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Croton Girls Take STEAM by Storm

Croton Girls attend Steam Event at Kingston High School

Lighting a spark that could ignite a lifetime of learning or even a career: that’s the goal of the annual Hudson Valley Girls Rock STEAM Conference, hosted by NYS Master Teachers. Students from Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School attended the conference on Saturday, March 18th at Kingston High School where they were able to engage in a number of  hands-on, thought-provoking STEAM activities. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. 

The conference aspires to mitigate the gender gap in STEAM educational opportunities for women by engaging  local educators, business people, artists and other community members to guide its programs. This year, 30 PVC girls attended the field trip, chaperoned by sixth grade teachers Tracy Finan and Jennifer Rescigno.

“We love being involved with the Girls Rock STEAM event because it is an educational program that addresses the current underrepresented female population in STEAM,” said Ms. Finan and Ms. Rescigno.  “The event focuses on igniting interest in STEAM at the middle school level, before girls start making choices on the types of classes they want to take in high school, which then may have an effect on their career choice.” 

The Girls Rock STEAM conference opened with guest speaker Deborah A Kravchuk, EdD,  a public school earth science teacher, adjunct professor at SUNY Empire State College and member of the SUNY Maritime College Council. Ms. Kravchuk shared many stories from her career, such as when she and her high school students pursued research grants to study eels in local streams, and how she was brought on board for the Hyde Park mastodon skeleton dig. So cool! She offered the young women various resources that can help students find similar volunteer opportunities during their high school years. Students could then attend three of the breakout STEAM sessions, including: 

  • Explorations with Light and Shadows

  • Suminagashi Art and Polarity: Like Dissolves Like

  • Rainbow Density Column

  • Keeping Wildlife in Your Future: Falcons, Owls, etc.

  • Rube Goldberg Machines

  • Fingerprinting

  • Owl Pellet Dissection

  • How Empty is Space: Modeling Our Solar System in True Scale

  • Lava Lamps and Rockets

  • Making Your Own Operation Game

  • Spaghetti Tower Challenge

  • Anatomy and Chicken Wing Dissection

  • Frog Dissection and Learning About Human and Vertebrae Anatomy 

PVC students Maeve and Kate attended the Spaghetti Tower Challenge, a teamwork activity for beginners in design to practice prototyping and testing. In this challenge, students worked in groups to build the tallest structure able to hold a marshmallow on top using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, and a yard of string. Maeve and Kate were the winners! 

In another session, Keeping Wildlife in Your Future, Kayla, Alicia, Skylar, Naomi, Anabelle, Michelle, Sophia and Riley met various birds of prey while engaging in discussions about wildlife preservation. The instructor explained how rat poisons have greatly affected bird populations and that their environments need to be protected since many birds do not survive their yearly migrations. Michelle shared her own story about human impact on wildlife: the wooded area near the CVS in Croton-on-Hudson is being cleared for a new apartment building and she has noticed many coyotes roaming the neighborhoods after losing their dens. This started a group discussion on ways community members can become involved in protecting local wildlife. 

Events like Girls Rock STEAM not only serve to educate young women about STEAM - they can help them build community. Ms. Finan and Ms. Resigno said that it’s also just a super way to spend a Saturday. “It is such a fun event and the girls had ear-to-ear grins all day.”