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Teachers from China Learn about STEM Education at CREC Academy of Science and Innovation

(New Britain, CT) CREC Academy of Science of Innovation hosted a group of 30 administrators and teachers from Qingdao #2 High School in the Shandong Province of China who were interested in learning about STEM education in United States schools. Principal Robert McCain welcomed them and gave a brief overview of the school’s philosophy, stating students are preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet.“Our students are the generation who has never been without technology and they are preparing for a workforce that hasn’t been invented,” he said. McCain was also very clear about the goal of the visit, “We need to learn from each other to stay competitive in the global market. I have lots of questions for you and would like to know more about how education works in China.The group of visitors included several administrators, as well as elementary and secondary music, art, math, science, history and physical education teachers. Their goal for the day was to learn about STEM education in a U.S. school: how STEM is integrated across the different disciplines and how teachers design their lessons and assess student understanding in these courses. After introductions, the group learned about CREC’s “theme specific” magnet schools and about how the CREC Academy of Science and Innovation is organized into three distinct pathways: biotechnology, environmental engineering, and computer science and robotics. In their sophomore year students select one of the pathways to focus on for their coursework. Seniors complete a capstone project based on their chosen pathway. Teachers spent time observing classrooms to see how STEM concepts are integrated into the general education classroom. Teachers observed a 10th grade genetics course, an 11th grade robotics course, a middle school robotics course, a 6th integrated science course, and a computer coding course, as well as several English and math courses. The teachers from Qingdao asked questions through an interpreter and CREC teachers explained the work that students were doing. After classroom visits, the group participated in a presentation put on by STEM theme coaches Lauren Amaturo and Crystal Caouette, who explained inquiry based instruction and three-dimensional learning aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. CREC was invited to host the group and Innovation was one of several stops during the week for the group. The group had visits scheduled at several other schools around the state, including CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering and CREC Discovery Academy, as well as several universities. They were led by Daniel Gregg, who is the Director of International Programs at the Connecticut State Department of Education.Gregg has been organizing these learning exchanges between the U.S. and China for more than 20 years. He said the group got a great deal of information from their experience. He commented that it was rare to see a group “this engaged” as they participated in several small group activities planned to help them better understand what a typical science lesson aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards would look like in an American classroom.3566160171450000-43942032956500###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 16 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

CREC Aerospace Academy Student Experiment Sent Aboard Record-Setting Glider Flight in Argentina

What’s better than having your science experiment flown aboard one of the most sophisticated gliders in the world? Having that same aircraft break the world’s altitude record for glider flight with your experiment on board! On Sunday, September 3, 2017, Airbus Perlan Mission II, the world’s first initiative to send an engineless aircraft to the edge of space, made history in the Patagonia region of Argentina by soaring to over 52,000 feet and setting a new world altitude record for gliding. Students from the CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering and their advisor Rachael Manzer, science and engineering teacher at the Academy, joined students, scientists and international press for a Skype news conference arranged by Perlan Project CEO Ed Warnock to officially announce the record-breaking flight.CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering students and their advisors, Manzer and Josh Madore, have been working for two years designing, building and testing their own NASA Cubesat experiments to be taken aboard high altitude flights of the Perlan II, as well as a NASA test rocket. Their project explores the effect of vibration and weightlessness on a byproduct of soldering electrical components called Tin Whiskers.” These tiny floating pieces of metal can be a major problem that can plague sophisticated electronics when launched into orbit. The student’s experiments were designed to collect data about when and how this hazard is created and ways it could be minimized in future missions. Little did the students realize that their project would be part of a milestone of aerospace history! We are celebrating an amazing victory for aerospace innovation and scientific discovery today, and we’re so thankful to all the volunteers and sponsors whose years of tireless dedication have made this achievement possible,” said Warnock. We will continue to strive for even higher altitudes, and to continue our scientific experiments to explore the mysteries of the stratosphere. We’ve made history, but the learning has just begun.” Part of the purpose for testing such high altitude gliders is that the conditions mimic those that aircraft would have to confront on the planet Mars. The thinner atmosphere and intensive winds of the red planet present numerous challenges to both the design and the piloting of such craft.For 10th grader Johnathan B., being part of such a project brings him one step closer to his dream, I have wanted to be an astronaut since I was a little kid and this just inspires me even more.” Ninth grade student Ava K. was intrigued by the pivotal role the science of meteorology played in the project, I really think I want to be a meteorologist and study the weather when I get older.”The significance of such Real World” projects for student were summed up best by Manzer, Fantastic opportunities such as these inspire students to picture themselves in STEM careers regardless of their background, race or gender. Working on these projects with actual scientists, captivates their imagination and allows them to envision themselves as the scientists, engineers, explorers and creators, of the future society in which they will live whether it be on earth or out among the planets.”The Skype press conference featured: Perlan CEO Ed Warnick with the Perlan II team in Argentina, Elizabeth Austin, Perlan chief meteorologist in Nevada, Caroline Gelb at the World Science Festival, as well as international press and students from schools in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and from the CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor CT. You can find out more about the project by going to links for the Airbus Perlan Mission II: http://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2017/09/perlan-sets-new-world-record.html the Cubesat Project http://www.cubesat.org/ or CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering: http://aaen.crecschools.org/1983740-98552000###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 19 interdistrict magnet schools.  More information about CREC or CREC’s award-winning Magnet Schools is available at www.crec.org.

