What is STEM?/Middle States Sustaining Excellence

Middle States Accredited

Visitation Academy is committed to advancing excellence and has been accredited as a Middle States Program of Sustaining Excellence.  Sustaining Excellence award recognizes high-achieving schools for their ongoing accomplishments in all areas.

Guided by our Mission to educate our students in a supportive, challenging environment where they can learn to be citizens of a culturally diverse world, we would research what common strategies are used by teachers to develop understanding and respect of cultural and other differences? At the same time, we want to prepare our students for the future.  “Increasingly, business leaders, educators, industry experts, and others are rallying around the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in education. This is a key issue for K-12 education and it’s a requirement to create the kind of workforce our country needs. The Obama administration has clearly focused on this as a major education initiative and a business imperative.”(US News and World Report) We ask what affect will a co-curricular rubric based STEM Program for elementary and middle school students have on their readiness and performance at the secondary level in STEM related math and science courses? In addition will integrating “arts” courses with science, technology, engineering and math courses enhance student awareness and appreciation for the inter dependency of these themes as suggested by the NSF and the NEA and what impact does it have overall on student performance?

Visitation has exceeded goals in our original Action Plan.  Our students are taking 3 high school regents – Algebra 1, Earth Science and Environmental Science


1. Students in 7th grade will take a NYS 9th grade Regents exam and receive a passing grade.

Development of a high school curriculum to be used in our middle school.

2. Follow guidelines from Middle States on STEM school of distinction

All 4th graders will continue to excel in the NYS Science Assessment at Level 3 and 4

85% of 8th grade students will continue to excel in the NYS Science Assessment at Level 3 and 4

Students will enroll in advanced math courses in Fontbonne Hall High School

Students will receive a passing grade in Fontbonne Hall High School Science Classes








STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  It is an approach to teaching in which students become innovators, solving real world problems through design.  As students work to create solutions, they gain skills and knowledge in all academic disciplines, and also learn effective collaboration and critical thinking skills.

STEM Brooklyn 3D printer Visitation Academy

Careers for women in these fields are available.  Visitation Academy is committed to preparing our girls for paths that lead to success, independence, and self-confidence –  now and in their future.

Civil Engineers design and construct bridges to meet transportation needs related to traffic, commuting time and over-passing.  A range of bridge design exists. Teach Engineering

Members of the STEM Club  displayed  their Lego Bridges. Students researched, designed, and tested bridges.  Students presented their research and answered questions from fellow students.  Students made a clay model before designing their Lego model.  Students used their Chromebooks to  display charts and graphs.

Students had to define a simple design problem that included specified criteria for success and constraints on materials.

NGSS – Next Generation Science Standards 

Science and Engineering Practices

Disciplinary Core Idea Math and Science

Math students compared the perimeter and area of the bridge.

Students categorized various shapes used in bridge design, displayed shapes using a bar graph. 

We are very proud of our students’ accomplishments.  The Middle States Sustaining Excellence Protocol involves Visitation’s STEM program.  All of the data we have collected on our graduates shows that our students have gone on to excel in Science and Math Classes in High School.  Our students consistently score at and above proficiency on the NYS Science Test.  This year Visitation is offering 2 Regents in Science – Living Environment and Earth Science.  Our 8th grades students are also taking the High School Algebra Regents.



























The Visitation Academy Lower School and Middle School participate in an annual STEM Expo in which students share their collaborative class projects.  All projects provide students with the opportunity to understand and apply the Scientific Method, to ask and answer questions, and to explore practical solutions to local and global problems through science and other disciplines.

2019 STEM Projects





  • Demonstrated the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research.
  • Became proficient in using technology for learning.
  • Established an awareness of citizenship and other cultures.
  • Developed a solution for a problem.
  • Interpreted and communicated data and information.
  • Incorporated the Arts to develop a deeper understanding of an unfamiliar culture/topic.
  • Engineering: Used raw materials to solve a problem including: a protective covering for a chrysalis, insulation, sturdy trap, habitats, water filter, desalination device.



From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Steam for Nursery is about providing multisensory experiences in STEM. Seeing, hearing, and touching are all part of learning experiences.  Using different shape pastas children show the life cycle of a butterfly.

Essential Question: How does food help caterpillars to grow? How do we protect a chrysalis?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Science Objective – Living things need protection for growth: Children built a protective covering for chrysalis using a paper roll.

Math: Sequencing 1, 2, 3, and 4




The Tundra/ Arctic Animals 

Essential Question:  How do animals keep warm in the Tundra? What types of animals roam this unique region of the world?

The walrus, penguin, seal, and polar bear have special adaptations that allow them to survive the frozen tundra. Blubber helps these animals from getting too cold.

Science Objective: To understand the insulating property of blubber, the students tested the properties of insulating fat through a hands-on experiment using ice and Crisco.

Arctic & Antarctic by Barbara Taylor

Animals of The Tundra: Baby Professor

Videos: Exploring the Arctic for Kids: Arctic Animals and Climates



Kindergarten STREAM

Essential Question: How can we catch a Leprechaun? Students designed and built a trap to lure and capture a leprechaun.

Math: Students measured and counted objects.

