Bucks County Herald

Solebury School STEM Week inspires future scientists

Solebury School students and faculty tour Minimus, the tiny house.

Solebury School hosted its fourth annual STEM Week Oct. 21 to 26.

Inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists, STEM Week incorporates math and science into the curriculum with a number of demonstrations, lectures and interactive activities.

The week is meant not only to engage the entire school with those subjects, but also to inspire thinking about STEM-related careers. STEM Week 2018 had a special focus on environmental sustainability.

Highlights from the week included a sustainable tiny house.

Created in 2017 as a sustainable building demonstration at Delaware Valley University, Minimus is the vision of Melissa Matarese and was “brought to life by the hands and hearts of local businesses and volunteers.” The 240-square-foot home is powered by the sun and constructed of 90 percent renewable, recyclable, and re-purposed materials. It is now used as an educational tool for raising consciousness about sustainability in everyday life and to empower individuals to turn their dreams into reality.

Solebury School Honors Environmental Science students drafted and constructed tiny house models of their own. They toured tour Melissa’s house and got real-world answers to their questions about how it runs and how it was built.

Landscape designer Amy Sanchez Hamilton of Bucks Country Gardens spoke to Honors Environmental Science and Honors Biology students. Sharing her education, career path, and day-to-day work, we learned about horticulture, landscape design, and how climate change has forced her industry to adapt to new circumstances.

Math and science students enjoyed a presentation by pilot Wayne Fowler, who has worked for the Air Force and Delta Airlines. He discussed the mechanics of flight, what happens to your body in flight, and he shared an entertaining video of him experiencing a centrifuge machine.

Meanwhile, Solebury’s Anatomy and Physiology students learned from a local paramedic and EMT workers what it’s like saving lives for a living, sometimes in potentially dangerous situations – the stress, intensity, and incredible rewards of their jobs. They brought students to their vehicles to show them the equipment, tools and medicines they use.

Two alums returned to campus. Riley Murphy, Class of 2002, Ph.D., the technical director of NMS Labs, spoke to the Chemistry and Honors Biology classes about spectrometry, choosing chemistry as a potential career path and the education required, and he led the students in an experiment. Dr. Cynthia Keler, Class of 1979, a professor at Delaware Valley University, gave two presentations on Microbiology, engaging students in a debate of “Are viruses living or not?”

Solebury School junior Alex Rosenfeld, Class of 2020, gave a terrific presentation on the “trash to treasure” side business he launched reselling items on eBay that he’d purchased at garage sales, and how he transitioned into selling used car parts found in junkyards.

Every year, Solebury School assigns math classes a problem to solve by the final day of STEM Week. This year’s problem: Predict the total amount of food composted by Solebury School’s dining hall staff in one week. The final amount weighed in at roughly under 100 pounds, and it was Britta Milks’ Algebra II class that had the most accurate estimate at 75 pounds.


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