STEM Blog

Fall Cyber STEM After School Program

The Fall Session of our CyberSTEM After School program came to a close last week with a fun Python Christmas tree turtle drawing program. The students spent the session learning Python basics and completed some Python turtle drawings, programmed a guessing game, and a flash card matching set game.

The students received their certificates and folders with all the sample code projects used during the session and are encouraged to continue using Python at home.

We are looking forward to our CyberSTEM Spring Session, where we will develop additional coding skills and explore robotics using our VEX Robotics kits.

The Hour of Code!

As part of our commitment to STEM education, St. Louis School is proud to be participating in the global Hour of Code event again this year. The Hour of Code is celebrated during Computer Science Education Week (December 3 through 9) and takes place in more than 180 countries across 200,000 events. The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer operations, designed to demystify "code” and to show that anyone can learn the basics. Since then it has grown into a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science.

This past week students in Mrs. Phelps’ and Mrs. Whiteford’s Computer Classes (Grades K through 8) participated in age-appropriate coding activities. Students in Grades K - 4 were introduced to block coding, with an emphasis on sequencing and logical problem-solving. Older students who are more familiar with block coding explored the soon-to-be-released beta version of Scratch 3.0 with new features like text-to-speech and the ability to run on multiple devices. Students in the Cyber STEM after-school program explored different aspects of the Python programming language as an extension of what the have been working on this fall.

The students are encouraged to continue exploring the activities offered on the Hour of Code website (www.hourofcode.com) beyond what we are doing in the classroom. Thank you to Code.org for this remarkable opportunity!

 

Inspiration for Design and Building

We often look to geniuses for ideas and inspiration in our own lives. SLS Eighth Grade students are examining the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci through a cross-curricular STEAM activity. On Friday, the students began designing and building complex machines in Ms. d’Epagnier’s and Mrs. Yuska's art and science classes using household materials, inspired by prototype machines found in Da Vinci’s famous notebooks. This cross-curricular art and science project challenged the students to design a machine that would lift a mass of 20 to 50 grams 20+ centimeters and include at least 2 simple machines. "Instrumental or mechanical science is the noblest and above all others, the most useful." 

— Leonardo da Vinci

3D Cookie Cutters?

Cookies are a Christmas tradition that is enjoyed by everyone. SLS students had the opportunity to design their own Christmas tree shaped cookie cutters using 3D design software this past week. We will be printing these designs just in time for the holiday cookie season in our brand new Dremel 3D printers. We can’t wait to see the results!

Preparing for Launch

The key to getting better at anything is practice! This morning our First LEGO League (FLL) team, the Nebula Narwhals, had an opportunity to practice their presentation and execution skills at the Fall Workshop and Scrimmage of the Catholic Robotics League (CRL). The CRL mission is to inspire, develop, support, and encourage competitive robotics teams within the Archdiocese of Baltimore school system.

The Narwhals participated in a series of workshops and scrimmages to prepare them for launch “Into Orbit” as part of this year’s FLL theme of space exploration. We were happy to see two Narwhal alumni, now both attending Mount de Sales Academy, serve as scrimmage referees today. In addition, Narwhals coach Anne Reed led one of the coach's workshops this morning.

We would like to thank the CAV-ineers, the Archbishop Spalding High School Robotics team, their head coach Amy Brunner, CRL Commissioner Bianca Giudicci, and Joe Oleszczuk, Archdiocese Director of Educational Technology, for the opportunity to collaborate with teams from other schools. We are now better prepared to launch “Into Orbit”. To learn more about FLL visit: https://www.firstinspires.org/

 

Three Dimensional Empowerment

As part of the St. Louis School STEM Speaker Series, our Fifth Grade students took the opportunity to learn about 3D printing from Preston Tobery, Coordinator of Maker Technologies of the University of Maryland’s John and Stella Graves MakerSpace. Mr. Tobery shared details about his career, the technologies found at the Maker Space and his passion for 3D printing and design with the goal of making a difference in our world. We learned about his design of a 3D prosthetic arm for a friend, his assistive wheelchair for Chloe, a paralyzed kitten, and his “Mega Feeder” design for Badger, a kitten suffering from megaesophagus. Mr. Tobery shared how he has re-evaluated the Mega Feeder and went through a re-design to improve it, all based on feedback and observed need. The students were able to view an actual 3D-printed Mega Feeder and discussed details about the design, the hollow portions to reduce print time, and the materials used.

Mr. Tobery told the students how he uses mathematics every day when creating and printing designs and encouraged them to pursue what interests them with a mindset to look for solutions to problems. Be curious!

The Fifth Grade students were gifted with their very own Testudo, a 3D-printed design of the University of Maryland turtle statue located outside the McKeldin Library in College Park. We would like to thank Mr. Tobery for the gift of his time and talent and for inspiring our students to pursue careers in the STEM fields.

