GARDNER — Curiosity shined at the Boys & Girls Club of Gardner during a visit this week from the Aldrich Astronomical Society and the Mount Wachusett Community College Astronomy Club.
A variety of topics were discussed as students from the Boys & Girls Club, who are in grades five through eight, got to ask questions on everything from black holes, why Saturn has rings and why Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet. They also got to check out a few telescopes.
“It was interesting, fun and cool,” sixth-grader Sophia Finn said.
Seventh-grader Emily Collins said she is “big time” into astronomy and one of the things she has learned about is the science behind why stars shine as a light in the night sky.
The Boys & Girls Club is held every day after school at Gardner High School.
The astronomy presentation was part of the club’s participation in the inaugural statewide STEM week that was declared by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito for Oct. 22-26 to promote education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and highlights its impact on the economy.
The Aldrich Astronomical Society is based in Paxton. President
One of the things he spoke of is the work of Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei who in the 1600s invented his own telescope.Zebrowski talked to the students about telescopes, saying that is a basic introduction to astronomy.
“He was widely recognized for taking that next step with telescopes,” Zebrowski said.
Zebrowski said with his telescope, Galilei was able to discover the craters and mountains on the moon, and confirmed the theory of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun, which challenged the commonly held view at the time that the earth was at the center of the universe.
Also taking part in the event from the Aldrich Astronomical Society was member Jim Erickson, who said he also founded the Mount Wachusett Community College Astronomy Club while a student there.
The college club was represented by President Ashley Auger, Ali Guthrie and Ethan Williams.
The college students helped with answering questions from the Boys & Girls Club members and also talked about their interest in astronomy.
“I love the stars. I love the universe. It’s a really magnificent thing,” Williams said.
Volunteer Coordinator Kelly Hartnett said as part of STEM Week, the Gardner students will also go to the Boys & Girls Club facility in Leominster to take part in a career expo.
She said the entire week is designed to make the STEM subjects relatable to the students.
“Hopefully it sparks interest,” she said.
Isaiah Jasmin, team leader for the club, said the club wants to “erase the stigma” associated with STEM subjects, commenting that students often think they are difficult to understand and as a result can be discouraged from pursuing them.
“We can make it fun and light beyond the school walls,” he said. “It’s more exciting that way.”
A main reason behind the Baker-Polito administration initiating the statewide STEM Week is to hopefully bridge the gap between the available jobs in STEM fields and the number of people interested in pursuing those careers.
According to a press release from the administration, only one in six American high school seniors say they are interested in studying STEM subjects in college, and U.S. industries are projected to demand more workers with STEM backgrounds than the nation’s educational system will generate.
LANCASTER – Monica Padilla, 10, who loves science and aspires to become an astronaut one day and also sing and dance on Broadway, underscores the importance of including art in STEM studies.
On Sunday afternoon, Monica, her sister Ariely, 11, and other children from the North Central Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg, Leominster and Gardner attended a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lesson with roller skating afterward at Roll On America. During “The Science of Roller Skating,” students reverse engineered a roller skate and learned how each part functions to make the skate.
Peter J. Simmons, filmmaker and Ashby elementary special education school teacher, taught the kids about friction using surfaces in the rink to demonstrate how various materials affect the skate in motion. The kids performed an experiment to test the friction of the skating floor versus the carpet and designed a new feature for a skate.
“I thought it was cool,” Monica said, who lives in Fitchburg and attends McKay Arts Academy. She and her family skate at Roll On often, she said. “I wanted to learn more about skating. There are lots of parts in the roller skate I didn’t know about. I took off the wheel. I think it will make me a better skater.”
“They made it fun for the kids to understand that roller skates are not just wheels and a boot,” said her mother, Dorcas Padilla, a medical assistant and office manager.
“To use STEM in life, you have to be courageous,” said Mr. Simmons, who works for the national program United Skates of America. He also told the kids that historically, there have been a lot of girls and women in STEM fields. “We need more,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of including art as part of STEM discussions, with the acronym often changed to STEAM for that purpose.
