Sackets Harbor school hosts STEM night
Daily Times. Miranda Materazzo. April 12, 2018.
Science, technology, engineering, and math came to the Sackets Harbor Central School Wednesday for the school’s STEM Dinner Night.

Three dozen students in kindergarten through eighth grade were invited to have pizza with their peers and explore tenets of the STEM field.

In the cafeteria, physics teacher Daniel Truax showed students how to magnetize a special kind of putty using iron filings. His colleague Ryan Tastor, the school’s counselor, had helped organize the STEM night with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.

“It’s neat to see the students be so curious and excited about STEM,” said Mr. Tastor. Sackets Harbor is one of six rural north country schools to be part of the Rural Initiative for STEM Excellence consortium. The group was awarded a total of $2.9 million in 2013 to introduce classes like coding and engineering into rural school curriculums.

Students got to see coding at work when they used a new kind of drone Wednesday night in the school gym.

“The drone comes with a free app they can download,” Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program educator Sabrina Dreythaler. “From there they can write the code to control the drone on their phone.”

Along with STEM programs like the ones brought to Sackets Wednesday, CCE also provides financial aid help and budget management programs to partner schools.

The RISE grant’s financial educator and CCE employee Christi L. Carter said that both components had, in her mind, made the grant a success. She attended Wednesday’s event to help explain how her role would continue after the grant formally ended in the summer.

“This grant really has been wonderful overall,” Mrs. Carter said, “we’ve been able to provide the Mad City Money program to all the schools in the RISE group and bring them STEM events like this.”

The RISE grant was also able to provide participating schools with Maker Space items. Sackets students could use theirs in the library Wednesday night.

The Sackets Maker Space included items like K’Nex, Ozobot coding robots, circuit boards, and knitting. Eight-grader Kristina Donders was using the knitting loom.

She said she had first learned to knit at home, but was able to improve her skills on the loom in the Maker Space.

“I like to use the circuit boards, too,” Kristina said. “I use them a lot in my sixth period study halls.”

The RISE Grant was awarded to the Alexandria, Belleville-Henderson, Copenhagen, LaFargeville, Lyme, and Sackets Harbor schools in 2013 by the Department of Defense.

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