STEM Days engage West Friendship Elementary students in math, science

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — the STEM fields are considered essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness worldwide and Howard County does a great job of encouraging student interest in these areas. Locally, West Friendship Elementary has presented STEM programming since 2008 and this is the second year the school has cleverly planned its STEM Days event to fall on the two half-days prior to Thanksgiving. Instead of "checking out" early in anticipation of the holiday, the kids stayed engaged through this fun learning experience.

Students participated in three hands-on activities each day to learn what people in technical fields do and why technology and innovation are important. The topics included cryptography, wind tunnel experiments, robotics, satellites, computer and network simulations, pharmacy math, chromatography experiments and a variety of engineering design challenges, like building spaghetti and marshmallow skyscrapers.

The students also learned about space travel from Dr. Donald Thomas, a retired NASA shuttle astronaut who now directs the newly formed Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science at Towson University.

Several other adults also generously volunteered their time as presenters: West Friendship Elementary staff members Steve Crivelli, Beth Halley, Nancy Janson, Avery Stanert and Janet Yingling; retired West Friendship Elementary staff members Peggy Dash and Elsa Fawcett; parents Danielle Gallina, Karen Jacob, Geff Ottman, Maxine Saylor, Cheryl Triska, Nick Triska, Larry Tsimmerman, and John Yodzis; and guest Eric Labram, from NSA.

Children and adults alike felt genuinely excited about the activities. Visitor Karen Learmouth, the elementary science coordinator for the Howard County Public School System, described herself as "every bit as captivated as the students" after observing two fifth-grade presentations.

"All our speakers made a point to show the children the science or math that was part of the fun," West Friendship Elementary Principal Carol Hahn. "The best part was that it activated each child's curiosity about the 'what ifs' in the world."

Moreover, the students absorbed the lessons. Parent volunteer Cheryl Triska expressed delight that many of the students recognized her from last year and could even recall her previous presentation.

"That was a great feeling," she said. "They remembered, and they learned."

What better way to develop an appreciation for STEM fields than through educational fun? West Friendship Elementary can always use additional STEM volunteers. If you would like to share your expertise next year, call the school office at 410-313-5512.

The results are in, and once again, Marriotts Ridge High School music students have performed exceedingly well in the all-state auditions. All-state ensembles consist of the most talented musicians from across Maryland, with those in grades 7-9 qualifying for junior all-state and those in grades 10-12 qualifying for senior all-state. Congratulations to the following students:

Junior all-state band: Katie Tich (flute)

Senior all-state band: James Martinson (trumpet) and Yong Yang (saxophone)

Junior orchestra: Ashley Choi (violin), Noah Fu (violin), Alisa Hwang (cello), Grace Kim (violin), Nathaniel Kwon (violin), John McIntyre (viola), Katharine Pak (violin), and Christine Shi (violin)

Senior orchestra: Woojin Han (violin), Minji Kim (violin), Yehin Kim (viola), and Mary Lin (cello)

Junior all-state cChorus: Bethany Henderson (soprano), Molly Buch (alto), Julia Fedor (alto), Kyle Cochran (bass), and Vaibhav Garg (bass)

Senior women's chorus: Danielle Haslup ((soprano 1)), Mimi Rinaldi ((soprano 1)), Lisa Alonso (soprano 2), Anna Mateo (soprano 2), Rachel Hanon (alto), Rebecca Harton (alto), Alexandra Sherman (alto), and Annalisa Weymouth (alto)

Senior mixed chorus: Jackie Berges (soprano 1), Katherine Flemister (soprano 1), Morgan Krieger (soprano 1), Aileen Amador (soprano 2), Sarah Canipe (soprano 2), Ryan Marchetti (soprano 2), Gabriella Ellrich (alto), Deandra Fike (alto), Ayla Hoffeiser (alto), Elizabeth Malachevsky (alto), Anna Wehr (alto), Joshua Altenburg (tenor), Cooper Farrell (tenor), Brian Gilbert (tenor), Andrew Gradone (tenor), Mattew Wigler (tenor), Benjamin Bott (bass), Shafer Burnett (bass), Alexander Harvey (bass), Ted Kuligowski (bass), Amanda James (alternate), Greta Ostergaard (alternate) and Anna Rimlinger (alternate).

Speaking about music, the Marriotts Ridge High School Music Foundation would like to invite the community to attend the 2011 Holiday Jazz Cabaret, scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7-9 p.m. The event will take place in the school commons, at 12100 Woodford Drive, in Marriottsville.

Come on out to hear some smooth sounds of the season from the award-winning Madrigals, women's ensemble, and big band jazz group. Admission costs $10 and includes coffee, hot chocolate and scrumptious finger foods.

Questions? Call the school at 410-313-5568.

Denise Bowman, the environmental education center manager at the Howard County Conservancy, would like to pass along that volunteer gardening efforts have concluded for the winter and will resume in the spring. Since the start date depends upon the weather, interested gardeners should call 410-465-8877 in the spring for more information.

Ho ho ho! Santa is still making his rounds with the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department. Here is the remainder of his schedule:

Thurs., Dec. 15 – Carroll Mill Road, Etchison Road, Mount Albert Road, Benson Branch Road, Fawnhaven Court, Pointer Hill Court, Woodspurge Court

Fri., Dec. 16 – Triadelphia Road, Emerald Valley Road, Evergreen Way, Golden Oak Court, Conchita Drive, Benson Estates Drive

Sat., Dec. 17 – Buckskin Wood Drive, Buckskin Lake Drive, Ridgewood Drive, Walt Ann Drive, Hunt Ridge Road, Scheel Drive, and Lakeway Drive

Sun., Dec. 18 – River Valley Chase, Fox Valley Road, Parliament Place, Stiles Way, Snow Chief Road, Andrea Drive, Kenard Drive

Mon., Dec. 19 – Brantly Court, Mustang Path, Windridge Court, Clarks Meadow Drive, Bucks Overlook Court, Day Farm Road, Dalhart Road, Michelle, Drive

Tues., Dec. 20 – Clover Hill Drive, Barnard Way, Fox Meadow, Winfield Road, Wellworth Way

Wed., Dec. 21 – River Road, Howard Lodge Road, Indian Hill Drive, Windriver Drive, Amberwoods Way, Coventry Court

Dec. 22 – Sharp Road, Old Rover Road, Danmark Drive, Tall Ships Drive, Roscommon Drive, Appleby Court

Dec. 23 and 24 – Makeup days

Santa will arrive in the neighborhoods any time between 6:30 and 9 p.m., but all dates and times are subject to change, especially in cases of emergency or inclement weather. Check for schedule changes at

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