The Examiner

Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Students Impress at School STEAM Fair

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Left: Nick Buckeridge researched the NOZzER Watch for his project at the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls STEAM Fair last Friday. Right: Misael Santiago with his marine biology project that explored deep sea creatures, one of dozens of projects at last week’s Hawthorne Cedar Knolls’ annual STEAM Fair. Martin Wilbur photos.

Throughout winter and spring, it’s common to find thousands of students throughout the region working on science and technology projects at fairs and competitions.

One school that might not be top of mind when it comes to seeing high-quality projects is the Linden Hill School, part of the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Union Free School District.

Last Friday, the school held its annual STEAM fair for students in grades 8-12, who displayed an array of impressive projects tackling a wide assortment of topics.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions with special ed but these kids are top-notch and they really prove it. Some kids do go on to regional competitions,” said science teacher Dr. Maksim Vasilevsky, who helps organize the fair.

Ninth-grader Misael Santiago focused his project on marine biology. There is an entire world in the oceans well below the surface of the water that few people get to see or learn about, he said. One of his favorites are the giant squids that can grow to more than 30 feet long and can weigh over 1,000 pounds.

“They’re always so fascinating to me,” Santiago said. “I love one creature in particular, which is the giant octopus because they’re usually very alienated and isolated. So I chose them because they always stood out to me.”

Another student, Nick Buckeridge, also in ninth grade, focused on how the NOZzER watch operates. He said a person wears it like a conventional wristwatch, but if you should start to doze off it jolts your hands to wake you up. It’s best used to prevent drowsy drivers from falling asleep behind the wheel, which could injure or kill themselves, their passengers and other motorists.

“It can save lives and like it stops getting people into any type of bad things,” he said. “It’s not just driving but people have tests to do in school, whether it’s their Regents or any type of tests, they can have this and have it on them while they’re doing their work.”

Linden Hill Principal Robert Worden said he’s consistently impressed with the projects that the students can create. Worden acknowledged that his worst subject growing up was science.

The students come from districts throughout New York City and the lower Hudson Valley, sometimes traveling up to two hours to reach the school. But many arrive prepared to learn.

“They come from varying backgrounds,” Worden said. “A lot of them, not all of them, haven’t had a strong parental support system growing up. I admire them. I’ve been here now 13 years and I admire them and their ability to just get up in the morning.”

For district superintendent Ray Raefski, a lifelong area resident and Pleasantville High School graduate, the STEAM fair is one of the highlights of the year.

“When I walk in here, I feel like it can be any high school in New York State, that our kids rise to the occasion and do a great job,” Raefski said. “So I’m just inspired by the projects, what they put into them and how they’re able to stand here and tell us what they did.”

Vasilevsky said there are students who use the STEAM Fair and the year-long planning that goes into completing their projects as a springboard to finding careers in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field.

“A lot of these kids go on to college for engineering and technology,” Vasilevsky said. “We had a couple of kids last year who went on to a veterinary program to become technicians. It all depends what they want to be.”

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