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Dec 4, 2017 6:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary Lifts Curtain On New STREAM Lab

The first grade class at the Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School uses the new STREAM Lab during their science class. KATE RIGA
Dec 5, 2017 2:46 PM

The new laboratory in the Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School sits quiet and peaceful late Friday afternoon, interrupted only by the soft humming of the filter in the fish tank. Soon, though, a chorus of young voices grows louder from down the hallway, crescendoing as the first grade class excitedly bursts through the doors, eager to participate in an entirely new kind of science lesson.

The Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics—or STREAM—lab that garners such enthusiasm is a new addition to the small school. Sited in the refurbished library, the lab was constructed over the summer, with all the finishing touches completed by October, according to Superintendent and Principal Dr. Ron Masera.

Funding for the project came through the efforts of State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. after he reached out to Dr. Masera last year, while looking for worthwhile projects to fund from the Aid to Education section of the state budget known as “Bullet Aid.”

“Bullet Aid is discretionary funding outside of the existing school aid formula, meaning it is directed by the Legislature,” Mr. Thiele said on Monday. “We pass a special resolution each year allocating these funds.”

Other projects that received similar aid this year include the pre-kindergarten program at East Quogue Elementary School and special aid to parents of high-need students in the Center Moriches School District.

Dr. Masera sent Mr. Thiele his district’s “wish list” and they got $25,000 to build the new lab.

“It was just a dark little library before,” Dr. Masera said. “We pulled up all the carpets, installed new outlets, put in science tables and painted the walls.”

Shelves are now laden with beakers and microscopes, research books line the walls, and paint and Legos occupy the drawers.

“It’s a whole new way to teach,” said Laureen Andria, the elementary school’s library media specialist. “We can really give hands-on support to this next generation.”

Those excited first-graders got to enjoy this new way of learning during their afternoon science class last week. They broke up into three groups to explore all of the different disciplines the lab encompasses. At one table, the kids painted on a scientific inquiry chart; at another, they learned about magnets by trial and error; at the third, they constructed a mini-zipline with thread and Legos.

“They love it,” said Dr. Masera as he watched the studious class. “It’s the coolest room in the building now.”

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