 

WGTS 91.9

For most of us, radio is a regular part of daily life. Have you ever stopped to consider what it takes to produce a show?

Yesterday, St. Louis School 8th Grade students got a virtual tour of local radio station WGTS 91.9 FM and learned exactly what it takes. Producer Spencer White and morning talk show hosts Jerry Woods and Blanca Vega welcomed us into their production room and answered student questions, covering everything from show preparation, music selection, and the technology and algorithms behind it.

WGTS is a Christian Radio station that inspires listeners with words of kindness, hope, and prayer. The morning show focuses on “starting your day with a smile, some inspiration and a good dose of audio coffee.”

We would like to express our thanks to the team at WGTS and to Ms. Sandy Osborne, our Music teacher, who arranged this meeting and prepared the students with background information and questions for the hosts. Perhaps we have some future radio engineers, producers and on-air talent in the SLS Class of 2019.

To learn more about WGTS visit: http://wgts.org/

 

Can a Fish Cure a Disease?

Holt-Oram syndrome is characterized by skeletal abnormalities of the hands and arms (upper limbs) and heart problems. The zebrafish, found in many aquariums around the world, may hold the key to curing this syndrome.

The second presenter in our STEM Speaker Series, Ph.D. candidate Erin Boyle Anderson from the University of Chicago, discussed her ongoing zebrafish research with St. Louis School Seventh Graders today. Her exploration of the zebrafish fin growth mechanism is providing valuable insight into cellular growth. Ms. Anderson explained her research process, discussed challenges and opportunities and gave us a guided tour of her lab. Her ultimate advice to our Seventh Graders was to be curious and to learn about things that interest them.

We are grateful to Erin Boyle Anderson for spending an hour with our students, answering many relevant questions and encouraging them to continue pursuing careers in STEM. We would also like to thank Microsoft and their sponsorship of Skype in the Classroom for the opportunity to learn from a variety of working STEM professionals.

 

Maryland STEM Festival Podcast

St. Louis School is proud to have participated in the Maryland STEM Festival for the third year in a row. We thank everyone who attended and helped make this event a success. A special thank you to Phil Rogofsky for stopping by and for interviewing our STEM Student Ambassadors and a member of our parent community. Check out the podcast of the interview below.

 

https://youtu.be/Uywd6ffFVJo

Python Christmas Tree Turtle Drawing Code

from turtle import *
 
def move_to( x, y ):
    penup()
    setx( x )
    sety( y )
    pendown()
 
 
def draw_triangle( size ):
    color( 'black', 'green')
    begin_fill()
 
    setheading( 240 )
    for i in range( 0,3 ):
        forward( size )
        left( 120 )
 
    end_fill()
 
 
def draw_circle( size, c_color ):
    color( 'black', c_color )
    begin_fill()
    circle( size )
    end_fill()
 
 
def draw_star( size ):
    color( 'black', 'yellow' )
    setheading( 72 )
    begin_fill()
    
    for i in range( 0, 5 ):
        forward( size )
        right( 144 )
 
    end_fill()
 
    
# Draw the tree
 
move_to( 50, -80 )
draw_triangle( 200 )
 
move_to( 50, 0 )
draw_triangle( 150 )
 
move_to( 50, 50 )
draw_triangle( 100 )
 
 
# Draw the star
 
move_to( 39, 40 )
draw_star( 40 )
 
 
# Draw the ornaments
 
move_to( 80, -40 )
draw_circle( 15, 'red' )
 
move_to( 20, -100 )
draw_circle( 15, 'blue' )
 
move_to( 100, -200 )
draw_circle( 15, 'purple' )
 
 
# Draw the message
 
move_to( -30, 100 )
write( "Merry Christmas!", font=( "Arial", 16, "bold" ) )
 
 
done()
 

Maryland STEM Festival Event at SLS!

As part of our participation in the Maryland STEM Festival, St. Louis School hosted a Create & Code event this morning to showcase some fun STEM-related activities. We are grateful to all who turned out on this dreary day to brighten our morning. It sure was fun!

Thanks to Phil Rogofsky, Director of the Maryland STEM Festival for dropping by to visit and to our awesome STEM student-ambassadors for helping our guests jump right in. Be sure to visit for our next Open House on December 5th from 9:30 - 11:00 AM. We would love to meet you and show you around! with Maryland STEM Festival

Bat Crazy Third Graders!

For the past couple of weeks, our 3rd graders have been researching, reading, and writing about bats including their life cycles, wing parts, habitats, and other interesting facts, incorporating concepts and resources across Science, Language Arts, Social Studies and Library.

Faced with scenarios involving injured bats, students also had the chance to put their STEM skills to use with team collaboration, designing/planning, and building to solve three different design challenges under real-life constraints.

As you can tell - they loved it and did a Bat-tastic job! Thanks to Mrs. Cabrera for the engaging and fun lesson!

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