“Art is part of the whole future of the world and we need to make sure we value art,” he said.
During the interactive lesson, kids who answered Mr. Simmons’ questions correctly received small prizes, including models of spaceships and rockets.
“The beauty of what we’re doing is inserting STEAM into everyday fun activities so the kids can learn how they can participate in the future,” Mr. Simmons said. “They might be doctors, artists, running a home … whatever they do, they are going to need STEAM to do a better job and create a better world. That’s my motivation.”
Jamie L. Cortes, general manager at Roll On, said the workshops, held there the last two years, combine education and physical fitness into one fun field trip.
She said her favorite part is when kids who never thought they could skate realize they can.
“They are so scared that they can’t skate, and they start and after a few minutes, they have a smile on their face,” she said. “We had a fourth-grade boy who is blind and has autism at one of the workshops and he absolutely loved to skate. It’s the best part of the program.”
Donata Martin, executive director of the area Boys & Girls Club, said the event was the region’s kickoff for STEM week, which includes family nights that also involve the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, the Central MA STEM Network, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Fitchburg State University, Mount Wachusett Community College and other institutions.
Jennifer R. Denmead of Fitchburg, who works at South Bay Early Intervention in Worcester, attended with her son, Braden T. Dow, 10, and stepson, Connor G. Jones, 8, along with her infant son and husband.
“I like the part where we took apart the skates,” Connor said. “I got to learn how skates are made with reverse engineering and how there are more than 100 parts on the skate.”
“I think it was good,” Braden said. “I liked that they taught about STEAM, but my favorite part is the skating.”
Posted Aug 17, 2018
Monty Tech students speak to Gardner youths about keeping information secure online.
GARDNER — A group of current and former Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School students with computer savvy gave important lessons about cyber security to children attending the Boys & Girls Club of Gardner summer program.
They spoke to the Boys & Girls Club children, who range from ages 8 to 12, on Thursday at Gardner Middle School where the Summer Blast program was held.
“I feel like it’s beneficial that every student has access to this knowledge,” Sullivan said. “We have to teach students to be safe online.”
A variety of topics were covered relating to cyber security, including an explanation of how wireless internet works for cell phones and laptops.
How to reduce the risk from threats such as hackers and viruses was a main discussion point.
One of the tips Commodore gave was to make sure to set a strong password for any device or account.
He spoke about all the valuable, personal information that can be exposed online, saying it is really important for the children to understand that and take steps to protect themselves.
Commodore said he graduated from Monty Tech this year and will be going on to study computer information systems at Fitchburg State University.
As he furthers his studies and prepares for a career, he said he “wants to make a difference” with any job he ends up getting.
Sullivan said he graduated two years ago from Monty Tech and is now studying computer science at UMass Dartmouth.
Rebekah Smith, a 10-year-old who lives in Gardner, was one of the children particularly engaged with the presentation on cyber security, answering some of the questions that were asked and remembering what was taught.
“It was pretty much all exciting. We got to learn how to know what is what,” she said.
Commodore and Sullivan were joined by a few other current or former Monty Tech students. All of them were either in the information technology or engineering vocational program at the school, and also were in the Marine Corps JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program taught by Marine Corps veteran Paul Jornet.
Jornet said students of his have participated in the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program which promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning.
National competitions are held for CyberPatriot, which Jornet said Monty Tech has competed in and won before.
When he told his students about the opportunity to pass on some of their knowledge to the Boys & Girls Club children in Gardner, he said “they volunteered right away to help out.”
Jornet spoke about cyber security as being increasingly important, whether it be for individuals, companies or nations such as the United States.
He said the role of computer networks in our lives is hard to overstate. Jornet brought up the example of what would happen in society should a cyber threat disrupt or shut down the electrical grid.
He said right now, there are 50,000 jobs nationwide that are needed in the cyber security field. However, there is presently a lack of qualified applicants.
