09/19/14 5:00am
09/19/2014 5:00 AM

Andrew Hubner of Shoreham-Wading River High School, physics teacher Andrew Kolchin, Asia McElroy from Riverhead High School and former Riverhead High School student Phil Becker of Bay Shore do some experiments with Newtown's Cradle Friday at BOCES' new Regional STEM high school in Bellport. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Andrew Hubner of Shoreham-Wading River High School, physics teacher Andrew Kolchin, Asia McElroy from Riverhead High School and former Riverhead High School student Phil Becker of Bay Shore do some experiments with Newton’s Cradle Friday at BOCES’ new Regional STEM high school in Bellport. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Any regular consumer of news beyond the local level won’t find it shocking to hear that the United States has fallen behind many other developed countries in science and technology achievement.  (more…)

05/07/14 10:00am
05/07/2014 10:00 AM

The video posted online starts simply, with Oysterponds students standing in front of large containers while the disembodied voice of a teacher explains the instructions, or lack thereof.

“Each group is going to get one tub, and … well … all I’m going to say is that hose is gonna supply water when I turn it on,” the voice says. A hand points to dishwashing liquid and straws. The goal is simple: make the biggest bubble. (more…)

12/04/13 4:00pm
12/04/2013 4:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO

COURTESY PHOTO

Eastern Suffolk BOCES has launched a new department that aims to better prepare students for the future and will also open a regional high school in Bellport which students interested in studying the sciences can attend starting next school year.

The Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, known as “The Academy,” is a “transformation” of the career and technical education department at ESBOCES, officials said in a press release issued Tuesday. Its programs are offered to more than 1,700 students in 51 school districts and is designed to help students with college and career preparation and readiness, officials said.

Engineering, advanced manufacturing and veterinary technician courses have been added to next year’s class offerings. ESBOCES currently offers more than 30 classes in career trades and about 20 exploratory programs for students in grades 8 through 10 during the summer months.

The Academy’s programs are offered at the Brookhaven Technical Center in Bellport, the Edward J. Milliken Technical Center in Oakdale, the H.B. Ward Technical Center in Riverhead, and the Suffolk Aviation Center in Shirley.

In addition to launching The Academy, ESBOCES will also open its new STEM-based high school at its Bellport campus next school year that will have a concentration on engineering and applied science. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The school also is partnering with SUNY Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Labs, as well as the Long Island Matrix of Science and Technology and the Long Island STEM Hub, to develop the high school curriculum.

Last year, ESBOCES commissioned a 25-member task force to draft new programing that would meet the needs of high school students preparing for college or careers.

“We listened to students and parents and believe a newly-focused college, career and technical education-based curriculum will fill a void that has been missing in Suffolk County,” said Julie Lutz, ESBOCES deputy superintendent of educational services. “The ultimate goal is to close the gap between rigorous, relevant, STEM-based skills now necessary for success in college and the traditional academic coursework that is currently being offered at the high school level.”

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02/16/13 12:00pm
02/16/2013 12:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Greenport High School students Chris Sponza (left) and Chris Rabig with the submersible robot they built.

There’s an underwater robot quietly lurking around the Greenport School.

Through a remote control, the three-motor machine maneuvers in all directions and could be used for surveillance or to repair other machines remotely.

The final functions of the submarine-like device won’t be decided by professional scientists, however. Two Greenport High School juniors, Chris Rabig and Chris Sponza, have been tasked with creating a waterproof robot with the support of the school’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics program, known as STEM, and the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“The soldering was a little difficult, but it wasn’t too complicated to put together,” Chris Rabig said as the submerged machine responded to his commands.

“We decided to use PVC pipes and added a weight to balance it,” Chris Sponza added.

Eventually, the students will paint the machine “Porter purple,” the school’s color, and are thinking about adding a waterproof camera.

The students worked on the project for eight weeks after the school received a $650 grant from the Office of Naval Research. The grant package included building materials and a tool kit.

Maj. William Grigonis, the senior naval science instructor for the Southold-Mattituck-Greenport NJROTC, said the districts are all in the process of completing their projects and will compete against each other later this year.

“What’s nice about the three schools is there’s the camaraderie, then there’s the competition,” Maj. Grigonis said. “When people think ROTC they think it’s a military program, but it’s not. ROTC is a citizenship development program and what we try to do here is prepare kids for college or the next level of where they’re going.”

Greenport High School principal Leonard Skuggevik said he was amazed by how smoothly the students’ machine maneuvers under water and believes the experience will give them a head start when they take physics next year.

“What happens if you put it in salt water?” he asked the students.

“It floats more,” they answered.

In addition to their naval project, the two students are part of the Air Force’s CyberPatriot Team. Both will try to uncover vulnerabilities in an Air Force’s computer system and hack into it.

Mr. Skuggevik said these types of projects enhance the school’s STEM program because students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to solve a problem on their own.

“It definitely takes science to the next level,” the principal said. “Once they become interested, they’ll start to use their imaginations to figure out what else they can do.”

