In 2015, Harrington Middle School was selected to be part of the Teen Science Café Network. This national program helps link STEM professionals with Harrington students. According to the Teen Science Café founders, "Teen Cafés are informal, interactive programs that promote exploration, creativity, and life long learning." Harrington students volunteer to be leaders and run the monthly cafe events. Teen Science Cafe meetings are held the first Thursday of the month until 4:10 in the STEM room. New members are also welcome.
Maureen taught science at Harrington Middle School prior to her current assignment of teaching an underwater robotics STEM class. About 15 years ago, she and her science students established a purple martin colony in front of Harrington Middle School. Her science students monitored the purple martins each year and even celebrated the martins' presence by hosting annual purple martin festivals. Now Harrington's Teen Science Café students are the martin 'landlords' and monitor the colony.
Virtual 'nest checks'
COVID didn't stop our Teen Science Café members from being good landlords. We're conducting weekly Google Meets to keep track of the martins' progress.
Alexis is a PhD candidate at Temple University in Dr. Erik Cordes’ deep-sea ecology laboratory. Much of her research involves exploration of the deep-sea and understanding how humans are influencing deep-sea coral communities. She has participated in 10 research cruises using submersibles and ROVs in the Gulf of Mexico, the Central Pacific, and in the Atlantic Ocean off of the Southeastern United States.
Mr. Lee Melair shared a hobby he is passionate about - cryptology. For the past 45 years, Mr. Melair has been ciphering cryptology and secret messaging. He is the past President of the American Cryptogram Association, an International organization established in 1929. He currently writes three separate monthly newsletters for seniors, high school students, and grade school students presenting how to construct and solve secret messaging ciphers.
Let's Build a Bridge!
January 4, 2019...Mr. Matthew Pennisi formerly worked at Boeing on the Chinook, V-22 Osprey, and Commanche programs. He worked on a team with stress engineers, electrical engineers, and manufacturing to make everything work. Today Mr. Pennisi spoke with us about structural design. We worked in teams to create bridges out of popsicle sticks, and then tested the strength of our bridges to see which team created the most structurally sound bridge.
We're having a blast!
We invited Ms. Marcia Baker, a special programs educator at the Franklin Institute, to our December 6, 2018 Teen Science Cafe event. Ms. Baker showed us imagery from the 1933 Zeiss refractor telescope and spoke with us about rocketry. Then it was our turn to shoot rockets using the tried and true alka seltzer method. We had a blast!
A lesson in civil engineering
Our November 2017 Teen Science Cafe event featured Ms. Lisa Peterson. Ms. Peterson is the transportation services manager for Dewberry’s Mount Laurel, New Jersey, office. She has more than 15 years of experience as a transportation engineer and project manager specializing in highway design. She is a professional engineer, professional land surveyor, and a certified municipal engineer. During the TSC event, we were the engineers using local maps and designing roads!
March 27, 2017 Cafe Event
Our final cafe event for the school year welcomed Mr. Parth Chauhan, one of the Founding Farmers of HomeGrown Farms. At HomeGrown Farms, herbs and vegetables are grown in an organic-certified facility without pesticides or herbicides. Their vertical farming model keeps produce safe from bugs, uses 90% less water, and 80% less fertilizer. HomeGrown Farms brings their customers fresh and clean produce all year-round.
Conserve Wildlife of NJ on February 2017
Harrington students who were interested in learning about our national emblem attended our February Teen Science Cafe event. Ms. Stephanie DAlessio was our guest on Monday, February 27, 2017. Ms. DAlessio is the Director of Education for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ where she works with biologists to create engaging educational presentations for New Jersey students. Her presentation focused on two endangered species in New Jersey – the Bald Eagle and the Peregrine Falcon. It was very interesting to learn about these birds of prey and how our biologists are helping these endangered species.
January 2017 Café Event with Mr. Scott Batterman
The Teen Science Café leaders welcomed Mr. Scott Batterman to Harrington Middle School on January 30th. Mr. Batterman is an Engineering Consultant for Batterman Engineering where he is responsible for providing forensic engineering services in a wide variety of legal cases. Harrington students learned how Mr. Batterman applies his expertise in forensic engineering to his work as an Engineering Consultant.
Our Teen Leader Coordinator, Sanjana Jampana, wrote an article for the National Teen Science Café Barista Blog! The article is about our first Teen Science Café event.
An unexpected guest at our end of year celebration
We planned a celebration for our last Teen Science Cafe meeting of the 2015-16 school year. However, at the last minute we found out that our school guidance counselor, Mrs. Sheehan, had a very interesting house guest. Her guest, Ms. Jacquie Warda, is an airshow pilot. How could we not invite her to come to our celebration?! Ms. Warda agreed to stop by our Teen Science Cafe celebration. She shared a video of doing stunts in her plane and talked about how easy, yes easy, it is to fly! We invited Ms. Warda back to Harrington the next time she is in town, and we look forward to having her as an official cafe guest!
Ms. Warda's motto: "Be Fit, Be Strong, Fly Like A Girl!"
Our first outside cafe event!
Our May 2016 guest was Dr. Ramesh Venkatakrishnan, a geologist from our Mount Laurel community. First, Mr. Venkatakrishnan talked about himself and his experience as a person who came to the U.S. to fulfill his hopes and dreams. This was inspiring, encouraging us to pursue our dreams and to work for what we want. He talked about geology and orienteering, and showed us how to use a compass. We used our smart phones to discover how to find directional north, east, south, and west, and after the compass demonstration, he put us into teams for the activity. Dr. Venkatakrishnan showed us how orienteering works on a map, as well as the activity setup. Before heading outside for the activity, he gave everyone a basic lesson in mapmaking and scaling. Outside he had set up 12 flags, as well as a ravine, and each team had to navigate from place to place trying to correctly determine the entire distance of the course. Even though not everyone was totally accurate, we all had a very good time trying to figure it out! After the orienteering activity, Dr. Ramesh Venkatakrishnan shared his geology finds from the six continents he has visited throughout his career as a geologist.
