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Mar 25

Vote this week! i5 Digital Video Competition

I am so proud of the hard work and creative genius that 4 different groups of students have put forward to enter the i5 Digital Video Competition. They each need your help!

March 26-April 9
Go online to your Youtube or Google account (if you do not already have one they are free!):
1. Click the links below then click “LIKE”
2. You can ‘like’ for up to 3 middle school and 3 high school films. Please help us get the Viewer’s Choice Award!

Watch as the AP Computer Science Principles class at CWNC describes this fascinating new program…

Students from Baden Academy worked are inquisitive and hilarious as they explore the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math of our school play.

Four students attended at G-MITES Spring camp and created a hilarious and informative video about a fascinating part of Pittsburgh’s history.

Elise took it upon herself to make a film (she is an amazing young girl and has commanded the Nerd Battalion since 3rd grade).  Check out what she learned about cyber security,

Don’t waste a moment – go vote!


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Mar 22

CADD Connections: Robert Morris University’s Department of Engineering

One of the most rewarding challenges for a classroom teacher is to use curriculum as a means to connect students to their desired end, to stimulate their thinking and illuminate possible career paths. Facilitated by STEM Career Tours, students enrolled in the Introduction to Computer-Aided Design and Drafting course at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School were able to see how their newly acquired skills are put to work in Greater Pittsburgh.  This blog will highlight student experiences on the second stop of the STEM tour, Robert Morris University’s Department of Engineering.

Students immediately contrasted the scale of RMU’s STEM efforts to our own at CWNC.  They were blown away by the amount of computer aided machinery available to the engineering students.  As a teacher, it was encouraging to hear phrases like “I might just apply here,” and “wait, you mean students can use all of this?”

In our CADD class, students have been using software to create digital models.  At RMU, students got to see how these models can be fabricated through the manufacturing process.  Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) was on full display in the department of engineering, and it peaked students’ curiosity and creativity. They wondered how a 2D drawing could be used to guide the arm of a robotic router and etch a precise name into a plastic block.  They also mused about the countless other applications of this technology.  Seeing this inspired me to push the curriculum further in future iterations of this course.  It is my goal to provide opportunities for students to fabricate their own drawings and complete the CADD-CAM loop.

Our trip to RMU gave students a taste of what it would be like to continue to develop their CADD skills at the university level, they also got a literal taste of college when we stopped for lunch at a campus dining hall.  Over lunch, I had the opportunity to chat with some students about their experience.  Flashy highlights included the laser scanner that can generate a 3D CADD model from live readings in real-time and the massive machine responsible for pressing out plastic molds, but the most impactful comments involved a deeper realization.  Students recognized that the seemingly simple skills they are developing in class are being honed at universities across the nation and deployed to solve some of our generations most pressing challenges.  For example, we learned CADD-CAM is assisting concussion research and the development of prosthetics for amputees.

I like to change the narrative on the classic question “what do you want to do when you grow up?”  Instead, I ask students what problem they are interested in solving with their life’s work.  On this stop of our STEM Careers Tour, students saw that RMU is asking the same question of its engineering students.

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Mar 16

Favorite Teachers and the Best of Compliments

Your help is requested. Please find a way to prop up your phone or camera and make a quick film for one of my research fellows. Third grade Riley is asking you a question; “What is the most profound and memorable compliment a teacher ever gave you.”

The responses will be posted on her website for voting to be included in her upcoming book, “Give a Kid a Compliment.”

In celebration of the Ides of March, here’s mine Riley.


If you would like to send her your mp4 video, please email me ( with
– your name as you want it to appear
– contact information
– and paste the below paragraph into the email.
This video is being submitted for the project “Give a Kid a Compliment.” All submissions become the sole property of Baden Academy Media Lab/Grow a Generation and may be used for the website

We will contact you if we wish to use your submission in any other way.

On behalf of Riley and all those who will learn to give a kid a meaningful compliment, thank you!

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Mar 14

Pi Day 2017

What is Pi Day? 

March 14 is Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday!  How are you going to celebrate?

Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

Around the world, people celebrate the universal language of math by recognizing Pi Day.

Top Five Classroom Activities

  • Sing a Pi song

  • Have a Pi memorization contest (winner gets a piece of pie!)

  • Have an Einstein look a like contest.

  • Cut Pi (Wrap a string around the circumference of a circular object. Cut the string when it is exactly the same length as the circumference. Now take your “string circumference” and stretch it across the diameter of your circular object. Cut as many “string diameters” from your “string circumference” as you can. What do you notice?