Maj. Grigonis said his goal is to “bring what they’re teaching upstairs to the ROTC world.”

“There’s more than just the classroom,” he said. “A kid can learn more building this than they’ll ever learn just looking at a slide show or reading a book.”

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02/16/13 10:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Greenport sixth-grader Ivan Tapia was inspired to build this penny-fed candy machine out of Legos after taking a technology course this year.

As Greenport sixth-grader Ivan Tapia worked on a picnic table project in his technology class earlier this year, he didn’t know it would inspire him to become a builder.

After he completed his school project, Ivan borrowed his friend’s Legos to construct other things. He then purchased his own set of the building blocks and created a candy machine that offers a Skittle for a penny.

As he demonstrated his machine to a group of teachers, he pushed in a penny and a lever released one of the bright-colored candies.

“Tech class was fun and it got me into building things,” Ivan said. His next independent project is to make a soda machine out of Legos to hold eight cans.

Greenport Elementary School principal Joe Tsaveras said this is the first year that sixth graders are taking technology and home economics classes, which have previously been first offered when students enter seventh grade.

The change is part of the district’s decision to immerse students in the science, technology, engineering and math program, known as STEM, at an earlier age. The goal is to encourage students to become thinkers outside the classroom.

“This is a great example of how one of our students was able to take what he’s learned and create something on his own,” Mr. Tsaveras said of Ivan’s work.

The elementary school has also enhanced its curriculum by adding components of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The common core standards are a new set of national benchmarks to help public school students master language arts and mathematics. It requires instructors to teach more non-fiction and rigorous math to students at a younger age. The move aims to better prepare students for college and careers.

Mr. Tsaveras said the school recently added Making Meaning and Being a Writer, two new comprehensive reading and writing programs aligned with common core standards.

Teachers are also evaluating new instructional lesson plans, called modules, that the state education department offers as a guide to the common core standards. The lessons are available online at engageny.org.

Second-grade teacher Leslee Cristinao said she’s looking into incorporating the state’s fairy tales module into her classroom because she believes it will be a nice supplement to her existing instruction on the subject.

Fourth-grade teacher Elizabeth Burns said this is the second year students are using a new program called Go Math. Also aligned with common core standards, the program has an interactive component that works with the school’s Smart Boards. She’s also currently integrating the state’s colonial history module into her classroom.

“It involves a lot of deep reading and rigorous vocabulary,” Ms. Burns said. “We’re taking the time to deconstruct it for students.”

To make sure students don’t fall behind as tougher programs are implemented, the district is offering new types of support for teachers and students.

Teachers are creating “individual differentiated instruction” as each student’s learning ability is identified, Mr. Tsaveras said. Teachers receive support for providing one-on-one instruction through the district’s Response To Intervention, or RTI, program, a new state-mandated effort that last year replaced the school’s Reading First program.

In addition to providing more individualized instruction, Mr. Tsaveras said, RTI helps teachers create two student groups. Students in one concentrate on overall classroom instruction. Students in the other get more instruction tailored to their individual needs.

Ms. Cristinao and Ms. Burns said they’ve come up with new ways of challenging their students thanks to the district’s new professional development opportunity, called What I Need, or WIN. To develop in-class solutions to meet each student’s needs, teachers across grade levels meet before and after school, as well as on weekends, to discuss ideas and collaborate on lesson plans. Instructors from each grade level also meet once a month to come up with ways of enhancing teaching techniques.

“Being such a small school, we’re pretty tightknit anyway and we know all of the children,” Ms. Cristinao said. “We don’t suffer in silence. We support each other.”

Mr. Tsaveras said the support structure will help his staff cope with recent changes to the state’s student assessment and teacher evaluation processes. He believes the ongoing collaboration among his teachers will also help them quickly identify a struggling student.

“This is the best staff I have ever worked with,” he said. “They are extremely focused, caring and dedicated.”

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01/22/13 11:17am
01/22/2013 11:17 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO |

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | State Senator Ken LaValle has proposed creating a regional high school that focuses on STEM curriculum.

State Senator Ken LaValle has proposed legislation to create a new regional high school that will focus on the science, technology, engineering and math program known as STEM.

According to a press release issued by Mr. LaValle’s office Tuesday, the Suffolk School of Math, Science & Engineering Regional Technology Institute will provide STEM instruction to students in grades 9th through 12th at both Eastern and Western Suffolk BOCES facilities.

Mr. LaValle said in statement that the goal of the new school is to “expand learning opportunities for students and foster the development and advancement of emerging technologies.”

“I want to encourage students to pursue careers in math and science by introducing them to these subject areas in ways they may not otherwise be exposed to,” Mr. LaValle said. “I believe science, technology, engineering and math are the foundation for future economic growth and job creation.”

The senator first proposed the legislation Jan. 9. The Higher Education Committee, which Mr. LaValle is the chairman, is currently reviewing the bill.

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