As Walt Disney once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." The students and staff at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School in Depew and St. Amelia School in Tonawanda took that a step further by believing that if you can dream it, you can STREAM it. STREAM refers to the program sponsored by the Diocese of Buffalo, where a strong emphasis is placed on science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math.
OLBS had the distinction of being chosen as one of 10 STREAM pilot schools by the Diocese of Buffalo in 2014. STREAM has been an integral part of the curriculum ever since at OLBS.
During the 2015-16 school year, the students participated in eight STREAM academies incorporated into their weekly schedules, eight multi-grade field trips and two assemblies at the Buffalo Museum of Science.
At OLBS, students also used 13 hands-on science kits and 19 engineering units across all grade levels. Religion is also deeply incorporated into STREAM at OLBS, with academies based on service and prayer, as well as an interdisciplinary unit that is based on Venerable Nelson H. Baker and Our Lady of Victory Basilica.
Plans for the upcoming school year include keeping STREAM part of the day by running an academy class once a week during regular school hours. This allows all students at OLBS the chance to participate in an academy.
Middle school students are allowed to choose which academy class they want to try, allowing for greater engagement and excitement. Students at this level are also engaged at St. Amelia's.
Every Friday, seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Amelia School participate in clubs, including the STREAM-inspired engineering club. Each week, the students were given a different challenge that required them to design, create, enhance or change a variety of structures, ranging from paper towers to a working model rollercoaster.
The students began by building paper towers to see how many books they could support. The winning tower was able to support two large algebra textbooks using just a few sheets of paper and tape. At Christmastime, students designed and built gingerbread houses that had could withstand a gust of wind. The club also created aluminum boats that had to support as many pennies as possible.
The engineering club also had visitors from the State University of New York at Buffalo American Society of Civil Engineering Club. Its members built a steel bridge model to show the students in the classroom, and students were able to see how small-scale bridges are used to model full-sized bridges and ask the UB visitors questions.
STREAM education in Diocese of Buffalo schools allows these academic concepts to be coupled with increased real-life application in all disciplines.