Southington Education Foundation, Inc.

SOUTHINGTON EDUCATION FOUNDATION, INC.

Instilling a love of learning.

STEM

The Southington Education Foundation is committed to bringing increased awareness and recognition to the importance of STEM-based experiential learning within our school district.

Integrating the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics into cross-curriculum studies is essential for our 21st century students.

The SEF seeks to support and enhance such programming already underway in and outside of our classrooms with the STEM initiative.


Virtual STEM University

The Virtual STEM University (VSU) is a unique, web-based educational resource for teachers that offers easy access to innovative lesson design plans for the classroom. The uploaded lesson design plans foster greater aptitude in and commitment to STEM education in Southington’s K-12 classrooms.

Moreover, the VSU strengthens the move towards digital and global citizenship for all of the district’s students as technology lends itself to a more thorough understanding of complex concepts and our 21st century world.

The VSU establishes Southington as a national model for STEM resources and education. Educators will have the ability to share ideas with one another and collaborate both within their schools and across the district.

The Southington Education Foundation created the VSU in conjunction with the Southington Public School District.

VSU In the News:

Southington Education Foundation Announces Virtual STEM University
May 28, 2014

Nearly twenty Southington Public School educators assembled to discuss innovative lesson designs submitted for a Virtual STEM University website. Throughout the present school year teachers developed lessons and units for this online resource initiated and funded by the Southington Education Foundation through a $13,000 grant.

VSU Teachers
Back Row, L-R: John Duffy (SPS Science Coordinator), Kim Kalat, Amy Capobianco, Mandy Hubeny, Jennifer Valentine, Rebecca Richards, Charity Baker, Christina McKirryher, Regina, Albee, and Dale Riedinger (SPS Math Coordinator). Front Row, L-R: Beth Hosmer, Teresa Brooks, Toni-Ann Rock, Gina Krar, Jennifer Irazabal, Erin Nattrass, and Sarah Cavanaugh. Missing from photo: Heather Bacchus and Betty Brown. (click for a larger image)

The VSU website is scheduled to be officially launched next fall and will provide an environment where teachers can share creative, experiential activities that encompass all grade levels. The SEF grant requires that teacher lessons have at least two or more STEM components…science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics. John Duffy, Science Coordinator for the Southington Public School system explained that all lessons are aligned with Southington curriculum and Common Core standards.

A PowerPoint presentation showcased two teams’ lessons. Sara Cavanaugh and Jennifer Irazabal provided the details of Force and Motion via Dam Creation. Students used technology, engaged in experiments and made predictions. The students’ final performance task, or measure of their knowledge, required that they create an effective dam.

Betty Brown, a fifth grade teacher explained the Light and Mirrors project. This activity requires through a trial and error method students place mirrors in a box in an attempt to refract light. Brown explained that the activity allowed students to work at their own pace and through discovery come to a valid conclusion. Duffy pointed out that the VSU STEM lessons provide for differentiation among student abilities, making for very good instructional technique.

John Duffy

John Duffy, Southington Public Schools Science Coordinator

All VSU lessons were created by and for teachers and will be easily accessed by grade level and topic. Lessons will also provide teachers information regarding needed materials, the number of days of instruction, possible teacher questions as well as appropriate student responses. At present there are nine lesson plans soon to be easily accessed through the district website, www.southingtonschools.org. Duffy hopes that as lessons are added an additional website may be required.

The unveiling of this one-of-a-kind web-based instructional environment also provided an opportunity to acknowledge the educators who worked under the guidance of John Duffy and Dale Riedinger, district math coordinator. Jan Galati, chairman of the SEF shared her pride and excitement for the teachers’ collective accomplishments. Teachers left the event excited about the varied lessons and the opportunity to begin accessing this resource during the 2014-15 school year.

Here are the names of teachers and their projects:

STEM Unit Creators

School - Grade

STEM Project

Sara Cavanaugh, Jennifer Irazabal

SEES - 4/5

Force and Motion via Dam Creation

Betty Brown

SEES – 5

Light and Mirrors

Amy Capobianco, Toni-Ann Rock

JAD - 6

Water: Reducing Runoff

Beth Hosmer, Kim Kalat

JAD - 7

EcosySTEMs Travel

Heather Bacchus, Erin Nattrass

Kelley - 5

Marshmallow Catapult Challenge

Mandy Hubeny, Rebecca Richards

Thalberg – 5

Variables using toy cars

Teresa Brooks, Brittany Saucier

SHS

Personal Finance

Gina Krar, Jennifer Valentine

Thalberg – 3

Recycling with Bottle Boats

Regina Albee, Charity Baker, Christina McKirryher

Plantsville - 1

Animal Classification

Read the Hartford Courant story: Southington Group to help Science Teachers


4th graders learnig science at Camp Sloper

Artist renditions of the Nature Center - Click for a larger view
Artist renditions by Monique Morin - click the drawings for a larger view

Nature Center nears completion, May 1, 2014 - click for a larger view


Nature Center officially opens June 12, 2014. Click here to view more photos.

Science at Sloper - 4th Grade STEM Initiative

One of the most sweeping projects to date is the annual fourth-grade STEM Initiative implemented by the SEF during the 2011-2012 school year. In conjunction with the YMCA’s Camp Sloper, the SEF partnered with the school district to provide a hands-on, project-based learning initiative that fosters instruction in the STEM fields. To date, the SEF has committed $25,000 to this program.

Fourth graders from across the district travel to Camp Sloper twice during the academic year for a day of innovative learning. Students collect pond specimens and perform on-site experiments thanks to the many natural resources that are abundant at Camp Sloper.

Thank You letters from some of our students


Camp Sloper Nature Center

In March, 2014, the Southington Education Foundation provided $20,000 towards construction of the YMCA Camp Sloper Nature Center.

