On March 22nd, the halls of Saint Patrick Catholic School were abuzz with the energy that only problem solving can generate. That day--the first ever STEM Day held at STPCS--found teachers leading different curriculum-supporting activities relating to land, water, or air at each grade level, allowing each student to participate in an authentic problem-based learning experience.  

Pre-K students helped Mr. Whittington keep Itsy-Bitsy Spider and his arachnid acquaintances out of the school’s downspouts by testing materials that blocked spiders but allowed water to flow freely. Kindergarten and First Grade students also had an activity drawing inspiration from the animal kingdom, learning about biomimicry in nature. Students used a variety of mediums (such as LEGO and Play-Doh) to create their example of a characteristic found in nature and adapted to helping humans.

In Second and Third Grades, students helped citizens of Chewandswallow--made famous by the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs--by developing houses that could withstand a storm of spaghetti and meatballs or a hurricane!

There was a whole lot of shaking going on in Fourth Grade as students learned about Earthquakes and how to detect/measure them using a seismograph. Fifth Grade was focused on the ground as well, creating compost bins--much like the one we have in our Little Sprouts Garden!

Sixth Graders hypothesized the best animal enclosure for a gorilla, researching the best way to make the animals a home away from home in case the Virginia Zoo wants to bring a new, large primate to town.  The sky was the limit for Seventh Grade students, as they were tasked with creating a bottle rocket that could fly straight and high. They used the back concrete pad as a launch pad and had a successful lift-off!  

Our oldest Wolfhounds’ activity mirrored something that Notre Dame STEM Fellows Ashley Costanza and Amber Seeley did while on campus in South Bend. Like Mrs. Costanza and Ms. Seeley before them, Eighth Grade students were tasked with developing a water filtration system to clean polluted water. 

In addition to the grade level activities, students got to participate in a sort of “STEM Showcase” with Wolfhound parents Stacie Ringleb and  Mark Shoenenburger providing students a hands-on opportunity with robotics, and a vertical wind tunnel. Additionally, Sarah Gorman spoke to students about her role as a nuclear engineer with submarines. Our guests were engaging and enlightening, demonstrating to students how STEM careers can run the gamut!

While the previous two STEM Nights held by the Notre Dame STEM Fellows were a success, it was nice to shift the event to the day so every student could participate. The energy on campus was amazing, and Mrs. Costanza and Ms. Seeley can’t wait to plan for a bigger and better event next year!