Students from Mount Olive High School and Mount Olive Middle School learned advanced science and technology skills in a two-week summer program at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

In the Real World Connections program, the 30 students attended daily sessions on the NJIT Newark campus and each explored one of five different courses: Android app development, cybercrime solutions, website creation and maintenance, video game development, and virtual reality. The courses were designed around hands-on projects that allowed students to work collaboratively and learn by doing. 

“This was a great opportunity for students to explore careers that combine science, technology, engineering, art, and math,” said Dr. Gretel Perez, Mount Olive’s director of secondary education. “They tackled the types of issues that you would see in the real world if you were working in a science or tech company. That helped them connect school and learning to everyday life.” 

The final student projects, many of which addressed important social issues, were demonstrated during a presentation day on the NJIT campus and at the September 9 meeting of the Mount Olive Board of Education. 

Plans are being made to include on the district’s website one of the projects – an app that focuses on increasing awareness of domestic violence and mental health.

About 50% of the Mount Olive students that participated are female – an important statistic to note. 

“Women are underrepresented in most science and technology fields,” said Dr. Perez. “It was exciting to see so many young ladies interested in this program and taking on leadership roles in their courses.” 

Each year, Dr. Perez organizes the annual “Women in STEAM” conference for district middle and high school students. The conference is designed to encourage female students to explore STEAM courses and career paths.

Mount Olive students who participated in the Real World Connections program pose at NJIT

At the September 9 meeting of the Mount Olive Board of Education, students discuss the key points they took away from their NJIT experience

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