Harbor Country Day School’s Fourth Grade STEAM Class Helps Community


STEAM class fourth graders presented birdhouses they built to Sweetbriar Nature Center’s sparrow nursery.

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Prototype birdhouses are finished.

Photo by: Harbor Country Day School

St. James, NY - May 9, 2018 - On April 25, Harbor Country Day School’s fourth grade STEAM class presented birdhouses they built to Sweetbriar Nature Center’s sparrow nursery. The delivery of the birdhouses was the culmination of a year-long project in the fourth grade that incorporated all of the STEAM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. 
Fourth graders work on their birdhouses. Photo Credit: Harbor Country Day School
The STEAM project -- which followed the STEAM Design Process of “Observe, Focus, Design, Create, and Share” -- began in the fall of 2017, when the Harbor Country Day class visited Sweetbriar Nature Center on a field trip. While there, they discovered that the nature center’s sparrow bird houses were falling apart and that Sweetbriar needed four new birdhouses to replace the dilapidated houses in its sparrow nursery. The fourth graders were eager to help and volunteered to design, build, and deliver the birdhouses to the nature center by the end of the school year.

Doing research at Sweetbriar Nature Center. Photo Credit: Harbor Country Day School
Upon their return to school, the class researched house sparrows and gathered information about how to build a birdhouse specifically for the house sparrow. In addition to conducting online and library research, the students contacted various Audubon Society chapters, ornithologists, naturalists, and professors to gather more information about the house sparrow. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in particular, proved to be a tremendous source of assistance and information.

Learning to use a drill press. Photo Credit: Harbor Country Day School
The students used their research to design a concept sketch and later translated this sketch into cardboard to create a prototype. After determining the proper dimensions for their birdhouses, the class visited Home Depot, which made a generous donation to the school to help cover the costs of their supplies. Finally, the students built the birdhouses using tools such as band saws, drill presses, hammers and screwdrivers, and delivered them to Sweetbriar Nature Center.

Working on the birdhouses. Photo Credit: Harbor Country Day School
Harbor Country Day Head of School John Cissel noted: “I have been very impressed with how the fourth grade has led the school in our STEAM program. Perhaps most impressive is how well the students have used every one of their skills to help the local community. They are the embodiment of what Harbor stands for, and I feel fortunate to have the fourth grade class as part of this school!” 
As a testament to their determination, teamwork, and craftsmanship, the fourth graders have been asked to share their project at the Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire in Port Jefferson on June 9, 2018. For more information about the Maker Faire, visit http://easternlongisland.makerfaire.com/.
About Harbor Country Day School
Founded in 1958 by conscientious parents, Harbor Country Day School is an independent, co-educational day school for children from preschool through 8th grade situated in St. James’ Village of Head of the Harbor. The school employs a whole-child approach to education, wherein its rigorous curriculum is supported by a broad program in its academic, athletic, advisory, and visual and performing arts departments designed to develop all aspects of each child's talents and interests. Harbor Country Day School’s summer camp program, Camp Harbor, is among the leading summer camp programs on Long Island. The school’s mission to “cherish childhood, cultivate wonder, and inspire confident learners and leaders” underscores every child’s experience at Harbor Country Day School and ensures that all of its graduates are prepared to lead fulfilling lives filled with wonder, confidence, and many successes. 
Harbor Country Day School is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents and is accredited by and a member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS). It is a non-sectarian, nonprofit organization under section 501(c) (3) of the IRS Code governed by a self-perpetuating board of trustees. For more information, visit www.hcdsny.org.