Our Lady of Mercy School Adds STEM Discovery Rooms

Our Lady of Mercy School Adds STEM Discovery Rooms

“The teachers use the rooms as an extension of their lessons,” says principal Jane Harrigan.

Our Lady of Mercy School, an elementary school in Hicksville, has added two educational, age-appropriate discovery rooms for students in kindergarten to third grade and fourth to eighth grades to experience STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

The school created the discovery rooms, which opened Sept. 6, to give students a hands-on learning experience in STEM subjects. Each room has science equipment for measuring as well as microscopes, magnets, circuitry packages, Legos, craft materials for design and creativity, and other items that support the STEM curriculum. There is also a storage area with age-appropriate equipment that teachers can bring into the classrooms for nursery and pre-K students.

“The teachers use the rooms as an extension of their lessons, so the children are getting formal instruction in a traditional classroom, and then they move into the discovery rooms to try it out depending on what they are working on,” says principal Jane Harrigan. 

For example, students who are learning coding in the school's computer lab will use the space in the discovery rooms to create designs that they can spread out on the floor using pattern cards, rather than just creating them on a laptop. 

“They start that at the kindergarten level,” Harrigan says. “They're just learning how to put patterns in place and making things go forward and backwards, trying to get from point A to point B." 

Older students have done science experiments, during which they built structures strong enough to sustain certain weights pre-designated by teachers, and projects where they learned about reflection and light. 

Our Lady of Mercy School, which Harrigan says had funding this year to create the discovery rooms, has found the STEM rooms to be a hit with both teachers and children. 

“The money we have now allowed us to get materials that supplement our regular science program,” Harrigan says. “It makes more sense for the teachers, they're not always grabbing from their own kitchen, bring the measuring cup, bring this, bring that. It's all there for them. When the kids go home, they're more excited to tell what they did. They like to share that information.”

Our Lady of Mercy School serves students in nursery to eighth grades. The elementary school, located in Hicksville within Nassau County, Long Island, educates students in faith, academics, and service.

 Get Area Activities in Your Inbox

Main image: Two students utilize a new STEM discovery rom at Our Lady of Mercy School.
Courtesy Our Lady of Mercy School