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last updated: Wed, Aug 13th, 2014

Students explore STEM in unique summer experience

Mount Olive students recently took part in a hands-on learning experience in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). They were flying drones and rockets, building inventions, learning survival skills, and programming robots in the district’s first science summer camp, Innovation Station, that ran from July 28 – August 8.

More than four hundred students in grades 1–8 participated in the eight offered courses. The interactive lessons were engaging and fun, and provided students with an extra boost of instruction in preparation for the 2014-2015 school year.

“Innovation Station was designed to excite students about science through a high quality experience provided at a low cost to parents,” said Dr. Larrie Reynolds, superintendent of schools. “Our goal was just to break even, not make a profit, and to provide a unique summer program for students that emphasizes skills that will be even more important for our society in the years to come.”

Based on the enthusiastic response of students, parents, and teachers, the summer program was a huge hit.

“We knew we were doing well when people called after the first day trying to get their children enrolled,“ said Valerie Moore, Innovation Station principal. “The word had gotten out that the camp was something special.”

The launching of a hands-on science camp for 400+ students was an arduous and complex task. It involved dozens of staff members in writing new lessons, planning field trips, coordinating transportation, arranging food service, and gathering hands-on learning tools.

“It was an amazing undertaking,” said Peter Hughes, director of curriculum, who helped develop the camp and coordinate the selection and purchase of new instructional materials and supplies. “When I received pallets of model airplanes and rocketry materials, the scope of the camp really sank in. We were doing something significant, something that simply doesn’t occur elsewhere.”

The activities

Innovation Station was divided into two levels, each with four courses.

First- and second-graders grew their own food in Seeds and Sprouts; explored the fundamentals of aviation and designed/flew their own kites; learned about inventions and created complex machines; and investigated spy and forensic science by actually working on fabricated “crimes” created specifically to test their hands-on science skills and powers of deduction.

Students in grades 3–8 had very different courses than the early elementary kids. These students flew drones and remote- controlled airplanes; built rockets that used air pressure, chemical reactions, and combustion; learned the basics of robot programming by working on humanoid robots and robotic cubes; and took field trips as part of the On the Trail course that taught wilderness survival skills.

A district-wide STEM focus

Innovation Station is just one of the projects created to help achieve the school district’s long-term goal of creating an immersive STEM experience at all grade levels. On the docket are new STEM courses in the middle school that begin in September and an expanded Innovation Station summer program. Two new high school STEM-related academies are also being discussed for the 2015-2016 school year.

Photos: At the top of the page, students prepare to launch a remote-controlled plane; middle, students program a humanoid robot; bottom, members of the Mount Olive Police Department assist students with forensics procedures


New principal named for Sandshore Elementary School

NicoleMusarra

Nicole Musarra has been named as the principal of Sandshore Elementary School. She replaces Robert Allen who retired in early July after seven years as principal.

Ms. Musarra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role. She has served as the instructional supervisor of the school system’s Tinc Road Elementary School for the past four years.

Ms. Musarra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role. She has served as the instructional supervisor of the school system’s Tinc Road Elementary School for the past four years.

Prior to joining Mount Olive, she was an assistant principal in Ogdensburg. Earlier in her career she taught middle school language arts and conducted professional development in the Paterson Public Schools for eight years.

 “I’m looking forward to continuing and building upon Sandshore’s standard of excellence,” Ms. Musarra said. “The staff there has a reputation for providing dynamic lessons and experiences for students that maximize their learning. I’m excited to be a part of the Sandshore family and to work with such a dedicated group of educators.” 

Ms. Musarra holds a bachelor’s degree from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from New Jersey City University. 

“Nicole will be a terrific building leader,” said Dr. Larrie Reynolds, Mount Olive’s superintendent of schools. “She’s hardworking, insightful, and detail-minded. She has a laser focus on providing each and every student with the best possible education. Sandshore students are in great hands.”

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Sandshore School
498 Sandshore Rd Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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Phone: 973.691.4003 Fax: 973.691.4027

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