Floral Park FUSE lab encourages innovation

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Floral Park Memorial freshman Hannah Saji (standing) watches her group’s marble go through the rollercoaster they created. Also pictured are Alia Kabbaj (left) and Ava Lindyberg. (Photos courtesy of the Sewanhaka Central High School District)

Floral Park Memorial High School students in grades 7-9 are learning to design and build, thanks to the school’s new FUSE lab.

FUSE is an educational program developed by Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy that brings interactive science, technology, engineering, arts and math learning to middle and high school students. Floral Park Memorial is one of 23 schools to join Northwestern in this endeavor this year.

Floral Park Memorial student Steven Ramirez tested his the solar car her created at the school’s FUSE lab. (Photos courtesy of the Sewanhaka Central High School District)

Students meet at the FUSE lab three times weekly after school, under the guidance of facilitator and school librarian Larissa Simonovski, and have the opportunity to work independently or collaboratively to complete one of the program’s 25 challenges. These challenges include creating a 3-D model of themselves, building roller coasters, creating light displays, designing and printing their own sunglasses and more. The students are afforded the flexibility of time and depth of exploration depending on their level of interest and inquiry in each of the challenges. They are not necessarily meant to complete all of the challenges. They are encouraged to explore in-depth those that they find most interesting.

Floral Park students (from left): Vivek Mirchandani, Harris Agha, Joaquin Casino and Jacob Sinanan worked together to reflect the light from a laser on a bulls eye using mirrors.(Photos courtesy of the Sewanhaka Central High School District)

“This program sets students up for success in any academic discipline,” Floral Park Science Department Chairperson Daniel Mezzafonte said. “It also fosters a love of science.”

Currently, ninth-grade students are taking part in a 10-week cycle of the program at Floral Park Memorial. The next two cycles will include students in grades 7 and 8, with the freshmen serving as mentors for the younger students.

Floral Park students Joaquin Casino (foreground) asked fellow student Angelo Barravecchio for assistance with the 3D printer.
(Photos courtesy of the Sewanhaka Central High School District)

“This is one of the best programs I’ve ever experienced,” Ms. Simonovski said. “It’s very rewarding to see students find a way to solve a problem and to work as a team. They’re a great group and the fact that they’re coming after school to learn is wonderful.”

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