  • Create a daisy chain of circles to encircle your classroom with trivia, facts, history, and information about pi created by students.

Top Five At-Home Activities

  • Surround yourself with Einstein quotes

  • Watch a video about Archimedes of Syracuse (287–212 BC) or one of the other mathematician’s who helped us learn more about Pi.

  • Approximate Pi with the Buffon Needle Experiment

  • Create an Infographic about the various fields of mathematics and science that Pi is valued (geometry, trigonometry, calculus, cosmology, number theory, statistics, fractals, thermodynamics,mechanics, electromagnetism, engineering, computer algorithms, etc).

  • Create your own Pi Day Pininterest page (or add to mine!)

Top Five Individual Math Activities

  • Bake a pie (then calculate its volume!)

  • Celebrate with San Francisco’s Exploratorium by creating an avatar and joining other’s in the fabricated reality of Second Life.

  • Check your inbox at Tau time (6:28 pm) on Pi Day for an MIT admission acceptance (What do you mean you forgot to apply?!?)

  • Solve Pi Day Sudoku

  • Estimate Pi with Tooth Picks

Pi Trivia:

  • Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point.

  • Pi is irrational and transcendental number.

  • Pi will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.

  • Hold Pi (3.14) up to a mirror and it spells PI.E

  • Pi has been known for almost 4000 years

  • Twitter  #piday

 Enjoy Vi Hart’s Pi Day Rants!:

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Mar 09

Aleenia Reich – Youth Champion

Aleenia Reich, Research Fellow and leader of the Baden Academy Take Action club has received the 2017 Youth Champion award from the Pennsylvania Statewide Youth Development Network. She is a personal hero and I am so proud of her!

I nominated her a few months ago with the following:  Aleenia is an extraordinary young woman currently in 5th grade.  She was named a research fellow in our Media Lab program last year when she proposed to run an afterschool service learning club.  Using the curriculum and campaigns provided by WE Schools, Aleenia has led and inspired the students to sell Rafiki bracelets to benefit education in Kenya, hold bake sales for area food banks and homeless shelters, raise awareness around global justice issues, and helped the school raise over $16,000 for St. Jude’s hospital over two years.  I cannot emphasize how capable this young girl is.  Last Wednesday she left organized games, videos, and assignments for the club [and for the mentor!] as she knew she had to leave early (to help a teacher with another afterschool project).  Watch the TED talk she made last year  and the playlist for the club (Aleenia does the storyboards, filming, editing and posting):


I can’t emphasize enough have mature, collaborative, and enthusiastic Aleenia is. She inspires the kids and the educators of the school to join this club and take part in its actions.

Aleenia returned yesterday from the awards ceremony in Harrisburg. She had a chance to fill in club members about the awards ceremony.  Aleenia was invited to speak for 5 minutes about the We School campaigns.  She spoke for fifteen!


She mentioned she was the only eleven year old recipient of an award at the reception.  All the others were between 18 and 59.  She talked of the grandeur of the Hilton in Harrisburg, and brought back pictures of the lobby chandelier. She was humbled and inspired by the other recipients and talked of their selfless contributions to their communities and to the world.

Aleenia is such an extraordinary young women.  When she was done talking about her award, she refocused the group on where the money they have raised for global issues will impact the world.  The group chose to spend some time focusing on Haiti. Many of the group had stories of camp counselors and other leaders who have volunteered time and talent to help pull this nation out of abject poverty.

I love that Aleenia and the Take Action club sit the midst of robots, arduinos, and programming clubs.  Her compassion for others and her selfless desire to serve are a reminder to me why I seek to make all our project based learning meaningful!

A special thank you to mentor and teacher Sara McMillen who serves as the adult facilitator of the club.  We love you Aleenia!


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Mar 01

CADD Connections: Michael Baker International

One of the most exciting aspects of a classroom teacher’s job is to connect their curriculum to real-world applications.  Facilitated by Grow a Generation’s STEM Career Tours, students enrolled in the Introduction to Computer-Aided Design and Drafting course at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School were able to see how their newly acquired skills are put to work in Greater Pittsburgh.  This blog will highlight student experiences on the first stop of the STEM tour, Michael Baker International.

Our experience at Michael Baker immediately validated the CADD curriculum at CWNCHS.  Students had the opportunity to see the actual models used in the construction and renovation of our roadways.  The models were generated using the same computer software we use in the classroom.  In fact, the models looked strikingly similar to the types of projects students had been completing throughout the first semester.  Although the projects were more robust, drafters had to use the same skills to develop them.