The 750 square-foot building, previously a pavilion, was enclosed for year-round use. Additionally, the Nature Center building has the potential for expanding the Science at Sloper initiative.

Currently, all fourth graders are bused to this site in the fall and spring; in the future students may be able to participate in winter enrichment activities.

The Nature Center officially opened June 12, 2014 during a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Read the following news stories about the opening:


STEM Recognition Program

A new STEM Recognition Program reaches into the classroom to encourage projects and extracurricular activities already in progress. Our first recognition gift was to the Southington Cyber Knights, the SHS Robotics Team. Also known as the First 195 Team, the award-winning group was presented with a $1,500 check on June 13, 2013, to further its mission during the 2013-2014 school year.


Central Connecticut State University Partnership

The SEF is proud to announce their most recent STEM project--- a Partnership between the Southington Public Schools (SPS) and Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) School of Engineering and Technology. Launched this past fall the project will enhance educational opportunities available to students by developing a greater understanding of STEM and its significance within the global marketplace. This partnership will advance both teaching and learning by providing students with activities and outreach programs that will allow students to access CCSU’s STEM resources.

Click to view more photos on Facebook!Genesis of CCSU/SPS Partnership
Dr. David Monti, SEF STEM chairperson brought together CCSU Dean Faris Mahals and Associate Dean James Mulrooney with Southington Public Schools educators, Assistant Superintendent Steve Madancy, Science Coordinator John Duffy, and Southington High Technology and Engineering Department Chairperson Justin Mirante. After hearing the opportunities available at CCSU, the collaborative drafted a plan and the assistant superintendent applied for funding from the Southington Education Foundation.

Career Exploration in Technology and Engineering
“One big takeaway from the meeting with the university deans was that students and parents are not aware of the enormous opportunities within the STEM sector. The clear majority of careers exist within the applied physical sciences, of which engineering and engineering technology are a part of,” stated Mirante. Through the CCSU/SPS Partnership students will have the opportunity to become more aware of potential career choices in STEM fields and the prerequisite course choices required to successfully prepare for post-high school STEM education. However, an awareness of STEM opportunities is only the beginning.

Preparation is Key
Mirante pointed out that “during our discussion with the CCSU deans, it became apparent that many students entering college engineering programs are not sufficiently prepared for the rigorous coursework they will encounter within engineering. Unfortunately, many students not only lack the prerequisite math and science skills but also have a very challenging time making connections to the engineering concepts related to how products are designed, fabricated, and tested.” The CCSU/SPS collaborative determined that it was important that this preparation begin prior to high school.

Middle School
Thus, it was determined that an annual expo at the middle schools would be held. During lunch waves students in grades 7 and 8 will have the chance to speak with college students and professors from CCSU who will informally discuss career opportunities and education requirements. This student experience is expected not only to generate interest in technology and engineering education but also to further expose students to the multiple facets of STEM.

Educators Expand Knowledge
The CCSU/SPS Partnership will broaden Southington educators’ knowledge in STEM content areas. Math teachers, science teachers, technology and engineering teachers, and school counselors at the middle schools and high school will take a “Get on the Bus” STEM related faculty trip to CCSU during an early release professional development day. Through engagement in meaningful, hands-on experiences with technologies and equipment not otherwise available at Southington High School, educators will be able to bring new knowledge to their students.

High School
During the 2016-2017 school year, approximately 300 Southington High School (SHS) students enrolled in technology and engineering education classes will tour the CCSU lab facilities in CCSU’s School of Engineering and Technology. Additionally, 120 SHS Project Lead the Way (PLTW) students will take part in an interactive lab experience, including hands-on activities at CCSU. According to Mirante, PLTW is a nationally recognized engineering program aimed towards inspiring students to pursue careers in engineering and engineering technology. Southington High’s PLTW program consists of five sequenced courses designed to prepare highly motivated students to enter a four-year engineering college or engineering technology career after high school.
Mirante stated, “Southington High has perhaps one of the best Technology and Engineering programs in the state. The program and facility are like no other in that it offers students with varying interests a range of experiences relating to construction, communication, engineering, transportation, and manufacturing technologies to gain crucial life skills as well as explore potential college and career paths. It is my mission to do everything possible to help students realize the countless career opportunities available to them within STEM fields as well as how the world around them is designed to function.”

Partnership to Expand
The future expansion of the CCSU/SPS partnership can be translated to exciting opportunities. CCSU has agreed to assist in developing a network of college graduates who will share their career experiences at Southington Schools Career Days and at guest speaker presentations. Mandancy related that Southington teachers will receive continued professional development at CCSU in STEM areas and labs. Additionally, the Southington High School Technology and Engineering Department will hold an Open House to market, educate, and showcase courses to help students prepare for a variety of STEM careers. Finally, public communications will be developed to accurately inform the public of STEM opportunities and requirements and to perhaps change previous misconceptions.

STEM in Central Connecticut
The CCSU/ SPS partnership also provides the university opportunity to inform and educate Southington’s residents about the excellent educational STEM programs and facilities located in our neighboring community at its School of Engineering and Technology. Madancy stated, “Southington students are fortunate to have the opportunity to be exposed to, and learn about, all that Central Connecticut State University has to offer in the fields of engineering and manufacturing. Our hope is that by providing these extension opportunities to our students, we can open their eyes to the career potential that exists right in the state of Connecticut. We are grateful to the Southington Education Foundation for their continued support of STEAM opportunities for our students.” The Southington Education Foundation envisions this partnership as an expansive, innovative program that will affect students, educators, parents, and residents of the community.

Southington Education
Foundation
P.O. Box 42
Southington, CT 06489
SEF.Donations@gmail.com