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Woodbridge students elbow deep in science

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For students who can’t get enough math and science, St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School in Woodbridge offers the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program. If the STEM-loving students have the grades and score well on a qualifying test, they can enter the program, where they’ll take advanced classes at Aquinas and online classes through the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

The program begins in the fifth grade and by eighth grade the students are taking geometry and robotics. Each November, the STEM eighth graders, as well as members of the school’s robotics club, compete in the FIRST Lego League (FLL) competition, where students work together to program a robot and complete a project relevant to the year’s theme.

“In 2018, the FLL competition theme was related to space and the students were required to develop a project to make time in space more comfortable,” said Jenni Mendell, the school’s STEM coordinator and middle school math teacher. “The students created magnetic cards so that astronauts could play cards that would not float away in space,” a project that won them first place, she said.

Mendell is proud of the opportunities she believes the STEM program will give her students. “The Aquinas students are getting hands-on opportunities to analyze and problem solve daily in these advanced classes,” she said. “The Aquinas STEM program is giving these students an edge in the field and helping them become leaders in the industry.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020