Capitol Region Education Council Celebrates FallStaff 51, Emphasizes Importance of New Core Values

More than 2,000 CREC employees representing 120 programs and services within the organization – from magnet schools to adult education and construction services to professional development – gathered at the Hartford Yard Goats Dunkin’ Donuts Park early Friday morning for FallStaff 51, an annual pep rally meant to energize everyone in attendance for the upcoming year. FallStaff, a tradition that started when CREC was founded 51 years ago, is the one time during the year when all CREC employees come together in one place. This year, the newly adopted core values – expect excellence, demand equity, act with courage and embrace collaboration – took center stage at the event with speakers and videos emphasizing their value to the organization. CREC Executive Director Greg J. Florio said, “It is important to understand why we are all driven to live and work by those values and how important they are to assuring CREC fulfills its mission.”As the keynote speaker, CREC Deputy Executive Director Sandra Cruz-Serrano offered a single piece of advice.“Never underestimate the child, the parent, the person in front of you. Her looks, limited English, her zip code, her SAT scores are absolutely no indicator of her future success,” she said. “Be careful, for she may even be your boss one day!”CREC Superintendent of Schools Tim Sullivan said, “Moving forward Hartford Public Schools and CREC are going to work together on behalf of all children. It should not natter what color uniform you wear, we are here to help all children. The days of competition are over, we are ready to collaborate.” The new minor league baseball stadium in downtown Hartford was a perfect setting for a fun-filled, baseball-themed program. Staff snapped selfies with Yard Goats mascots Chompers and Chew Chew. CREC River Street School employee Carlos Perez, the longest tenured employee at CREC, kicked off the event with a ceremonial first pitch. There was a build-a-burger race and a T-shirt toss. Videos of employees describing how they apply the core values to their work played on the stadium screens, as well as videos of students and staff explaining why CREC 2017 award winners deserve recognition. The 2017 CREC Paraeducator of the Year, Victoria Gonzales from CREC International Magnet School for Global Citizenship, and the 2017 CREC Teacher of the Year, Krista Beyer from CREC University of Hartford Magnet School, were announced over the stadium speakers and they walked to home plate to accept their awards. Alan Daley of CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle School received the 2017 CREC Distinguished Service Award. Long-serving staff members were also recognized. FallStaff also celebrated the upcoming 50th anniversary of CREC River Street School and the school’s director, Tom Parvenski, was presented with a special recognition.A heartfelt thank you goes to students from the former CREC Two Rivers High School, Alexander Ello (Two Rivers class of 2017), and Austin Raymond-Tricka (CREC Academy of Science and Innovation class of 2018) and to Bob Polselli, engineering and technology teacher, for providing drone footage of CREC facilities used in the event’s introductory video. FallStaff is coordinated and directed internally. It is largely funded by the generosity of sponsors, including top sponsor Owens Realty Services. Other sponsors are: Sullivan Investment Group, Transamerica Retirement Solutions, Aflac, American Eagle Financial Credit Union, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dattco, Delta-T Group, eesmarts, Friar Associates, Massage Envy, and Valley Communications.8382062357000083820191135002767330419417500###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 19 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC or CREC’s award-winning magnet schools is available at www.crec.orgAthletics captains from CREC high schools came together with CRILA students to discuss the role and traits of leaders.

CREC Students Explore Connecticut Ecosystems, Study Insect Species During Summer Biodiversity Camp

When Ariana Patterson, a 17-year-old at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, looks at plants, she sees more than just greenery and foliage – she sees small ecosystems with the plants and insects exchanging benefits. As a teaching assistant at Biodiversity Camp at CREC Two Rivers Middle School this year, Ariana shared this perspective with the middle and high school students at the weeklong summer camp.“You have to think of it as a more important piece of the puzzle. You start to look at it as even if it’s small or a little creepy it has some significance that can’t just be brushed off. It makes you want to learn more about it and want to protect it,” said Ariana, who first attended the camp a few years ago as a middle school student at CREC Two Rivers Middle School.Biodiversity Camp, organized by CREC Two Rivers Middle School Science Teacher Edmund Smith and Dr. David Wagner, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Connecticut, is a free camp where participants get the opportunity to investigate the biodiversity of local ecosystems and learn how to identify common insects and plants.The camp is geared towards extreme enrichment with students that have already proven themselves energetic, focused and comfortable with extended field studies, said Smith.“This camp is not meant to give students their first experiences in field studies. Several students have chosen college and career paths in the biological sciences following their experiences with the Biodiversity Camp,” he said.Biodiversity Camp took place from June 26th - 30th this year. The camp had 20 high school and middle school students. About half were CREC students, 40 percent came from Hartford Public Schools and the rest were from other districts.Jacob Kuczek, 13, a student at CREC Two Rivers Middle, said he and other camp participants explored the Fenton River near UConn, the Connecticut River and Matianuck Natural Area Preserve.“We explored a bit, everyone in the camp got nets to catch insects. We brushed the nets through the grass and looked to see if we caught anything,” he said.Insects that were caught – milkweed beetles, black fireflies, spiders, moths, among others – were either frozen to be examined under a microscope or kept alive.“The purpose of keeping them alive is to study their behavior, what they eat,” said Jacob.Students attended the camp during the day. On the last night, campers competed in a BioBlitz – a contest to see who could catch and identify the most insects - until midnight and slept at CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School. This is the camp’s third summer, with the first and second camps running in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, camp organizers focused on a statewide CT BioBlitz where CREC Two Rivers Middle School set a world record of most organisms identified in a 24-hour period.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 16 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

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