Long-running STEM event brings students together
In recent years the term STEM, referring to the application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math concepts, has grown increasingly popular in academic circles. But did you know that our own Adventureland amusement park hosts one of the oldest and best STEM events in the nation?
Orchestrated by the Long Island Technology & Engineering Education Association (LITEEA) since 2001, Technology Day is attended by more than 2,200 middle school students from public, private and Catholic schools. Split into two days to accommodate the crowd, the STEM event, which began in 2001, returned to Adventureland recently for a mix of fun and work. The event, attended by students from 40 schools, 34 of them Catholic, is an outdoor classroom where students get to ride the rides, but then have to complete a workbook that connects the concepts they are learning in school to the mechanics, design, operation or ergonomics of the rides at the park.
“Our goal has always been to keep the middle school students in our schools on the leading edge of technology and science,” said Emily Guarnieri, director of technology for the Department of Education from the Diocese of Rockville Centre. “This event uses the amusement park rides to illustrate the practical application of many complex concepts that our students are introduced to in class.”
Introduced in 2001 by Joe Fili, a retired teacher and an officer of LITEEA, the event has come into its own in recent years as the concept of STEM education has taken hold.
“The teachers whose classes participate come to a workshop the week before the event where they are introduced to 13 teaching concepts that are illustrated by the rides.” said Fili, one of the founders of Technology Day. “They choose the four or five rides that best align with their classroom curriculum and create a custom workbook that their students complete during the day. It is quite an unusual sight to see and hear the squeals of delight of the students on the rides as you are standing in the middle of groups of students working to complete their workbooks.”
As the park cleared out from another successful Technology Day, Fili and Guarniei have already begun the discussion on what new concepts could be added for next year to continue to highlight the intersection of educational concepts and practical, real-world applications.