the course of four weeks. Each course is 44 minutes in length and designed to challenge students at their specific age and grade levels. Classes run on a five-period rotating schedule with three minutes of passing time.

The final week of the program goes from July 31-Aug. 4 and runs each day from 8 a.m. to noon. Klebez created the program in the spring to give students a chance to continue their education beyond the 10-month school year.

“We want to be that nurturing, loving environment and we want the students to love to be here during the school year and in the summer,” Klebez said. “Any kind of eight or 10-week hiatus in learning makes it hard for you to relearn anything, so we want to keep them fresh and help keep them learning.”

In the first week from July 10-13, students learned how to design perpetual motion turbines and obstacle courses. Students also made digital scrapbooks, created landscape paintings and explored the world of digital photography, but they got a kick out of the obstacle course because it was inspired by the hit television series, American Ninja Warrior.

“As engineers and mathematicians, they had to design the course themselves, then they had to actually go through it,” Klebez said. “It was really cool to see.”

In the second week from July 17-20, students built bridges, learned sports statistics through science and created paintings inspired by artists such as Van Gogh and Monet, and organic gardening. Reverend Brown school counselor Kevin McDermott, who taught the students sports statistics, thought the students had a blast because they got to go into the gym, play basketball and put their stats from the game on a personalized card.

“It’s excellent,” McDermott said. “Being able to tell them, ‘Hey, these are some things you guys may like, but you never really knew there is science, math and technology involved here.’ They can walk away knowing that the next time they are possibly bored in science class or in math class, they can think about what I learned this summer and connect it to the things that I do love.”

The third week, which finishes on Thursday, has students performing simple science experiments such as parachutes and ball launchers through a Young Engineers course, play sports through a Summer Olympics course, and watch movies and build storyboards through a film and television course. They also did a Book a Trip course, which allows them to explore particular books in-depth and do activities based on the book.

Mrs. Trish Quinn, who teaches the Young Engineers course, felt the students took a lot of lessons away from all the activities they have done in her class.

“It’s great to have hands-on courses like this,” Quinn said. “This will help them remember next year when they go into labs in science class how to design an experiment, think about it and how to make it work.”

By going through all these courses, students such as incoming fifth grader Katie Klebez and incoming fourth grader Ethan Poplawski have come away from this program happy that they have a new place to spend their time in the summer.

“It’s been great,” Klebez said. “All of the activities have been enjoyable and fun.”

“It’s been a lot of fun to be at this school,” Poplawski said. “It’s a great place to learn, make friends and play.”

NOTES: Space is still available for the final week of the STEAM program. Walk-in registrations will be accepted, starting at 7:30 a.m. Monday. Cost is $220 per child for the week. Reverend Brown and non-Reverend Brown students are welcome to attend the program. Reverend Brown students receive a 10 percent discount if they bring a non-RB friend.

Below are the registration form, the medical form and the program overview documents for parents and prospective students to review.

Program Overview
Registration Form
Medical Form

Also for more pictures, check out Pope John's Instagram account @popejohnlions