Detectives, astronomers, an inventor and an artist are the temporary personas assumed by seven students from Holy Cross School in Rumson who were tapped for the Stars Challenge, a prestigious science enrichment program for top middle school students, hosted by Monmouth University. “We want to get bright kids excited about science,” said Stephen Chappell, PhD, one of the founders of the Stars Challenge. According to Chappell, Holy Cross School ranks in the top three or four out of 40 participating schools for the number of students accepted into the program.
Students choose among five ten-week courses to pursue their interests and satisfy their curiosity.
“I like TV crime shows,” said Michael Dunn of Middletown, “I was always interested in the person who does the forensics.” He and fellow sixth grade students, Sarah Fazzolari of Colts Neck, and Luka Vacca of Fair Haven, build their investigative skills in the Forensics course as they work as crime scene investigators: analyzing physical evidence, reconstructing a crime scene and identifying the perpetrator. “We learn to eliminate what is not important,” explains Dunn, who foresees a career in engineering or forensics.
Felicia Mattioli, a sixth grader from Colts Neck, chose Patterns in Nature, the program’s newest course. She observes patterns—biological, physical or mathematical—as they appear in nature and creates art using the color, form, light and shadow inspired by her observations.
Jack Fontanella of Atlantic Highlands, Haydn Lang of Shrewsbury, and Nichol Vacca of Fair Haven are eighth graders who elected the Explore the Universe course. “We made a telescope which I thought was really cool,” said Vacca.
The only seventh grader in the group, Kyle Bussey of Atlantic Highlands, will develop his talents for invention as he gains an understanding of physical principles in the Explore, Imagine and Build course.
The Stars Challenge’s ultimate goal is to maintain America’s historical lead in technology and innovation. “Personally, I think learning about different types of science is fun,” observed Nichol Vacca. I think it would be interesting to work in science.”
Known for its comfortable family atmosphere and academic excellence, Holy Cross School delivers a healthy balance of academic achievement, Catholic faith formation and personal growth. For more information, visit www.holycrossschoolrumson.org.