Optics Program Launch: Lower School S.T.E.M.

Posted on June 14th, 2017 by ssorrentino

In collaboration with several of their corporate and collegiate partners, the Lower School S.T.E.M. teachers have developed and launched a comprehensive, Elementary Optics Program. Integrating the use of high-end components, students complete real-world optics labs, program digital and analog LEDs on microcontrollers, and so much more!






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Posted in: Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kid Kudos, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade

AC Students Presenting at Science Writing and Research Symposium April 28th

Posted on April 28th, 2017 by jpalomaki
AC students are presenting their research at the Science Writing and Research class’s research symposium on Friday, April 28th, 2017, and the event is open to the public. This is the culminating event for 3+ quarters of work. This class is a “post-AP” class that is all about students conducting their own independent, original research. They have:
  • formulated their own research questions
  • identified and recruited an expert advisor from AC or the community at large
  • researched current understanding and background on their topics
  • written a research proposal in which they designed their own experiments to test their hypotheses
  • conducted their research
  • performed their own statistical analyses to draw conclusions on their hypotheses.
  • written up their findings in the style of a peer-reviewed scientific journal (still in progress!)
  • created, revised, and refined the presentations
If you have the time Friday, the students would love to see you. Presentations will be taking place in rooms 101 and 105 of the Wegmans School of Nursing at SJFC. The schedule and a map are below.
Room Time Presenter Title
Nursing 101 800-825 Germaine Gu The Mathematical Model Behind Storable Votes and Quadratic Votes
Nursing 101 830-855 Nate Morse Frequency Conversion Crystal Designs for Improved Ultraviolet Power Balance on the 60-Beam OMEGA Laser
Nursing 101 855-905 Break
Nursing 101 905-930 Alivia Martin Spinal Deformities of the Equine Population in Relation to Weight
Nursing 101 935-1000 Nadia Linton Observations of Skeletal Traumas Made from Medieval Bladed Weapons
Nursing 101 10-1010 Break
Nursing 101 1010-1035 Luke Nicosia The Effects of Food Cues on Students’ Overall Performance and Attentiveness on Exams
Nursing 101 1040-1105 Dylan Dailor Does the Mind In the Eyes Test Work as a Predictor for Autism Spectrum Disorders?
Nursing 101 1105-1115 Break
Nursing 101 1115-1140 Leeore Intrator Pilot Study to Understand Focus and Creativity in the Brain Using EEG
Nursing 101 1145-1205 Cecilia Esterman Mixed Solvent Studies of Squaraines for Use in Organic Photovoltaics
Nursing 101 1215-100 Lunch
100-130 Attend opening of SJFC Event
Nursing 105 130-155 Mason Grimes Using an Evolutionary Program to Model Organic Population Evolution
Nursing 105 200-225 Jeremy Abbott Injection-based Electromagnetic Railgun: Theoretical Versus Actual Results

St. John Fisher College Map

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Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Sixth Grade Students Work for NASA

Posted on May 27th, 2016 by tparsons

This March, Allendale Columbia became a certified GLOBE* school. This is an international science and education program that provides access to participate in science experiments and projects to better understand the the global environment. Sixth grade students in Mrs. Parsons’s science class collected soil samples and measured the moisture content for NASA this spring. NASA launched its SMAP satellite in January 2015 to measure soil moisture to improve weather and climate prediction models, as well as better understand processes linking water, carbon, and energy cycles. The students’ data is used to calibrate and validate the measurements being taken from space.

20160422_085046MaryAdianLauren Jose

* The acronym GLOBE stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment. GLOBE is jointly sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of State.

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Posted in: Middle School, Sixth Grade

Programming Drone Aerial Navigation: Elementary S.T.E.M. Project-Based Learning Unit

Posted on May 16th, 2016 by ssorrentino

Drone Logo Image2

In a culminating event, young Allendale Columbia School students “stretched their wings” with programming drone aerial navigation as part of an Elementary S.T.E.M. PBL Unit. Project-Based Learning (PBL) entails a collaborative learning experience as students work in teams on long-term, multidisciplinary projects that are structured around real-world, relevant, and probing questions. Collaboratively facilitated by their S.T.E.M. and homeroom teachers, fourth and fifth grade students at Allendale Columbia School have been participating in this joint PBL Unit since the beginning of the school year.

This was an amazing teaching and learning experience for everyone, and we invite you to peruse the steps along our PBL journey as portrayed in the images below…

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Posted in: Fifth Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School

Designing, Programming, and 3D-Printing in 3rd Grade S.T.E.M. Class

Posted on April 12th, 2016 by ssorrentino


3D Printing_1_orig

Unit background PRIOR to 3D-printing original designs in 3rd grade S.T.E.M. Class…

Throughout their Sound Unit, aptly named The Sound of Music, our 3rd Grade S.T.E.M. students focused on how sound works and how physical environments and culture play an important role on the specific materials used to create musical instruments. To introduce this part of the unit, the students participated in various station activities centered on the percussion, string, and woodwind families of musical instruments. Each station activity compared and contrasted different types of materials used to create the instruments. For example, does pitch change if an instrument is filled with one type of material versus another? What happens when different materials (wire, rope, cord) are used for transmitting sound waves? Students learned even more from our visiting musicians Dr. Keith Jones, Mr. Artie Cruz, and Mr. Gabe Costanzo who each demonstrated and played some of the lesser known instruments from various countries, including: Didgeridoo, Harmonium, Theramin, Guzheng, and more! Visit STEMspotlight to view more photos and videos of these classroom learning experiences.


