Middle Schools Visit STA

By Tyler Stafford, Isabella Randazzo, Julia Ruggieri
DEC 13, 2017

On November 20 and 21, approximately 900 middle-school students visited St. Thomas Aquinas (STA). Hosted by Mrs. Scott, Assistant Principal of Community Relations & Student Activities, the event included various activities for the students, most of which were technology based. These events gave middle schoolers a chance to become familiar with the campus and discover all that STA has to offer.

The DNA model that the students created.
Photo: Tyler Stafford

Among the schools that visited were St. Anthony, Nativity, St. Bonaventure, St. Helen, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, St. Gregory, and All Saints.  In the main gym, STA science teachers, Mrs. Enten and Mr. Laakso supervised three different science-based projects. The students rotated around the activities with their middle schools. They created their own alphabet using Fruity Pebbles, and use them to write a secret code that another student would have to decipher. Each letter of the alphabet corresponded to a three-letter sequence based on the color of the Fruity Pebbles. This illustrated how DNA codes messages from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. For another challenge, students made a model of a DNA double helix mostly out of candy. The students were given two twizzlers, twelve gummy bears, and six toothpicks. The finished result resembled a double helix. In an interesting “genetics” experiment, the participants tasted strips of treated paper to see whether they had the genes to taste salty, sweet or sour flavors. For the final activity, balloons were used as visualizations. The students stood in two rings representing a lipid bilayer, and the inner ring tried to keep balloons out, while the outer ring tried to keep balloons in. The activity demonstrated cell functions, specifically how they attempt to use transport proteins to pass substances (balloons) in and out of the cell.

Students working on the DNA and Fruity Pebbles activities.
Photo: Tyler Stafford

Meanwhile, in the STAR Lab, Dr. Williams introduced middle-school students to STA’s robotics program. Groups of students rotated between the STAR Lab and the digital arts lab where Mrs. Daly-Asquini led a tutorial, using professional creative software to animate a “beating heart.” Their time on campus provided the middle-school students with an idea of how technology is used here at STA. At the end of their visit, the students were taken to the Bienes Center for the Arts to watch Act 1 of STA’s latest play, Circus Olympus, presented by the STA Players. The play had already closed to the public, so these were exclusive showings.

STA hopes to welcome these middle-schoolers as Raiders in the coming years. Everyone at STA is confident these tours will influence their decision.