Science Studies Soar at STAC Summer School Sessions

Robert Ferrara’s love of learning took off this summer, reaching sky-high heights beyond his wildest dreams.

Robert, 12, a Norwood, N.J. resident, hit those heights through his course work in an innovative summer science camp program for highly motivated area middle school students at St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) in Sparkill.   


The program just wrapped up its second summer under a two-year, $50,000 sponsorship grant from O&R. The company supported that program as part of O&R’s commitment to developing more community educational programs focusing on science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies.


This year’s program featured classes to develop in students the 21st century version of problem solving, teamwork, collaboration and communication. That development takes place in classes where students study virtual reality program development, drone flying and aerial video production, robotic design and application, forensic scientific analysis and the math mysteries surrounding the science of probability and its role in daily life. 


Robert, it turns out, is a natural-born drone pilot.


Robert took to the skies like a salmon to the seas, and has the light touch that is so highly valued in a drone operator. As he softly ran his fingers over the control keyboard Friday on the sunny, great lawn at STAC’s campus, he zipped the tiny aircraft through a series of aerial acrobatics: speeding, dipping, rolling, diving ---and soaring, just like Robert’s new-found love of learning.


How does this experience compare to regular school, he was asked.


Robert ducked his head a bit, eyes focused on the drone in flight, and whispered, “This is much better than school.”  


The STAC program began in 2012 with 26 students recruited from public and parochial schools in Rockland, northern Bergen and Southern Westchester counties. The program is offered to students entering grades six, seven and eight, meaning students range in age from 11 to 13 years-old.

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