“Cyber security is the largest growing field in the nation today,” he said. “We as a nation are more and more reliant on digital and cyber. We need those people and we have to protect our infrastructure.”
Whether the Boys & Girls Club children become inspired to begin a career in the cyber security field remains to be seen, but the main point of the workshop was to increase their awareness on an important issue as they likely already do, or most certainly will, use devices connected to the internet.
Isaiah Jasmin served as the team leader for the staff that ran the seven-week program, which ended on Friday, Aug. 17. He said the club was “really grateful” for its partnership with the city.
The Boys & Girls Club after-school program will resume Sept. 4, the first day of school. It is held at Gardner High School for grades five through eight.
Interested parents can sign their children up at www.bgcflg.org.
Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster get summer jobs boost from DA
Sentinel & Enterprise
LEOMINSTER — Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. donated funds as part of his Drug Forfeiture Community Reinvestment program earlier this week to help fund summer jobs for teens at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.
Early regularly uses money seized from drug crimes to provide funds for youth-focused community initiatives across Worcester County. Money is donated to various local programming based on a grant application process.
“Through this program, we can put the money that once helped drug dealers bring poison into our neighborhoods to help build up our communities,” Early said. “Providing programming for kids, keeping them busy and around responsible adults, is one of the most effective crime-prevention tools we have. The Boys & Girls Club is a great environment for these teens and I’m glad to help them get jobs participating in the great programs offered there.”
The funds donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster are being used to help fund more than 30 summer jobs for teens who help run the club’s summer programming for kids. Early annually donates to the Leominster-based club.
“This money is crucially needed for us to continue to be able to offer these jobs for these teens, who often struggle to find summer jobs due to transportation or other issues,” said Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. “We’re very thankful to receive the continued support of the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office.
Campers enjoy Summer Blast activities
Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of articles written by kids about the Boys & Girls Club Summer Blast program.
GARDNER — Since the start of the Summer Blast program on July 2, the campers have been having a great time participating in many different activities.
In the STEM sports program, the campers have been learning how to track their heart rate when playing games such as kickball. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Most of the activities we do at the Boys & Girls Club are STEM-focused.
During the warm and sunny mornings, campers were able to ride bikes outside, and even learn how to fix them when a few broke! Special guest Donna Silberstein, who is on the board of directors at the Fitchburg and Leominster Club, visited and helped us make T-shirts by placing leaves with soft-scrub bleach. The bleach created a chemical reaction, leaving an imprint of the leaf on the shirt.
Some of the other activities have been making kinetic sand, learning similarities and differences between moths and butterflies, observing caterpillar growth, and creating bookmarks for our book club. One afternoon, the campers were invited to attend a fundraiser at the middle school. We were given a book and ice cream!
Each Thursday, we have been going on field trips to Camp Collier right in town. The camp is on Lake Wampanoag, so campers can enjoy swimming and canoeing. On July 19, we had a special visitor, Glenn Davison, who led a kite-making and flying workshop.
Summer Blast at Gardner Middle School has three more weeks left. If you are interested in registering your child/children, please call 978-534-8358 or visit http://bgcfl.org/gardner/ for more information.
Ariana Rimbach, counselor in training, is an eighth-grader at Gardner Middle School.
Summer Blast – at the Boys & Girls Club in Gardner
By Andrew Mansfield
Posted Jul 23, 2018
GARDNER — The Boys & Girls Club has expanded the ways children can stay engaged over vacation by bringing a Summer Blast to Gardner.
The club is in the midst of running the seven-week program at the Gardner Middle School, which has been offered at no cost to families. The city’s Recreation Department is also helping out.
Children from age 8 to 12 are participating in a wide variety of activities covering the program’s STEAM curriculum, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
“Here in Gardner, we thought it would be a great opportunity to have a free event all summer,” said Isaiah Jasmin from the Boys & Girls Club.
Jasmin is the club’s team leader for running the program, which he coordinates with the help of a few other staff members.
