Westfield is ‘all-in’ for STEM Week

District teachers participated in hands-on training for STEM week. (Photo submitted)

WESTFIELD – The second statewide Science, Technology, Engineer and Math (STEM) week runs from Oct. 21 to 25, and the Westfield schools are all in, according to Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski, Curriculum and Instructor Director Susan Dargie, and STEM Supervisors Lauren Figy and Kate Perez.

Activities for STEM Week have been planned in all of the schools, from pre-kindergarten to grade 12.
The week kicks off  Oct. 21 at Fort Meadow Early Childhood Center, where Westfield High School advanced placement environment students will be setting up stations in two shifts from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The teachers at Fort Meadow have made a book about a gourd on a farm. At one of the stations, they will be cutting open a gourd and planting a seed, and getting a real idea of the science behind it,” Figy said.
The elementary schools are participating in Project Lead the Way’s Zero Waste Challenge. Teachers participated in an optional training for the program at Westfield State University in September. There will be different challenges for different grade levels, all on the theme of sustainability, and how to reuse, reduce, and recycle.
Project Lead the Way, which is a national organization, will be visiting Westfield during the project week, and has donated all of the materials for the challenge for free, Dargie said.
On Oct. 22, students from Abner Gibbs and Franklin Avenue are going to Westfield State University for a STEM day on coding led by WSU professor Jennifer Hanselman, dean of the College of Math and Science, where they will be joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
Paper Mill Elementary School will be hosting a STEAM week, integrating the arts into the science, technology, engineering and math. They will also have a ribbon cutting of its new school store on Oct. 25 at 9:30 a.m., where they will showcase all of their STEAM projects.
Grades 5 to 8 will be focusing on projects from another national initiative, i2 Learning, which has also donated all of the materials for free to the schools, said Perez. The students will spend the entire week in their home rooms working on the projects.
Grade 5 at Westfield Intermediate School will study the ecosystem of fictional Loon Lake, focusing on water quality, animal populations, filter feeders, comparing changes over time, and ecosystem mapping.
Grade 6 students will study building a lunar colony, and explore gravity, mass, what it would take for plants and organisms to survive, and how to engineer a living environment.
Grade 7 students at Westfield Middle School will be building kinetic sculptures, working with gears, magnets and windmills. Grade 8 students will be studying urban farming, and learn about irrigation systems and how to combat food waste.
The WIS and WMS teachers underwent a two-day training at Westfield Middle School in preparation for STEM Week. Figy said the donated materials for the programs arrived in 27 pallets.
Dargie said the owner and founder of i2 Learning has also selected Westfield as a Spotlight District, and will be visiting WIS and WMS on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Allie Masciadrelli engraves a key chain in Manufacturing Tech. during last year’s STEM week visit to WTA. (Photo by Amy Porter)

On Oct. 24, WMS eighth graders will also have the opportunity to visit Westfield Technical Academy for a hands-on engineering career pathway event, sponsored by Advanced Manufacturing, Jarvis Surgical and WTA. Participating students will be picked up at the school at 8:15 a.m., and must wear long pants, long-sleeve or short-sleeve shirts, and closed-toed sneakers or shoes. Safety glasses will be provided.
A Westfield Cultural Council grant has also afforded the WMS students the opportunity to have a mobile gameworks after-school project with Holyoke Codes during STEM Week.
WMS families will have an opportunity to come to the school on Oct. 24 from 6 to 7 p.m. to see what their students have been up to during the week, and to learn more about STEM.
Highlights at Westfield High School include a panel of career STEM professionals Oct. 22, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. Figy said eight different career pathways will be represented, including aerospace engineering, horticulture and landscaping and information technology.
Figy said life sciences at WHS will also be partnering with a life science professor at WSU on Oct. 24 from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. to study genetically modified organisms (GMO).
A group of students at Pathways is also completing a zero waste challenge, and will be going to Boston on  Oct. 25 to showcase their work.
For the general public, WSU will be hosting “The Truth About Sharks” Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Scanlon Hall.
“On a district level, I appreciate all of the teachers’ efforts,” said Czaporowski.
“I’m excited,” said Figy.

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