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Building spaghetti 'towers' for STEM challenge [Greater Loch Raven]

On the evening of Wednesday, April 30, at Loch Raven Technical Academy, teams made up of a student and his or her family worked together to build a freestanding spaghetti tower that was at least one meter tall (a little over 3 feet). Beside the uncooked spaghetti, the only other material that was allowed were mini marshmallows to hold the spaghetti together. It made for an interesting project; the teams had to consider variables such as the brittleness of the uncooked spaghetti and the weight of the marshmallows as they worked to construct a winning tower. And they had a mere 20 minutes to work.

Many families participated and some managed to successfully complete the task. This and another STEM challenge, constructing a soda straw rocket, were some of the activities available for guests at the school's annual Showcase Night, an event which was hosted for current and prospective students, their families and others from the community.

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During the event guests had the chance to meet teachers and hear about the courses they teach as well as view displays of current students' work. Also, art department and the visual arts magnet students displayed their skills at a fashion show.

And middle school is not too early to start planning for a career and students at Loch Raven Academy did that earlier this year during Career Exploration Week. Students participated in a variety of activities to encourage them to think about careers they might pursue.

During career week, there was a scavenger hunt to find teachers and the degree the teacher earned. Students were asked to dress up as if they held the occupation of their dreams. Teachers and staff wore college gear and talked about their college experience. An assembly presentation concluded the week, during which professionals from different careers talked about their work.

In addition, Loch Raven Technical Academy recently got word they were recertified as a Maryland Green School. Qualifying as a green school was a lengthy process. They had to list all the school's "green" activities of the last four years as well as staff development, student-driven projects, activities involving the community and more.

Andrew Peregoy, science department chair at the school said, "It is a great honor to have our school recognized for all of the environmental programs and conservation initiatives that we implement here every day — very exciting!" As a recertified "green" school, they will receive a plaque, statewide and county recognition, gifts designed to jumpstart the next re-certification, a tree and more.

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