Last Wednesday, the administration at St. Stan’s and community leaders cut the ribbon to their new STREAM Lab, which incorporates education in science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics in one place.
The high-tech classroom features robots, 3D virtual reality, 3D printers and a host of other learning tools. Students can design their own laptops, use new tablets and write on modern whiteboards.
Even kindergarten students are learning the fundamentals of coding, according to St. Stan’s principal Catherine Mangone.
“STREAM engaged all students, younger and older, male and female,” Mangone said. “It’s critical for student development in the 21st century.”
According to the principal, studies show that the earlier you introduce STREAM education, the more likely students will be interested in those subjects. As a result, students are more engaged with creating, building and curiosity, she said.
Mangone said having this dedicated space will empower students to engage in “high-level problem solving.” It will provide them with skills that broaden their future careers, from technical careers to critical thinking, communication and collaboration, she said.
“Here at St. Stan’s, we know that the skills our students will learn in the STREAM Lab are applicable to every single thing they do,” Mangone said.
Stephanie Giordano, the school’s new STREAM Lab facilitator, said in the United States, a projected 2.4 million STREAM jobs will go unfulfilled in 2019 and 2020.
It’s not due to a lack of interest, she said, but because not enough people in the workforce have the requisite skills for those jobs.
“The future is here and it requires knowledge of STREAM,” she said.
According to Giordano, STREAM occupations outearned every other field by 20 to 30 percent across education levels.
The issue is not the demand, but rather the lack of education offered to students at an early age.
“STREAM education is not something that is typically ingrained or presented early or often enough in the lives of today’s children,” she said.
Giordano, who graduated from college with a degree in biology, actually began a master’s program in cellular and molecular biology. But she quickly switched to a master’s in teaching so she could one day teach STREAM and “change the hearts of all of these children,” she said.
Students have already attended classes inside the STREAM Lab over the last few weeks, according to eighth-grader Emma Rosemond, president of the Student Leadership Committee. She said she has heard wonderful comments from her peers.
“Every student is absolutely loving it,” she said, “and it’s very exciting to have this as part of our day.”
In the first week, the students were introduced to the new robots, which they soon learned to program using their new iPads.
“We’re able to make them do all kinds of tasks,” Rosemond said.
Last week, students even assembled their own laptops. Others are already coding on them.
“I never would have thought that middle schoolers would be able to build and create their own computers,” she said. “The STREAM Lab has allowed us to do things that high school students would do.”
Rosemond added that the lab is helping prepare students as young as kindergarten for middle school and high school.
“I love the STREAM Lab because not only does it teach me a lot,” she said, “it’s also extremely fun.”
Eighth-grade student Michelle Ramirez said their new space will give students a better understanding of what they want to learn in the future.
“There’s not many places like this, and it’s something different for all of us,” she said. “It’s definitely going to help us learn something new.”
Ramirez, like Rosemond, are set to graduate at the end of this school year, but wish they had more time with the new lab.
“I don’t want to leave, I’m not ready,” said Ramirez, who has been at St. Stan’s since the first grade. “I love everything about this school.”
The STREAM Lab was the idea of the St. Stan’s Endowment Committee, which is comprised of nine community members, including senior staff of Maspeth Federal Savings. The bank donated $250,000 to help build the lab.
Tom Rudzewick, president and CEO of Maspeth Federal Savings and a St. Stan’s alumnus from the class of 1979, said he’s proud to help provide for the next generation of students and residents of Maspeth.
“Our company prides itself on giving back to the community,” Rudzewick said. “This is such a wonderful achievement for the entire community.”