The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 11, 2005


Carlisle kids enjoy after-school science and technology classes

After a second round of successful science-related clubs, STEP (the Science, Technology, and Engineering Program) is in full swing at Carlisle School. Answering a call from the Massachusetts STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Collaborative to increase science education with hands-on experiences, STEM member and Superintendent of Schools Marie Doyle met with parents Ginny Lamere, Paul McCormack, Kathy McKinley, Walter Hickman, Laura Marshall, and Fran Rayson in the spring of 2005. Their goal was to explore ways to bring more hands-on science into the school and to identify community members who had expertise in science, technology and engineering. "This is a partnership between the school and the community," explained Lamere. "It's run by the parents who have science experience, partnering with Carlisle teachers."

Pilot program in summer

Derrick Amodei (with cap) and Eric Sweet construct a radio circuit in the Electricity and Electronics class. (Photo by Ginny Lamere)

Using training from Tufts University students, the school offered two pilot classes during the summer of 2005: LEGO Robotics, attended by Carlisle teachers Liz Gray and Peter Darasz, and Build a Computer, led Hickman, a physicist, who volunteered his time.

Program begun

The pilot program was popular and, after receiving a grant of approximately $2000 from the CEF for materials, four classes were offered after school from October to the middle of November: Water, Water Everywhere (K — 2), run by Carlisle teacher Mimi Chandler with parents Marshall and Sandy Nash, and Car Engine for Boys and Car Engine for Girls (3-5), taught by parent John Bakewell with Carlisle School Technology Specialist Cyd McCann.

Classes over-enrolled

In Water, Water Everywhere the students experimented with the water cycle and properties of buoyancy. One popular session studied the interaction of water and salt while making ice cream.

The students had lots of fun exploring the inside of a 1970 Toyota engine in Car Engine for Boys/Girls. Bakewell had sliced open, cleaned, and set up special removable parts, allowing the students to remove, study, and replace various parts.

Kindergarten teacher Mimi Chandler leads the activities in Water, Water Everywhere offered for grades K-2. Participants include (left to right) Elizabeth Quinlan, Jordan Farrow, Megan Herr and Eric Marshall. (Photo by Ginny Lamere)

In the Electricity class students used snap circuit boards to create working electronics such as fans and lights. In addition, the students used electronics software to design and build circuit boards. "You can see the current moving down the wires," said Lamere. The classes for the younger grades were so popular they had waiting lists. Electricity was not full, which was probably due to conflicts with sports, music, and other commitments, said Lamere.

Expanded winter classes

Building on the success, signup has begun for winter classes, which include: Water, Water Everywhere (K — 2), Simple Machines (K — 2), Digital Diary/Journal (3 — 5), LEGO Robotics (3 — 5), and Electronics (6 — 8). The Tufts web sites explains the LEGO Robotics class as: "Students use LEGO bricks and ROBOLAB software as they design, build, and program robotic creations. Each child is encouraged to work within his/her own abilities and explore new approaches and understandings along the way."

Parent instructor Kevin Brown and sixth-grade teacher Wendy Stack help students Parker Brophy (right) and Ben Rizkin (left) put together a circuit in the Electricity and Electronics class at the Carlisle School. (Photo by Susan Goodall)
Materials to be used in curriculum

The cost of the classes has been increased to cover the stipends for the teachers. Using an additional grant of roughly $8000 from the CEF allowed the program to purchase enough materials to enable Carlisle teachers to use the same material in a class, a goal of the program. Teachers such as third-grade teacher Jen Lyons are planning to use the electronics materials within their curriculums. McCormack, a Computer Engineering professor at Tufts, has been assisting Lyons. Eventually, with the bulk of the materials purchased through the grants, the STEP program should be self-sustaining through the class fees.

The final round of classes in the spring may include Food Science (K — 2), Structures (3 — 5), LEGO robotics (6 — 8), DNA Experiments (6 — 8), and Electricity/Electronics (6 — 8). For more information or to volunteer to help in the sessions contact Ginny Lamere at 1-978-369-8210 or Jen Lyons at

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito