Mary Queen of Angels School said hello to the doctors, designers and dancers of the future on March 30. The Cheektowaga school held its first career fair with students presenting on the jobs they might want when they become adults.
Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students dressed in bullet-proof vests, hazmat suits and chef's hats, then gave reports on their chosen occupations, which they researched and outlined on large trifold bulletin boards. The fair was part of the school's STREAM program, and just about every job had some aspect of science, technology, religion, engineering, art or math involved.
"We're trying to get students more aware of careers and how they can use school for their future," said Stephany Nalley, STREAM coordinator for Mary Queen of Angels.
STREAM Academy courses are done Monday afternoons during school hours. Each grade focuses on a specific course of study, such as robotics, Future Cities and kitchen chemistry. The work involves learning through doing, not reading.
"The kids are really loving it. You can see excitement in them. Mrs. Bagwell, our principal, will play special music to indicate that it is STREAM time. The kids get excited. They know school's not over, but we're doing something different. It's fun. We're still learning, but it's not out of our textbook, it's hands-on," said Nalley.
At the career fair, younger students walked through the gym and heard the presentations from their older schoolmates.
First up, dressed in germ-free jumpsuits were Jillian Dziadaszek and Jordan McMasters, who both want to be forensic detectives.
"I like staying up all night working with blood and saws," said McMasters, who, thankfully, admitted that he does not have much experience with the stuff. "Not yet. I'm only 9," he said.
Dziadaszek, also 9, and a fan of "The Walking Dead," jumped at the chance to work with blood and guts. "The reason I chose this was because, when the teacher was talking, I was 'Ooh, that's my career.' I heard blood, fingerprinting and mysteries going around, so I was like, 'Forensic detective,'" she said with all the enthusiasm of a pint-sized zombie hunter.
Together they realized they made a great team. Jillian can gather the bloody evidence, while Jordan does the research.
Sianna Le, 9, wants to be a pediatrician for the noble goal of helping sick kids.
"I would like to be a pediatrician because I get to know that I am helping children in this world who are really sick and cannot get special treatment," she said. "I want to help children who can't afford to buy regular checkups. I also want to help children who can pay for those."
Her research on the subject showed all the education she would need to reach her dream. "Pediatricians, they have to be strong in biology, health science, chemistry, physics and math," Le explained. "They have to get an undergraduate degree, which is four years of undergraduate school; a medical degree, which is four years of medical school; a pediatric residence, which is four years of pediatric school; and a medical license. Then you need a certificate, which is from the last course of school you take."
That adds up to 12 years, but she thinks she has what it takes to make it. "I love children. I love to take care of children. I'm really good at science. I'm really good at health science," she said.
Twin siblings Faith and Cody Orzeszek, both 10, are looking at careers on both sides of the same coin. Faith wants to treat people as a nurse, while Cody hopes to care for animals as a zoologist.
"I want to become a nurse because I like to help people and make them feel better whenever I can," said Faith, who used a real stethoscope and blood pressure cuff as part of her presentation.
To be a nurse, one needs a registered nurses license and a "lot of degrees" involving science and math. Math happens to be her best subject. Being a zoologist generally requires a doctoral degree, but a bachelor's degree can be used for a career as a biological technician, allowing the testing of blood samples.
"I want to be a zoologist, when I am older. That means I have to take care of animals. To be a zoologist you need to have a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology. That means you have to be strong in all the sciences and all the maths," Cody said.
Unlike veterinarians who help sick animals, zoologists do research and help the healthy animals.
"Zoologists do things vets can't do, like design zoo enclosures so animals don't get bored," Cody explained. In his exhibit, he included a picture of himself holding a joey, or baby kangaroo, at the Erie County Fair.
This marked the first career fair at the school, which became a STREAM school this past fall.
"I'm excited to have the career fair in our school this year, because I think it shows a real-life connection to all the STREAM activities that we're doing," said Mary Alice Bagwell, MQA principal. "(Students) can see some real-life application to some jobs they could have in the future, and how can the STREAM science experiments that they did during school transfer over to those jobs. I think it's interesting for the children to think towards the future and see some of the correlations that they made."
STREAM-based learning came to the diocese in 2014 to give Catholic school students a leg up on technical jobs, such as engineering, but almost every job requires some knowledge of the coursework.
"STREAM runs the gamut from kitchen chemistry all the way to doing engineering with the kids, doing science Olympiad," Bagwell said. "So, a lot of those jobs, whether it is baker, engineer, graphic designer, took components of STREAM. If you look at those jobs you could find something STREAMish in all of them."