UPDATED AND CORRECTED
BROOKLAWN, NJ (March 24, 2023)(CNBNews)--The latest good news for God's Little Acre, also known as the Borough of Brooklawn, is the five elementary students at the Alice Costello School who represented the district in the STEAM Tank program. The boys in fourth grade are between the ages of 9 and 10. They represent the Brooklawn School District in the State's STEAM Tank program under the team name "Door to Your Heart." Their popularity has even spurred the interest of one of the Philadelphia News stations, CBS 3. A reporter from the station will be at the school to interview them at a later date.
The first page of the Team Door to Your Heart slide presentation source Alice Costello School
Brooklawn School District teacher Theresa Dolan, chair, started the school's STEAM Tank club last year. On Friday, March 16, The Door to Your Heart team competed in the regionals and did quite well.
During their introduction that day, the students explained that they were inspired by a new teacher at their school, Miss Megan Grannan, who is disabled.
Grannan, a co-advisor for the STEAM Tank team, said via an email, "Our team consists of five boys who want to help people with disabilities and want to make a change in the world. The team is called Door to Your Heart. It started with them wanting to help me around school, but now it has become bigger. I am the first teacher that they have seen with a disability. Recently they competed at regionals. They opened many doors to people's hearts and have already impacted our school."
When the schools across the state opened in the fall, the New Jersey School Boards Association invited all public schools to join this year's 2023 STEAM Tank™️ Challenge. The program allows students to invent, modify, or use problem-solving skills to solve real-world problems.
Facilitated by teachers and advisers, the STEAM Tank™️ Challenge encourages students to work collaboratively to identify and develop innovative solutions to issues such as climate change and the environment, societal problems, and situations that need resolution in our schools, communities, state, and global.
JJ Meehan, the brainstormer, creator, developer and graphic design person on the team said before he joined his classmates on the Door to your Heart team that there were times when he felt uncomfortable around some disabled people. This project has changed my thinking because I used to feel very uncomfortable when I saw someone with a disability, I felt I would hurt them mentally or physically, now I am more comfortable because I opened my heart."
"This is my second time doing STEAM Tank," said Gabriel Gettings. "Last year was a great experience and I joined again. I bring research skills to this team and have been focusing my efforts on researching the known disabilities we have in our school. I make slides with the information on it and share it with my team, we have conversations weekly about the information and usually have more questions, which we research again to have a even better understanding. We do this so we can explain it to our classmates."
"When I joined STEAM Tank, my main concern was the safety for people with disabilities. JJ and Geoffrey had an idea to find the disabilities people have at our school. We realized I could be the builder of things people need to be safe. I am very honest so I give good advice.We have lots of good talks that help improve our project," remarked Jameson Conway.
Heath Wallace is the marketer. And he keeps track of what the Door to Your Hearth team has accomplished so far.
- Created a survey of questions that ask students how the day at school goes:
- Watched videos about different kids that have helped people with disabilities
- Making websites with questions that teachers can share with students about the changes we can make
- Make their logo
- Held Google Meets with an expert from STEAM Tank; and talked with their art teacher and guidance counselor
Geoffrey Gettings, the fifth team member, is the team's lesson plan developer and the stop motion creator.
"Because of STEAM, I learned a lot, and now realize how many disabilities exist. And I am more comfortable talking about it. Team Door to your Heart wants to make monthly lesson plans so kids can learn about disabilities. We want to do these lessons because it will help bring awareness to people that have disabilities so that other people can help and know how it feels to have a disability.
"We think the lessons will help others understand what people with disabilities face daily. If we can raise awareness, we can help people with disabilities feel more welcome and like they belong. Some disabilities at our school are Dwarfism, Down Syndrome, Diabetes, and autism. These are just the known ones. We will be doing more research."
"The STEAM Tank™️ Challenge inspires students to become the next generation of entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, artists, and engineers to help make the world a better place, said Dr. Timothy Purnell, executive director of NJSBA. We've been overwhelmed by positive comments from students, educators, and partners who have participated in past years."
(Reporter's note: Full disclosure, Geoffrey Gettings is my great-grandson).