Category Archives: Great ideas

NSHS DaVinci STEAM Program is Underway

Newton South’s new STEAM-focused, collaborative, interdisciplinary program — DaVinci — started this fall with a cohort of 22 Sophomores who are studying various intersections of Theory of Creativity, Biochemistry, and Math. Terms they use to describe the experience so far:  Hands-on, engaged, entertaining, individualized, outside the box. Recent questions: What is life? What is creative life? How do we model life? Can you find an object with a mathematical pattern in it and describe the pattern with an equation?

Russian School of Math Volunteers at Boys & Girls Club

DSC_2641Selected high-school students from the Russian School of Math are volunteering at the John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club to engage B&G Club members in Grades 2-4 in the wonder and fun of mathematics.  The program is in its fourth week and will continue through May, with the expectation that it will be repeated in following years.  Sixteen RSM high-school students were selected for the program based on their interest in teaching and their ability to relate well with elementary students.  Each Thursday, 8 of them come to the B&G Club, under the supervision of an RSM teacher, for an hour of math teaching and games with 16 B&G Club members.  Each RSM volunteer and each B&G Club member involved has made a year-long commitment.  The program is free for B&G Club members, offered as part of RSM’s community-appreciation activities.  (B&G Club membership is open to all for $125 per family per year.)

Vote for NPS Calculus Project in Belmont Savings Bank’s Grant Poll

Until November 6, Newton residents can vote in the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation‘s poll to help direct how the foundation will award grants of $2,000 to $10,000 to local charitable organizations.  Among the candidates is the Newton Schools Foundation to support The Calculus Project, an NPS program to narrow achievement gaps in mathematics by increasing the number of low-income African American and Hispanic American students enrolling in and completing Calculus in high school.  The program began last summer with 95 students, modeled after one that started in Brookline in 2009.  It starts with an intensive four-week summer program and continues support through tutoring in the school year.  A grant of $10,000 would support 10 students.

NSHS Da Vinci Program: Full STEAM Ahead!

Newton South HS is set to launch next fall its Da Vinci Program, an interdisciplinary, project-based, collaborative STEAM (STEM + Arts) learning environment.  The sophomore level of the program will start with about 46 students in the class of 2018, and for each of the next two years another sophomore cohort will be added as students move up in the program.  This year, NSHS teachers in Math, Biology, Chemistry, and Art have been planning together and visiting relevant programs in other schools.  Themes of the Da Vinci program will include:  What is life?  What is change?  How do we manage it?  What is the role of the individual?  Students in all curriculum levels will work together in these sophomore courses: Continue reading

Newton South HS PTSO Seeks Funding for STEAM Learning Lab

Following the success of its Global Communities program, Newton South HS will initiate next year the STEAM Learning Lab, a small learning community focused on project-based collaboration in all STEM fields and the Arts. The program will begin with a pilot for 10th graders next year. Students will “build skills in experimentation, analytical problem solving, collaboration, presentation, communication, and artistic representation through authentic and student-driven learning.” steamlearninglab-300x285

The Newton South PTSO’s Success@South fundraising campaign aims to raise $20,000 to equip the STEAM Learning Lab, augmenting funding from Newton Public Schools and other sources.  Donations are tax-deductible.  Potential purchases include:

  • 3-D Printer and modeling software for visualization and realization of student designs and mathematical concepts
  • Interactive smart glass projection board allowing real-time collaboration among students
  • DNA Fingerprinting kit to launch studies in forensic science
  • Biodiesel processing equipment to enhance students’ understanding of green technologies
  • Green solar plate etching equipment enabling chemistry explorations through Intaglio print making
  • Drafting tables for student conceptualization, design, and illustration of ideas

A Guide for Developing STEM Clubs

The Arizona STEM Network is in its third year of promoting and funding STEM Clubs with supplies, teacher stipends, and professional development.  After starting with pilots in 11 schools, it aims to have 200 clubs in Arizona schools by the end of this year.  This collaboration of business, educators, elected officials, and philanthropic organizations has prepared on online STEM Club Guide for teachers, administrators, and funders to develop clubs, both in and outside Arizona.

Wellesley STEM Expo — Video Recap and Lessons Learned

Back on April 5, about 3,500 people attended the first Wellesley STEM Expo, presented by the Wellesley Education Foundation.  Anyone who would like to have a similar event in Newton may be interested in this video of the Wellesley event as well as these lessons learned (as reported by the Wellesley STEM Expo committee to the MetroWest STEM Education Network Advisory Board):

  • Establish a clear vision and committed group as the planning committee
  • Recruit more volunteers than you expect to need — because you will need them
  • Publicity is critical
  • Create a teen advisory committee during the planning phase and create a strong social media presence
  • Generous sponsors are essential

Newton North Science Team Raising Funds Through Odd Jobs

The Newton North Science Team is raising money for team expenses by doing small jobs such as leaf raking, snow shoveling, wall painting, wallpaper removal, etc.  Hours are fairly flexible and prices are negotiable.  The money raised helps to offset team expenses including competition registration fees, textbooks, and materials for “build-ahead” events.  The team pays for all tools and materials that are used for the Science Olympiad competition, including carbon fiber, wood, metal, saws, drills, screws, etc.  The final cost for one academic year for the Olympiad alone is usually between $2000 and $3000. Please contact the team about fundraisers at

Come See NNHS InvenTeam’s Life-Saving Invention, March 28

Come see what Newton can invent — and see how you can help!  The NewtonSTEM community is invited to Newton North HS at 5PM on March 28 for the InvenTeam’s presentation of its invention — a Pedestrian Alert System to save lives in Ethiopia.  The team is one of 16 nationwide to win a grant of $10,000 for experimenting and prototyping for its invention.   The team now seeks local sponsors to help fund actual fabrication.  (You can donate online to help the team meet its goal.)  The event will be held in Room 121 (Design & Visual Communications Technology Lab) of Newton North HS, 457 Walnut Street, Newtonville, MA.

Notes from the Mass. STEM Summit: Focus on Instilling STEM Identity

The statewide Massachusetts STEM Summit was held Oct. 18 at Gillette Stadium, with 1200 attendees.

  • Astronaut Cady Coleman, in her keynote, spoke of the need not just to inform and inspire, but to help students — particularly girls and under-represented minorities — to identify as STEM folks, to see themselves in STEM careers.
  • The Girl Scouts noted a survey showing that 74% of girls state an interest in STEM, but only 13% say they are considering a STEM career.
  • Science Club for Girls enrolls not only community volunteers but also “near-peer” mentors, who learn to see themselves as people who can talk and teach STEM as they work with K-6th Grade students.
  • Milton High School’s technology club teaches 4th-5th graders in a four-day summer session on robotics — raising money for the high-school program, inspiring the next generation of kids, and teaching the high schoolers a bit about teaching.
  • Boston University runs the Artemis Project (a five-week summer program in which Computer Science undergraduate women introduce rising 9th grade girls to computer science) and a one-week Summer Pathways program (for rising Juniors and Senior girls to explore STEM careers).
  • And it was good to hear Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Paul Reville, speak of his visit to the Innovation Lab at Newton North HS last February.