STEMM visitation2At Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School, students and staff not only saw the week of visitation as a time to recruit students to the high school, but also as a chance to showcase its hands-on learning program.

When presented with a problem, the staff at Stritch didn’t look for help outside the walls of the school. Instead, they looked to the students.

“We needed to figure out a way to turn off all the lights in the gym at the same time, but didn’t have a solution because you have to turn each section of the lights off using a key,” said STEMM Coordinator John Agostinelli. “So I asked the students if they could solve the problem.”


And the students did just that.

The solution was to build a device that will hold four separate keys that can all be turned at the same time. Using some engineering knowledge that was obtained in a STEMM class, four students were able to build the device and use it within a couple of days.


In addition, students were also asked to solve another problem. With the gym completely dark, the staff was looking for a way to illuminate only a portion of the gym floor with black lights while not shining a light on the students in the stands. Simply placing black lights on the gym floor didn’t do the trick, but there was also no other location to place the lights.

Again, it was the students who stepped up and solved the problem.

Placing just five black lights on the gym floor, students wrapped aluminum foil around pieces of cardboard and reflected the light onto the gym floor. The reflected light not only shines brighter than the black light itself, but it also prevents the students on one side of the gym from being illuminated as well.

“The best part is, it didn’t even take the students very long to solve either of these problems,” said Agostinelli. “It’s great to see all the principles that we talk about in class being applied to real world problems. It’s great to see the students take the material they are learning about and use it to solve problem effectively.”