Science/Engineering: Students used their understanding of primary and secondary colors to mix colors for their trap; students used their understanding of simple machines to create a functional trap.

Technology: Students took a virtual tour of Ireland.

Social Studies: Students learned about Ireland, Irish Folktales and St. Patrick.

How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace

The Littlest Leprechaun by Brandi Dougherty

Ireland and St. Patrick by National Geographic Kids Website

The Night Before Saint Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing


Grade 1  

Essential Question: How do different habitats provide basic needs for living things?

Researched the difference between living and nonliving things. Identified and described various habitats. Created a chart showing the different environmental conditions living things might find in these habitats.  Skill development: Working in groups, listening to others, reading nonfiction books, and presenting a topic (communication skill)

Technology:  Using a Smartboard, students researched habitats and documented information using a graphic organizer.

Engineering: Created a shoebox diorama of a habitat using materials such as clay, popsicle sticks, and grass.

Students presented and displayed their shoebox habitat. 1st grade invited other classes to explore our habitats



                                                                                 Grade 2

Essential Question: What makes slime gooey?

Students identified and analyzed the key components of making slime.

Process Journal:  To record hypothesis, observations, conclusions and a graphic organizer.

Engineering: Used raw materials and turning them into useful products.

Math: measure and combine ingredients.


Literacy: Horrible Harry and The Green Slime by Suzy Kline – Students were able to research slime and explore its components.


 Grade 3

As a starting point, students read the following literature.

My Great Grandmother’s Gourd by Cristina Kessler

Water Dance by Thomas Locker

Our study included viewing sites online to observe areas which do not have drinking water.




Essential Question: How can you purify non potable water and create potable water?

Scientific Method: Our process was to purify the “dirty” water 3 times, each time adding another purifying element.  We tested the “dirty” water at the onset and after each of the 3 testing points.

Math: Used linear measurement to cut the bottles, liquid measurement for amounts of water and

for the same exact measurements of the materials.

Engineering: Used raw materials and turned them into useful products.



Grade 4 STREAM

Build a solar-powered desalination device to change saltwater into clean drinkable water.

Essential Question: Science Can we change saltwater like ocean water into drinkable water using a solar-powered desalination process?

Engineering: Students build a desalination device.

Math: Documenting dimensions of the container of yielded clean water, average yield based on conducting experiment 3 times, and the comparison of the white container and the black container

Technology: Used internet for research, photographed /videoed the experiment process. Created a power point presentation.

Religion: Explored virtue of gratitude for natural resources and availability of water.



Middle School

Engineering: Used raw materials to solve a problem.

5th grade

Created models of villages and structures that could withstand erosion.

Essential Questions: How can we build to avoid effects of erosion? Which materials did you use to reduce erosion? Why did you choose those materials? Where did the greatest amount of erosion occur? Was your device successful under all conditions? How do you know? What changes did you make to your device after testing?  Why did you make those changes?  Group presentation

6th Grade

Essential Question:  How to encourage people to reduce, reuse, and recycle?

The 6th graders were a part of an Earth Day reduce, reuse, recycle project and a unit on Newton’s law.


7th Grade

Cell City Project

Essential Question: How is a cell similar to a city?

Floating around in the cytoplasm of a cell are small structures called organelles. Like the organs in one’s own body, each one carries out a specific function necessary for the cell to survive. In order to survive, the cell must be able to interact with its surroundings, use energy, produce materials and manage waste.

You will create a poster that compares a living plant cell and its organelles to a city, school, factory, ballpark, etc. The place you choose must use energy, produce substances and manage waste. The organelles will represent the parts of your place that carry out these processes.


8th Grade

Using Technology for a science research, rubric based project – including bibliography.

Task: Researched a volcanos history including geographical coordinates for location. Used checklist and guidelines to focus research. Created an original Power Point presentation and either a 3-dimensional model or poster.  Rubric and guidelines were available on class website.


Architectural Drawings ART

1 – Explored a variety of buildings and their purposes

2 – Learned that buildings are works of art

3 – Developed drawing skills

4 – Worked with color and mixed media

5 – Studied the importance of math and mathematical tools used in Art


1 – City door with rectangular steps using crayons

2 – Country house with roof angles using black permanent markers

3 – Architectural elements of a

castle /designed castles with cylinders and rectangles using metallic markers

4 – City skyline with rectangles and triangles using watercolor paint


Middle States – Sustaining Excellence Protocol

The 3 r’s have been replaced by the three c’s for 21st Century competencies.

STEM ( project based learning)

* critical thinking

* collaboration

* communication

Additional c’s – creativity (innovation), cross cultural competence.


Congratulations to our students who consistently meet and exceed Common Core Standards testing.

Year NYS Science 4

Percentage of students achieving and exceeding competency

NYS Science 8

Percentage of students achieving and exceeding competency

2016 100% 100%
2017 100%   80%
2018 100% 100%
2019 100% 100%
2020 No State Testing COVID



Year   NYS Living Environmental Regents – advanced High School curriculum  

Percentage of students achieving and exceeding proficiency.  

2016     91.7%
2017    100%
2018      75%
2019      88%
2020   Equivalency Regents due to Covic 100%