Summer-Time Learning with the Long Island STEAM Committee

Post in News by Emily Brenseke on 5th July 2017




















The Long Island STEAM Committee hosted its third meeting on June 28th at the Kings Park Central School District’s William T. Rodger Middle School to help support their STEM summer camp. Members, along with fifty-three STEM camp students, participated in two hands-on activities, one high-tech and one low-tech, led by Teq’s team of certified Professional Development Specialists.

Committee members present:
  1. Tim Eagen, Superintendent, Kings Park Central School District
  2. Ralph Cartisano, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Kings Park Central School District
  3. Mary Brower, Director of Technology, St. Agnes Cathedral School
  4. Fran Barricelli, Library Media Specialist, St. Agnes Cathedral School
  5. Kelly Magas, Teacher, St. Agnes Cathedral School
  6. Kristina Holzweiss, Library Media Specialist and founder of Long Island Leads, Bayshore Middle School
  7. Kerri Welch-Pollera, Director of Technology, 3 Village Central School District
  8. Diane McCabe, Chairperson of Science, Herricks Middle School
  9. Artie Weissbach, Director of Technology, Harbor Country Day School
As with our previous meetings, the committee had a great discussion on how to engage students in STEAM topics:

There will always be a place for both high-tech and low-tech

Artie Weissbach, Technology Director at Harbor Country Day School, spoke about how he teaches his early childhood and lower-school students binary code by learning to write their names. Students are also taught to write programming flowcharts around what they do when they get home (i.e. eat dinner, brush your teeth, etc.). On the flip side of that, he encourages his young students to learn using modern technology, such as the Bee-Bot. Committee members agreed that teaching students using low-tech lessons enables them to understand the basics behind the high-tech tools that they utilize daily.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Attendees agreed that both students and teachers are conditioned to fear failure, and both tend to ask for step-by-step instructions. This approach doesn’t emphasize the importance of making mistakes to arrive at a solution—a process that most STEAM mental models facilitate.

Kelly Magas, a teacher at St. Agnes Cathedral School, tells her students that she, “doesn’t grade them based on whether or not they fail because it is about the process.” This mentality has completely changed the dynamic of her classroom. Students are more positive, inquisitive, and willing to help one another. Her colleague, Fran Barricelli, points out that encouraging students to make mistakes to arrive at a solution promotes high self-esteem and self-discovery.

Kelly isn’t afraid to speak about her personal failures either. “I tell my students that they’re teaching me and I am teaching them.” Library Media Specialist and founder of Long Island Leads, Kristina Holzweiss, agrees that showing students that teachers experience failure too is just as important as encouraging them to fail. “I need them to know that I am human too. If they point out a spelling error on my exams or presentation, I give them extra-credit points.” Artie also agrees, admitting that he often tells his student’s that “I don’t know how to do it, so we have got to figure it out together.”

Learning together breaks down barriers

When the committee members joined the students in both activities, the campers were expecting to learn something from them. One young girl even asked Fran, “What are you going to teach me today?” To her surprise, Fran was there to learn too.

It was the general consensus that all committee members loved being able to see the campers learn, and some even had the students teach them something new. Learning and discovering something new together was exciting, but most importantly, allowed students to see that teachers are always learning.

Be a part of the team

To contribute your voice to the Long Island STEAM Committee, contact us about participating at our next meeting. The Long Island STEAM Committee meets monthly and is open to all Long Island educators. The committee is especially looking to hear from district administrators who are passionate about STEAM and would like to share their insight and expertise.

To learn more about the Long Island STEAM Committee and how to participate, email Emily Brenseke at

If you are not on Long Island, contact us about participating in the New York City STEAM Committee, or hosting a committee meeting in your region.

Other STEAM Committee Blog Posts

Expert Takeaways from Long Island’s STEAM Committee-

4 Ways to Approach STEAM Initiatives – Findings from Long Island’s STEAM Committee-

What Does STEAM Mean to You? Answers from the NYC STEAM Committee-

For more information on Teq’s STEAM Consulting Services visit the STEAM Consulting section of our site.

Leave a Reply