He said about 50 children have signed up for the program, with around 35-45 showing up on any given day. Free breakfast and lunch is provided by the nonprofit Spanish American Center.
The program runs five days a week, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It began earlier this month and will conclude on Aug. 17.
Since 2015, the Boys & Girls Club of Gardner has run an afterschool program during the school year at Gardner High School, but this is the first time the Summer Blast program has also been held in Gardner.
On Monday, the ability to do outdoor activities was affected by the rainy weather, but inside Gardner Middle School there were several things going on.
One of them was a science experience involving the children placing an egg into a container with vinegar, which gradually dissolves the calcium of the egg shell.
The process softens the egg and it becomes bouncy like a rubber ball, creating a fun experiment.
Destiny Goguen, 10, spoke about the program’s science and art activities as being among her favorites.
“The club makes sure you’re always having fun, and if you’re bored they give you many options,” she said.
Another student in attendance was 8-year-old Jeremias Rodriguez.
“What I really like about this thing is they do most of the stuff that I really like,” he said. “Even when it’s rainy outside they always find something fun to do.”
In particular, Rodriguez said, he enjoys working on bicycles, another activity the program offers. Jasmin explained that the Gardner Police Department was kind enough to donate lost bikes that went unclaimed.
Having the bikes is a way to teach children how to ride, but also for club staff to go over with the children the mechanics of bikes and how to fix them.
For example, Rodriguez said he has practiced repairing bike chains and tightening handlebars.
Other activities the children have participated in that Jasmin spoke of include reading, gardening and playing sports and games such as chess.
On a weekly basis, the program visits Camp Collier in Gardner, where the Gardner children meet with the children from Fitchburg and Leominster and get to swim and go canoeing, among other activities.
This Friday, Jasmin said, the Gardner participants will take a special field trip to the planetarium at Framingham State University where they will simulate a space mission.
“Science is an avenue where we want to have their minds be open to,” he said.
Also new to Gardner this summer, the city has created a recreation director position along with hiring some summer staff. Those positions are funded on a part-time basis.
To make it happen, Mayor Mark Hawke was able to commit over $60,000 of city funds in the fiscal 2019 budget, which the City Council then approved.
The move was prompted by the fact that Mount Wachusett Community College, which had run a summer program for a number of years at city playgrounds with the help of grant funding, did not get grant funds for this summer.
Serving as the recreation director is Dan Forte, who also serves as the athletic director for the schools.
Due to his role expanding, he explained, he no longer is serving as a high school gym teacher.
His salary as recreation director is paid through the city, and his salary as athletic director is paid through the school budget.
For this summer, Forte said, the city is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club to enhance the program at the middle school.
That has allowed children to participate in even more programming, as his staff has been teaching the science of sports, covering topics such as reaction time.
Then the children get to actually play sports, such as soccer, basketball and even bocce.
“It’s a lot of play, but learning while they play,” Forte said.
Among the staff members for the summer program is Caitlin Bosse, a 2016 Gardner High School graduate who now attends Westfield State University where she said she is studying physical education and coaching.
On Monday she was helping to coach the children in a game of basketball in the school gym. One of the things she said she taught them was to understand the probability of being able to make different shots on the court.
That suggests the children learned that lay-ups are the highest percentage shot, but then again if they’ve ever watched NBA superstar Steph Curry, they probably think three-pointers look easy.
|SET FOR A SUMMER BLAST
Boys & Girls Club starting a new youth program
GARDNER The Boys & Girls Club of Gardner is expanding into new territory with its Summer Blast program for local youth beginning in July.
Over the last three school years, the Gardner club has operated after school at Gardner High School, but this is the first year the club is also offering a summer program, which will be held at Gardner Middle School, at 297 Catherine St.
Executive Director Donata Martin said the club is “excited” to offer some of the same activities for the summer program as well as new activities, especially outdoors.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” she said.
