The growing focus on STEM education (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) was reflected in the turnout and enthusiasm at the 2019 Diocesan STEM Fair.
This year’s fair had 150 entries from 35 different Catholic schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Saturday. The event, held at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, is the culmination of the STEM education programs and local events at each Catholic elementary school across the island.
The event was judged by 35 judges including STEM students from both St. John the Baptist High School and Holy Trinity High School, and volunteers from Fidelis Care, Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation and faculty and administration from diocesan schools. Students also go to show their work off to Bishop John Barres who attended the event and visited with students and families.
The event featured work from students in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 and was divided into two groups, the 5th & 6th graders at Level 1 and the 7th and 8th graders at Level 2. Students were challenged to identify a challenge facing society and to suggest a solution using a combination of the academic disciplines.
The students’ work was judged based on their ability to identify and research the problem, select the most promising solution, to construct a prototype, and to communicate the final design and test results. Some of the year’s most common themes included solar and alternative energy solutions, maintaining cleanliness and health, and environmental and water quality.
The winners at Level 1 (5th and 6th grade) included:
— Alexandra DiPaola and Alessandra Mauricio of St. Rose of Lima School in Massapequa, who took first place for their project on health and exercise.
— Second place was a tie between Michaela Sedita from Our Lady of Mercy in Hicksville for her project for diabetic and migraine sufferers and Oliver Earl from St. John Paul II School in Riverhead for his design for earthquake resistant buildings.
— Third place was awarded to Cirsten Koleda from St. Mary’s Elementary School in Manhasset for her work with robotics.
The winners at Level 2 (7th and 8th grade) included:
— Margaret Oldak from St. Agnes cathedral School in Rockville Centre for her environmental work about straw consumption.
— Nolan Papagano of St. William the Abbbot School in Seaford, who took second place honors, also with a project on plastic straws.
— Third place was a tie between Dylan Long from St. Patrick’s School in Huntington for his work on an iPhone app and Hope Ristau from Maria Regina School in Seaford for her water delivery project.