Wayne Segal is a 4th Grade Teacher at the John F. Kennedy Primary School in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District who is often called on to instruct various subjects.
Science. Marketing. Math.
Those are three areas of education that he is quite knowledgeable in
He shared his knowledge of science when he was the spearhead who coordinated the first-ever STEM Day or also known as JFK Science Day on Saturday, February 4.
His tireless approach to promote this fantastic day and his keen sense to bring on valuable assistance in the form of fellow JFK 4th Grade Teacher, Maria Caiola, was a sound indication of his prowess in marketing.
And in math, he was able to count the turnstiles and come up with the amount of people who attended---and produced---a fantastic STEM Day at JFK.
On this Saturday morning of February 4 when the temperatures outside in the Borough of Raritan were a bone-chilling single digits, the community bundled up and made the journey to explore the world of science at JFK.
“We had an overall total of 600 people,” Mr. Segal reported. “I am blown away by how many came.”
His knowledge of compiling the figures is a great sign on what lies ahead for future STEM Days.
“The only way events like these can happen,”” Mr. Segal stated, “is if people show up.”
And he followed with his assertion.
“They showed up here.”
The overflow crowd contained students, families, teachers and administrators–and not just from the JFK neighborhoods.
The entire Bridgewater-Raritan landscape was attracted to STEM Day.
There was John Sirusas and his energetic Robotics Team from Bridgewater-Raritan High School who dominated the total of 50 high school volunteers that day.
Among the many exhibitions that they operated was the Robotics Team’s robot, which drew the attention of the audience.
“We wanted to introduce youngsters to our Robotics program and we hope to see them one day soon,” said Mr. Sirusas, who serves as the advisor to this highly popular high school club.
Dr. Cheryl Pieroni, who is the Science Coordinator at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, was among the many who gave their time to educate the audience with a display.
She explained her Hydroponic Garden exhibit.
“This is a way to grow plants without soil indoors,” Dr. Pieroni revealed. “This method is used in cities and in abandoned warehouses to grow vegetables that can then be brought to a food pantry. You use ultraviolet light and water.”
Her display delivered a crucial message.
“Kids see how science can help solve hunger and a food shortage,” said Dr. Pieroni, who was accompanied during the exhibit by her daughter, Amelia, a freshman at Hunterdon Central Regional High School.
On the topic of food, another one of the numerous interesting exhibits was the station that was manned by Meredith Tyers, who is 2nd Grade Teacher at JFK.
Her table was an education on the lives of bees and a bee hive. She revealed on what she does outside of the classroom
“I am a beekeeper,” Ms. Tyers reported. “My family started a bee colony three years ago due to our love of honey.”
They operate a bee colony on their family property in Hunterdon County’s rural Lebanon Township.
“Bees are important to our food supply,” she said.
Parents were as thrilled with the various stations as their children.
“There are so many components where people can learn science,” said Barrett Windrem, whose twin daughters, Evelyn and Kaitlyn, are 4th Graders at JFK. They were there on this Saturday with their older brother, Gavin, a JFK alumnus who is now an 8th Grader at the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School.
“This is a great day, it is wonderful,” Gavin declared to the agreement of his twin sisters.
Katie Kelly, who has a daughter named Maggie who is a 4th Grader attending JFK, was pleasantly surprised at what she experienced.
“I did not know what to expect but this is wonderful and so well organized,” Ms. Kelly said. “This is a great day for the community and so interactive for the kids.”
She also touched on one area that was greatly responsible for the success of this STEM Day.
“JFK people and others gave up their Saturday to be here,” she declared.
Her feelings were shared.
“There were over 200 youth from the community in attendance,” Dr. Pieroni said about all of the students, young and old.
But she praised the commitments that the high school students provided.
“This event could not have been a success without the help of our student volunteers. As I walked around to visit each of the events, I couldn’t help but smile, noticing all of the kids having fun, developing an interest in STEM.
Sarah Wolf, the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District’s Science and Social Studies Curriculum Supervisor, was also taken back by the showing of all of the workers.
“It is wonderful to see so many high school students give up their Saturday so everyone can celebrate STEM,” Ms. Wolf observed. “It was great to see the high school kids interact.”
“What an amazing turnout and community support of all ages from high school to pre-school,” said Marisa Keenan, who is a 4th Grade Teacher at JFK.
Her principal at JFK, Aldo Russo, understood the importance of the event.
“This STEM Day brings our community together and it gives students and their families a great opportunity to see what STEM can offer,’ Principal Russo said.
And there was support that came from all directions.
The Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association (BREA) was an instrumental booster to the STEM Day.
STEM Day was a PRIDE event sponsored by the BREA. The grant assisted in providing funds for supplies to run the event.
The PRIDE Grant is explained by information from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA),
Since 1994, the NJEA has conducted the PRIDE in Public Education campaign, a statewide effort to share the success of public education with all New Jerseyans and build strong community support for and involvement in our public schools.
As part of its campaign, the NJEA provides grants to its local/county affiliates for projects that bring the public schools out into the community and the community into the public schools. Each year there are hundreds of local PRIDE projects conducted by NJEA members.
Also providing some assistance with funds was Main Engine Start, a science non-profit out of New Jersey
Here is a summary from its website:
Main Engine Start is a non-profit organization focused on addressing the real problem that not enough students are choosing to go into science and engineering as a course study in school and in their careers.
Dr. Peter Stupak, the Main Engine Start President and Founder, was on hand to promote a future in science.
Another booster at STEM Day was Raritan Valley Community College in nearby Branchburg.
Amie Gallagher, who is the Director of the Raritan Valley Community College’s Planetarium, displayed a station and a poster board that explained about a theater that presents shows regarding astronomy.
Finally, a loud round of applause must be delivered to Mr. Segal and his dedicated associate, Ms. Caiola.
“This event is way bigger than I imagined,” Ms. Caiola admitted. “It is amazing so many people are here to enjoy a day of science. Families and people of all ages and backgrounds are here learning science.”
STEM may stand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, but you can add another letter—S–for success in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District.
“This was our first ever and it was a success,” Ms. Caiola claimed. “We are on the road to having another next year.”
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