STEM by Sea or Air
Our April 2016 guest was Lauren Newbert, a civilian employee from NAVSUP WSS. The event kicked off with a question of quality, "Which has a better quality, a pencil that makes an eraser smudge or a pencil that does not?" She then told us about her career at NAVSUP WSS, and told us about some of the work she does as a civilian Navy employee. Ms. Newbert then went into a brief presentation about the NAVY and related concepts, followed by a Quality Assurance (QA) explanation. To show us how her job works, Ms. Newbert had us create boats using only the directions we were given. Each group had a different set of directions. Some of the directions were better than others, creating a variety of boats of various qualities. We then put the boats in the water to test their QA. Our boats varied from really good to really bad, depending on the set of directions used to build the. We learned that the customer directly affect the quality of the product being created.
March 2016 Cafe: "Taking Off With Engineering!"
Dr. Schuck from Lockheed Martin's MST department was our special guest for the March Teen Science Cafe. He is an award-winning author and adjunct professor at both Johns Hopkins and Rowan University, with an expert level of knowledge in Combat Identification. Dr. Schuck introduced us to the concept of missile defense with a model rocket. He shared a couple of interesting and engaging videos, and it was evident that the students were enthused. Dr.Schuck encouraged students to ask questions about the video clips, and it was surprising how much knowledge the students already had about the engineering concepts. Dr. Schuck explained how the rotation of the missiles was similar to throwing a football, he explained the relationship of the colors to heat, and he explained much more about the engineering behind rockets. The students even requested to see the video of the missile collision multiple times to understand what happened, exhibiting a true interest in the topic. The hands-on activity was making paper rockets, with the students having the option of customizing their rockets to fly the farthest. It became a friendly competition, and the students were eager to beat each other and win the title of "Best Rocket"!
Matters of the Heart with Dr. Duca
Our guest speaker for February 2016 was Dr. Maria Duca, cardiologist and director of Women's Cardiology-North Division at Virtua. Dr. Duca explained the parts of the heart and the importance of each part. Dr. Duca made complex terms such as the "sinoatrial node" and the "atrioventricular node" understandable with analogies such as "the electrical signals of your heart are like the wires of a lamp in your house!" One of the best moments was when she passed around a catheter (used to deal with heart blockage) and stents for everyone to see. We were intrigued, to say the least, asking questions and eager to learn more about the heart. Dr. Duca also taught us about CPR and its importance, making us aware of the benefits of having such knowledge. The students practiced CPR techniques on CPR dummies, and every student took turns putting their new skills to use. Dr. Duca also demonstrated how an ultrasound works with the help of her son, Chris, a Harrington student. Everyone was fascinated to see his beating heart in the ultrasound while Dr. Duca explained its practical use in cardiology.
February Cafe Guest
February 29th....Cardiologist Dr. Maria Duca....This Teen Science Café focused on matters of the heart. Heart health, CPR, and more!
"Ingenuity and teamwork"
About forty students attended Harrington's Teen Science Café on Monday, February 1, 2016 and each one truly enjoyed hearing from our guest speaker, Mr. Condurso. Mr. Condurso is a technology education teacher and the FIRST Robotics advisor at Lenape High School. The students were engaged in the day’s events, starting with his presentation on the importance of technology education and robotics. Mr. Condurso stated that the latter was not possible without ingenuity and teamwork. To reinforce that key concept and “what it’s like to be a robot”, the students worked in pairs to do an activity in which they had to tie a shoe using only a pair of pliers. Most of the teams excelled at the activity, working together to effectively tie the shoe within a few minutes. Mr. Condurso then shared a video with the group about FTC Robotics, as well as an introduction to the advanced robotics challenges that the teams worked on in this year's high school competition. Mr. Condurso also brought a 3D printer to the Teen Science Café to demonstrate how his teams make parts for their robots. As melted plastic was sculpted into a shape, he showed a prepared and detailed creation: a green Yoda figure. The students, amazed, were quick to ask questions and participate in a lively Q&A session. Students also got to drive the Lenape High School's FTC team robot, and everyone in attendance was given a 3D-printed bracelet! Mr. Condurso left the Teen Science Cafe participants with good advice: things don’t always work out the way we want them to, and it is important to work together to fix the problems. This Teen Science Café event was a huge success!
Vince Capone: “Science opens any door”
On December 21, 2015, we had our very first Teen Science Café event! There were many decorations, lots to learn, and a large group of students to meet the guest speaker, Mr. Vince Capone from Black Laser Learning. HMS students enjoyed the snacks and eagerly awaited to hear Mr. Capone talk about his knowledge of marine technology and share some of his experiences. Mr. Capone gave students an inside look at marine technology through the use of engaging videos and a thought-provoking presentation. The students learned about his career field and also learned some basic marine concepts. A highlight of his presentation was the video he shared showing the Apollo- F1 engine recovery that his team recovered for the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. We were shown part of the documentary about the recovery and some of the CNN news report on the mission. The discussion and Q&A that followed were lively, with the Teen Science Café students wanting to know more about his line of work and experiences. Following Mr. Capone's presentation was an activity in which the students were tasked with identifying various underwater items from sonar images. The HMS students did well, with most students being able to identify at least a couple of the underwater sonar images shown. Mr. Capone left the students with one important line of advice: Dream what you dare to dream, be what you dare to be, and live!