Tiahjure Harp, Zachary Diethorn, Ryan Baranowski, Nicholas Habrle, and Teacher David Yackuboskey from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic visiting Michael Baker on a STEM Career Tour

Students work with the bridge inspector, training software.  Yet another example of computers facilitating the field of transportation engineering.

One of the critiques of the course from one student’s perspective, Landon Pringle – a junior at CWNC, is that the content can be “tedious, and kind of boring.”  That same student couldn’t imagine the amount of detail oriented effort if would take to create such a model.  When asked for his thoughts, Landon replied, “I don’t think I could be a transportation engineer.  I mean it’s cool, but painstaking.”  From a teacher’s perspective, it means a lot to see that the skills used in the classroom are necessary in the work place.  Being able to reveal that to a student is what teaching is all about, even if they realize this particular career field doesn’t fit their skill set.

The CADD curriculum at CWNCHS emphasizes the capability of computers to increase, Precision, Efficiency, and Communication in the design process.  Of these three, Efficiency in the field of transportation engineering, was on full display at Michael Baker International.  Representatives showcased Michael Baker’s very own software that automates computer generated renderings of bridge cross-sections.  By simply inputting a few dimensions that are specific to the project, a drafter can efficiently compile a set of drawings to be quality checked by an engineer.  A second tool Michael Baker highlighted was bridge inspection, training software.  Students used the same software bridge inspectors are trained with to examine a virtual bridge; they navigated an environment, selected tools and analyzed structural concerns.  While this not a drafting application it is a prime example of using computers to increase efficiency in the field of transportation engineering.  

All in all, the time spent with Michael Baker International enriched the classroom experience.  CWNCHS is grateful for the opportunity to team up with STEM Career Tours and provide this trip for our students.









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Feb 26

Summer G-MITES Camps and STEM Tours Announced!

Summer Camps
at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic

G-Mites STEM camps provide gifted youth fun opportunities to explore new and relevant skills in STEM careers. We believe in giving students a chance to discover his or her passions and innate curiosity; with hands-on experimentation, one on one coaching, and mentors who are truly passionate about what they teach. Each camp is specifically designed to build new skills from the ground up.

Purchase at:
Registration Deadline: May 31, 2017

Grades 7-12
June 26-30  9:30-3:00
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic


Grades 7-12
July 10-14    9:30-3:00
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic


Grades 7-12
July 17-21  9:30-3:00
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic



Grades 7-12
July 24-28  9:30-3:00
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic


Grades 9-12
4 Unique 4-Day Weeks
June 26-29 |  July 10-13
July 17-20  |  July 24-27



 Download Flyer/Mail-In Registration Here




Subscribe to Our Mailing List


Check out some high points from Summer 2016





Camps in the News… 

Grow a Generation Breeds Future Engineers and App Developers by Tyler Baum, Pittsburgh Youth Media

5th Grade Environmentalist Erin Cheek Interview Neighborhood Voices

STEM teenagers learn about the math and science of TrueAlleleTrue Allele Technology Newsletter June/July 2015 Newsletter

Platypus Hosts the STEM Careers Tour CMU Cooperative Robotic Watercraft Post

High School STEM Students Visit Point Park’s CSI House, Learn About Forensic Science  Point Park University Arts and Sciences News and Features

Making Meaningful Games: Firefighter Firefight

Future Engineers: 3-D Space Container Challenge

STEM Video Competition 2015

Monday’s STEM Career Tour 2015

Tuesday’s STEM Career Tour 2015

Wednesday STEM Career Tour 2015

Thursday STEM Career Tour 2015

2015 STEM Careers Tour – Friday 2015




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Jan 29

Huge Magnets Map Tiny Proteins

AP Biology students from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School visited the Department of Structural Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Students were led on a tour by Dr. Rieko Ishima, an associate professor and a principal investigator in the department. Dr. Ishima oversees a team of research associates and fellows who are currently working to determine protein structure and dynamics using nuclear magnetic resonance.

Protein images are beyond tiny! The nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of proteins does not ‘take a picture.’ Rather, it relies on complex mathematical calculations to build a three dimensional image of the protein.

During Dr. Ishima’s tour, students were shown various equipment used in cryo-electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, and x-ray crystallography. Students were fascinated not only by the incredible detail achieved in the digital images produced by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), but also by the sheer size of the equipment required to generate those results.