Martin said the summer program is being offered at no cost for children from ages 8 to 12. Breakfast and lunch will be provided through the nonprofit Spanish American Center.
The program will be held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. over the course of seven weeks, beginning on Monday, July 2, and ending on Friday, Aug. 17.
Like the regular club, Martin explained the summer program will be STEAM-focused, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. It also will have arts and crafts and sports.
The central focus of the program is to keep the children learning over the summer in an enjoyable way. The summertime is typically a period when students who are out-of-school can lose some of the academic gains they made.
“It’s all quite fun. It’s just to keep their minds going over the summer,” Martin said.
She went over one of the neat features of the program, saying that every week on Thursday will include a visit to nearby Camp Collier in Gardner.
The Boys & Girls Club of Gardner is sponsored by its parent club, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, which has its own facility in Leominster.
Last summer, Martin said, the Gardner club participated in the Summer-UP program for a few weeks, which was run by Mount Wachusett Community College, in partnership with the city, at Jackson Playground.
With the college not receiving the grant funding to run that program this summer, she explained, the Gardner club worked with the city to run its own summer program at the middle school, which has plenty of field space next to it.
Parents and guardians can download the application to sign their children up for the program at www.bgcfl.org/gardner/#summerblast.
Martin said the application can be returned to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, 365 Lindell Ave., Leominster.
For any questions, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster can be reached at 978-534-8358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through stamps and smiles, Bolduc gave so much to kids
By Peter Jasinski
LEOMINSTER — When the late Bruce Bolduc approached the Boys & Girls Club with an idea of starting a stamp collecting group nine years ago, club staff weren’t optimistic.
“Are the kids going to really like this?” Unit Director Rocco Spagnuolo recalled asking him at the time. “We
appreciate you wanting to work with us, but I’m not sure the kids are going to get into the stamps.”
Bolduc and his stamp collection would be up against flashier activities like kickball and science projects, but it wasn’t long before he had amassed what Spagnuolo now refers to as a “loyal army” of pre-teen stamp collectors.
“At its peak, he had to turn kids away,” he said. “The kids liked the stamps, but I really think they were coming more for him.”
Bolduc’s Jan. 27 passing didn’t just signify a loss for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. It was also a blow to the many children who still thought he’d be coming back to run their stamp club later this year.
“He was so nice and sweet. He was one of my favorite staff members here, and I don’t have a lot of favorites,” said Sage Dean, a 12-year-old Fitchburg resident who has been going to the club for the last two years.
Dean owns one of the hundreds of albums given out to club members in the last decade. Like the others, it’s
personalized with her name and filled with dozens of stamps Bolduc gave her from his own collection.
Volunteer Coordinator Kelly Hartnett estimates Bolduc gave away thousands of stamps during his time with the
club, but it wasn’t all Bolduc donated. He also supplied walkie-talkies to club staff and paid for the basketballs
the club league used this fall.
After totaling the amount of time he dedicated, Hartnett calculated that Bolduc would have logged roughly
2,000 hours of volunteering, making him the longest serving volunteer the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and
Leominster has ever had.
“He was heartwarming, kind. He had a soft voice and was never yelling,” said Isabella Williams, an 11-year-old
“He had a good sense of humor,” added Hailey Joseph, a Leominster 12-year-old Bolduc convinced to join the club four years ago. Neither girl had been involved in stamp collecting prior to meeting Bolduc, but they were hooked after seeing the number of stamps he had from countries all over the world. They frequently played a game where he would
have them guess the countries each stamp was from and often teased them about the answers they came up with.
“My favorite moments were that we shared a lot of laughs with him and those are moments that stay with you for the rest of your life,” said Williams.
Without anyone to coordinate the club, the stamp collecting group is currently on-hold, but staff are looking for someone to serve as a replacement.
“We’re actively trying to find someone who has that passion and wants to be involved,” said Hartnett. “It’s
important to keep that legacy of Bruce and his club because he was here for so many years.” Both Williams and Joseph said they look forward to joining the club again if staff can find a new volunteer. Dean was not as sure.