Back to 3D-printing original designs in 3rd grade S.T.E.M. Class…

For their Sound Unit final project, our 3rd grade S.T.E.M. students each devised their own story behind an imaginary discovery of an ancient musical instrument. Students documented details on the location of this discovery, the history and culture of the imagined community, as well as the general design and function of their musical instrument. Culminating this writing activity, the remaining Sound Unit classes resumed in the new Design & Innovation Lab housing the school’s 3D-printers. In the lab, students continued with further designing their “ancient musical instruments” by initially sketching and then diagramming, scaling, and providing specific measurements to be programmed using Tinkercad.

To get started on the next phase of this project, the students were provided class instruction on using the computer-aided design (CAD) programming software under the direction of the Lower School S.T.E.M. Team and in collaboration with Middle School Hybrid Learning Coordinator, Mr. Tony Tepedino. Students quickly grasped the programming concepts, were highly engaged with seeing their original designs evolve into actual CAD models, and did a great job with also assisting their classmates with design and programming suggestions.

Mr. Tepedino also demonstrated and explained the 3D-printing process as well as the design implications with ensuring structural integrity in the final, 3D-printed projects. Most exciting of all, our S.T.E.M. students were thrilled with the physical models they first imagined, then designed, programmed, and successfully 3D-printed!

3D Printing_1

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3D Printing_3

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Posted in: Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, Third Grade

4th Grade S.T.E.M. Students Initiate Exciting School Partnership with Vortex Bladeless

Posted on March 23rd, 2016 by ssorrentino


For a following Project-Based Learning (PBL) unit of study, student teams of four began extensive research to identify a specific global problem to solve as active participants in the 2016 DuPont Challenge.

Revisiting their learning about wind power, one team of students discovered how dangerous wind turbines are for wildlife since it is estimated that wind turbines are responsible for the deaths of 500,000 birds and bats each year. As a result of their findings, the students identified their PBL driving question:

Is it possible to harness the wind without hurting wildlife?

Next, students brainstormed some initial ideas on how to solve for this real world issue:

After brainstorming some possible solutions, students researched the feasibility and implications of the specific ideas they came up with. However, the team soon found out…

Instead of giving up on solving for this real world problem, the team of students persevered and researched other innovative ideas. Eventually the team stumbled upon an isolated image of a bladeless wind turbine which piqued their interest. With no references available on this intriguing image, the students dug deeper to uncover more information on the device, its creator, how it functions, etc. until finally identifying Vortex Bladeless, located in Madrid, as the start-up company behind this innovative technology.

Through further investigation, the students were also able to track down the direct contact information for one of the Co-CEOs of the company, David Suriol. The team eagerly emailed David and shared their strong interest in learning more about the Vortex Bladeless System. David responded almost immediately – and a new and exciting global partnership was formed!

With so many questions to ask, an initial Skype session was soon scheduled. Prior to the Skype meeting, the team prepared their specific list of questions for learning more about how the Vortex Bladeless System works, how the idea first developed, etc. Throughout the exciting Skype session, the team learned a lot about the system, how it efficiently functions while also being safe for wildlife, and how it is currently in final testing stages inside of actual wind tunnels.

Video covering product conception and development:

In addition, the students also learned that a company goal is to break into the U.S. marketplace. Learning about this particular company goal, the team voiced their strong interest in bringing this innovative technology to the Allendale Columbia School campus. In order to take the first step toward achieving this goal, the team scheduled a time to present their idea to the school’s Buildings and Grounds Committee. In preparation for this meeting, the students created a new presentation specifically for the committee, and on February 26th, the students pitched their idea on why AC should consider the installation of the Vortex Bladeless System on the school campus. The presentation was enthusiastically received by the committee, who requested that the students take the next step by scheduling and actually leading a second Skype session with David and the entire Buildings and Grounds Committee for the purpose of further investigating the students’ exciting proposal.

Gr4_Skype with Committee

The students worked on developing a specific set of questions that were submitted to Co-CEO David Suriol prior to the next Skype session. Questions included requests for information on product specifications, shipping, installation, maintenance, and so on. The global Skype meeting, held on March 18th, was very informative and engaging for everyone involved. Plans are now in place to continue this real world, collaborative partnership with the Madrid-based company offering to provide a first generation, one-hundred watt Bladeless Vortex Wind Turbine to be installed on the AC school campus.

Working alongside the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the student team will be involved in all phases of installation, maintenance, data acquisition, and reporting back to Co-CEO David Suriol of Vortex Bladeless. Further development and implementation of this technology will continue to evolve throughout this exciting global partnership!


For the DuPont Challenge, students work in teams of four to choose a specific global problem to solve for. The team topics chosen this year include:

(1) developing the best way to plant milkweed for yielding optimal results in an attempt to help the drastically dwindling population of monarch butterflies;

(2) devising alternative ways to grow food with the shrinking availability of land coupled with an increasing global population;

(3) innovating a way to make wind turbines safer for wildlife (since it is estimated that wind turbines are responsible for the death of 500,000 birds and bats each year); and,

(4) investigating the feasibility of Allendale Columbia School going solar to reduce its carbon footprint.

Visit our LS STEM Spotlight to view all the 4th grade DuPont Challenge final project submissions in their entirety – you will be impressed with the collaborative, real world learning our young S.T.E.M. students continue to enthusiastically demonstrate!

Gr4_DuPont Projects ALL 4

Last of all, let’s wish all our student teams the best of luck with their DuPont Challenge 2016 project submissions!

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Posted in: Fourth Grade, Highlights, Lower School