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STEM Educational Programs at the James Hennigan K-8 School

Supergirls in Science STEM workshops

STEM Educational Programs at the James Hennigan 2021
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STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, describes an education policy within school curriculums that place these subjects at its core. While humanities subjects such as social studies and English teach students the soft skills they need to succeed, STEM subjects teach students the analytical tools they need while simultaneously building confidence and self-determination within themselves. sySTEMic flow has worked hard to implement a STEM-focused experimental curriculum at the James W. Hennigan school and, over the course of a month, facilitated four in-person STEM sessions taken for fourth and fifth-grade BIPOC girls and a panel event featuring Spanish speaking professionals to their 6th grade Bilingual emerging students.

The STEM sessions taught important math, science, and engineering concepts while simultaneously providing fun, hands-on experiences. Each experiment was carefully selected to provide a cohesive and optimal learning experience. Alongside each class session, students were provided with individual worksheets and handmade STEM kits to supplement experiential learning with classroom instruction. Several different experiments were conducted throughout the program.

The students grew crystals to explore chemical reactions and geology, created non-Newtonian fluids to learn about chemical bonds, explored forensic science for biology, and studied the amazing connection between math and magic. Each class session took place for 90 minutes and began with icebreakers such as fun games and introductions (i.e., word games and logic puzzles). Due to the diverse range of students, we taught was necessary for creating a comfortable class environment. The class then learned a mini-lecture about the concepts explored during the experiment. When growing crystals, the students learned about different states of matter and how crystals are formed. When making Oobleck, they learned about non-Newtonian fluids and more advanced material on the states of matter. And finally, during the forensics class, the students learned how chemistry, biology, and physics could be used to identify people by their fingerprints! Each class session then concluded with a reflection and several follow-up questions to solidify their knowledge during the lecture and main experiment.

Through feedback, sySTEMic flow learned that the students particularly enjoyed making crystals and Oobleck because of the surprising results. One student spoke about how she enjoyed predicting how the crystals will grow and the shape of their patterns. Another was surprised by how non-Newtonian fluids have both solids and liquids qualities. Each session built upon the students’ previous knowledge while teaching them more about how STEM could be applied to real-life experiences. For all of the sessions conducted throughout this program, 100% of students said they would recommend the program to a friend.

As shown in the way students learned how to apply what they learned in class to their real-life experiences, sySTEMic flow strongly believes in the importance of STEM instruction in the classroom for future success. Several of our students expressed interest in future STEM-based careers, such as being an astronaut or a scientist. Not only did learning about different STEM concepts give them the tools to help them succeed in future classes, but experiential learning also helped our students build confidence within

themselves while keeping their passions alive.

sySTEMic flow also hosted a STEM panel event for 20 6th-grade Bilingual Emerging students who met Latino professionals who shared their experience of overcoming language and cultural barriers and how that has played a pivotal role in their careers in the STEM field. We had Ana Standish, an Account Manager who moderated the event; Norelis Díaz Rodríguez, Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate; Trevor Standish, Software Director; and Edward Rivera, Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate. They transformed the atmosphere in the classroom where the youth opened up to exciting conversation and felt safe and encouraged in doing so. On that day, about twenty students walked out of the school feeling confident because they saw people like them in STEM.

Watch clips of the event:

sySTEMic flow and James W. Hennigan Partnership

sySTEMic flow and the James W. Hennigan school have partnered for the second time to bring STEM education to its scholars. Myriame Pierre, a teacher at the Hennigan, has sought to build this partnership with sySTEMic flow. She says, "Receiving the $2,000,00 grant from the Brown Rudnick Foundation means a lot. My scholars can participate in a rich and engaging science club without worrying about any financial constraints to learn. I am delighted to show the brilliance of my students as they partake in this program and display their talents."

sySTEMic flow aims to deliver educational opportunities to BIPOC students, mainly focusing on providing STEM education to BIPOC girls, to enhance their math knowledge and skills. Since 2019, the sySTEMic flow has engaged with 88 students in several of its programs and worked with 11 community partners to effectively deliver these programs. This work has expanded in four states, two countries (including the U.S.), and ten cities/towns. sySTEMic flow's holistic model goes beyond the classroom setting and invites socioemotional learning and opportunities to learn about various careers in the STEM industry.

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