“It just wouldn’t be the same,” she said.
Wonders on display at Central Mass. Science Festival
FITCHBURG — Riley Foley looked up in amazement as a remote-controlled robot lifted a yellow box and launched it through the air.
“Woah,” the 4-year-old from Leominster yelled, with a big smile.
The robot, created by Clinton High School students, was on display at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster as part of 26 exhibits at the Central Massachusetts Science Festival.
The Clinton students said they plan to bring the robot, which could reach almost to the gymnasium’s basketball hoop, to a competition in Detroit.
The robot is a three-bar linkage lift, but it also has another name.
“Unofficially, (my teammate) calls it Shaquille O’Neal,” said Smeet Patel, one of the creators who was using a remote control to move the machine around the room.
Similar scenes were playing out all around the festival on Saturday.
In one room, Max Weagle and Ken Warchol from the Worcester County Beekeepers explained raising the insects.
Weagle said pesticides and Varroa mites are largely to blame for the recent decline in honey bee populations. However, he said he is hopeful state legislation limiting homeowner use of certain pesticides could ease the issue.
At least one colony was alive and well at the Boys & Girls Club Saturday. On the display table sat a thin box containing about 4,000 live bees.
“I can let them out if you want,” Weagle jokingly offered 10-year-old Michael Kelley of Leominster.
Kelley didn’t waste a moment.
“No, thank you,” he said.
Kelley attended with several family members, including his grandmother, Moria Mill, a biochemist.
Science, she said, is a common topic of conversation in their households.
Volunteer Pavel Loven guided visitors through one of the most popular displays: oobleck. The non-Newtonian fluid, which takes its name from a Dr. Seuss book, acts like fluid when left undisturbed, but a solid when stressed.
Balls of the substance, a simple mixture of corn starch and water, bounced on vibrating speakers as Loven welcomed visitors.
“Please, make a mess,” he said.
Sofia Hanerstein, 8, tried to shape the substance as it vibrated. Her mother, Suzanne Hanerstein, said the event offered a good opportunity for the children in attendance.
“I think it’s important to encourage girls to become interested in science,” she said, later adding: “It just encourages children’s natural interest.”
Homework humming along again thanks to hospital’s computer donation
HealthAlliance gives 10 computers to Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster
LEOMINSTER – It’ll be less of a headache for some local students trying to get their homework done thanks to a recent donation of 10 computers from HealthAlliance Hospital to the Boys & Girls Club. The computers, which have been operational since last week, were given to the club after many of the club’s older machines started breaking down in rapid succession.
The club’s teen center, where high school students usually do homework after school, went from five computers to just one in less than a year.
“Before this, there was only one computer that everyone was using and everyone was waiting for it,” said Fitchburg High School sophomore Damien Vilavong. Catherine Burgess, an instructor in the club who works in the teen center, said having enough computers is important as most homework assignments require internet access. “A lot of kids have no computer at home, no printer, no tablet. They either have this or have to work off their phones,” she said. “The hospital has no idea how much this meant to us.” Burgess said the six computers in the teen center will likely be used by 80 to 100 students every day. Four more computers from the hospital will be used for the homework rooms that children between the ages of eight and 12 use. Prior to the donation, club Executive Director Donata Martin said she hopes the new computers will make it easier for children to complete assignments from school.
“A lot of the teens weren’t able to do the research they needed to be doing before,” she said. “They were going to the tech lab or even asking to go in our offices in the staff area to use the computers because there was nowhere else to go.”
UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital s President and CEO Deborah Weymouth speaks to kids inside the homework room at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, which is filled with students using computers donated by the hospital. She is joined by Donata Martin, the executive director of the B& G Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.
“We wanted to help because the club is local and they’re doing all the right things for the community,” said Deborah Weymouth, president and CEO of UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital. “We want to continue to connect youth with the community and improve health and wellness.”