Manhasset Secondary School STEM wing considered for capital reserve spending

Manhasset Secondary School STEM wing considered for capital reserve spending
Lea Klissouras (left) and Ava Klissouras created a machine in their engineering course with instructor Frank Russo (right) that connects to sensors that measure force. (Photo by Teri West)

The Manhasset Board of Education is considering creating a tech wing and innovation lab in Manhasset Secondary School as one of about 25 potential projects that could be financed by its approximate $4.882 million capital reserve fund.

The wing would provide renovated space for the school’s engineering classes. Engineering staff and students demonstrated the work they do and said a wing would help at Tuesday’s board meeting.

The high school’s engineering classes are currently housed in two classrooms that are not next to each other. One was recently renovated and one was formerly for shop classes, said the district coordinator for science, health and technology, Thomas Elkins.

“Right now we’re sort of retrofitting a new program into an old space,” he said. “We could design a space to accommodate this where we have a teaching area, we have a building area, we have a research area.”

District architect John Grillo determined that the tech wing and innovation lab would cost $840,000, according to a document provided by the schools that outlines cost estimates.

Engineering classes, which are offered in both the middle and high school, are part of Project Lead the Way, a national nonprofit group that helps schools introduce computer science, engineering and biomedical science programs into their curriculums.

Manhasset schools introduced the engineering instruction in the 2014-15 school year with a course for 7th graders, Elkins said. Since then, classes have expanded to five grades, including elementary and high school, and the schools plan to continue expanding to nearly all middle and high school grades by the 2020 school year, Elkins said.

Project Lead the Way classes encourage students to actively guide their learning and find original solutions, Elkins said.

Tenth-graders Ava and Lea Klissouras, who are enrolled in a principles of engineering elective course, attended Tuesday’s meeting with a machine they built. They demonstrated how they measure force on the machine to calculate mechanical advantage.

“It’s pretty entertaining, and everything is cumulative,” Ava Klissouras said. “By learning these simple machines we can combine them to make more complex machines that could, say, apply to an automobile or an assembly line in a factory.”

The Board of Education is putting together a one-page brief to inform the community about the capital reserve fund and decision-making process, Superintendent Vincent Butera said.

The board plans to hold a public hearing about the capital reserve at Shelter Rock Elementary School on Nov. 16, he said.

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