Though NMR examines molecular structure and dynamics at the atomic level, the spectrometers required to view particles that small are extremely large. Pitt has seven spectrometers in this department, and they are housed in 10,000 square foot laboratory. The students were amazed to learn that when the spectrometers were delivered, the first floor windows were removed to allow the equipment to be lowered into the NMR lab! We are standing in front of a two magnets that had to be lowered by crane through an open window.

Students were also able to tour the cryo-electron microscope facility, where three electron microscopes allow researchers to engage in structural analysis of proteins, viruses, cellular organelles and bacterial cells. Finally, Dr. Ishima and her team led students to the x-ray crystallography lab. Here, researchers are able to grow, store, and monitor crystals. Once crystals are ready for analysis, x-ray beams and image plate detectors are used to collect data about protein structures at the atomic level. While scientists in the lab often use tiny tools to manually transfer crystals for analysis, the lab also is equipped with a robot that can mount and collect data from up to 80 crystals for rapid analysis.

The field is extraordinary.





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Jan 19

Really? You can borrow puppets at the Library?

Taylor Breaden at the Baden LibraryReally?  You can borrow puppets?

On January 11, seven 5th grade families joined Mrs. Breaden and Mrs. Houston for a tour of the Baden Memorial Library. This evening was part of an ongoing research fellowship of Mrs. Taylor Breaden.  Her fellowship partners Baden Academy with Baden Library.  


Mrs. Breaden at Baden Library

Kids and adults who did not already have a library were able to sign up for a card.  They learned about all the phenomenal programs that are held there and at each library in the area.  

Did you know

  • If you borrow a book from a Beaver County library, you can return it to aBernie McKean at the Baden Libraryny other Beaver County Library!

  • You can join after school clubs such as Lego Building, Harry Potter clubs, and more

  • You can rent a movie and the book that goes along with it at the same time – so, read the book, then watch the movie to compare the two!

  • You can get a replacement library card – for free – if you ever lose one.

  • You can order a book online from any Beaver County Library and have it waiting for you at your local library.

  • You CAN check out a puppet!

Baden LibrarySo dust off your library card, go to your favorite library, and lege librum (read a book!).

We are so grateful for part one of this fellowship in which the 5th grade borrows 50 books every month for their classroom library.  Part Two was the family afternoon at the library.  Stay tuned for part three!

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Jan 19

Did you know Zebrafish Embryos are Transparent?

On November 18, 2016, AP Biology students from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School participated in a STEM Careers Tour which included a visit to the Department of Developmental Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Specifically, students were able to interact with Dr. Michael Tsang, an associate professor who is currently conducting research in Pitt’s zebrafish aquaria. In the zebrafish facility, one of the largest in the world, researchers are engaging in multiple large-scale projects which use the zebrafish to understand how organs such as the liver, kidney and heart develop in the embryo.

The visit began with a presentation by Dr. Tsang, during which he explained his research and the benefits of experimenting with zebrafish. Students learned that zebrafish are ideal subjects for experimentation because they are small and easily maintained, embryos are transparent and easily visualized during development, and they are able to repair and regenerate damaged tissue. All of the students were fascinated when they learned that, after a few weeks at the bottom of the tank, zebrafish that have sustained a severed spinal cord are able to repair the damage and regain mobility!

After this presentation, students were able to experience a tour of the zebrafish aquaria, which contains over 11,000 tanks housing over 500,000 zebrafish. While touring the facility, students asked a wide variety of questions about the logistics in place to maintain such a large research lab, and they learned that while the tanks are self-cleaning, university employees spend several hours each day feeding the fish. The rows of tanks with tiny, newly-hatched fish were a highlight of the tour, but the students were most intrigued by the fluorescent green zebrafish. These genetically modified fish carry the gene for Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which allows researchers to better identify abnormalities, such as those that lead to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Most importantly, students engaged in dialogue with Dr. Tsang about both the benefits and ethical obligations of animal testing. The visit to the lab, and particularly this conversation with Dr. Tsang, ignited a desire in many of the students to pursue ongoing research with zebrafish. Sixteen AP Biology students from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic are preparing experimentation results currently being conducted with both adult and embryonic zebrafish for entry into the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair! Mrs. Murray classroom is becoming its own zebrafish aquaria and the contacts she made on the tour have become mentors in her ongoing efforts to make biology come to life for all her students.

If you want to book a STEM Career Tour for your favorite teacher or classroom, contact me!


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