Explore 2000 Middle School Students Tour the Sterling Hill Mining Museum

On April 26, 2016, the students of Explore 2000 Middle School became miners exploring the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. They took the tour through the mining tunnel, experiencing recreations of what the miners saw and did many years ago. They walked through tunnels and shafts that looked ready for work, peopled with mannequins dressed in authentic costumes with tools and machinery dating as far back as the 1830’s. There were also rooms below ground exhibiting collections of the old tools. The Rainbow Room shows many of the fluorescent rocks and other items that fluoresce in the ultraviolet light. The room and the tunnel nearby show off the fluorescent qualities of the types of zinc that were the main ore minerals found in the mine.

 The Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence showed cases of the minerals found in the mine. Each case displayed at least twenty examples of a specific mineral type. The fluorescent theme of the museum is demonstrated by minerals from many parts of the country with explanations of the activators that cause the glow. It even contains a room devoted to the history of the development of ultraviolet lights.

Ore wasn’t the only thing found by the miners. Fossils also came from the mine, including the bones of dinosaurs. The Zobel Exhibit Hall contains a life-size reproduction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull, dinosaur bones, their footprints in a slab of stone, eggs, and petrified wood. The Exhibit Hall also features a periodic table display with 112 sections, each containing a real example of the element and some information about it. There’s also the Edison room with displays of Edison’s New Jersey iron mining operation along with some of his inventions. The Hall has ore specimens and displays and even meteorites.

An entry from a miner’s diary as imagined by a First Year student:

Miner Diary Entry
by Yazan Baghdady

January 15, 1986
I found out today that the mine is closing in a few months. I’ve been working very hard to get overtime pay and searching for both jobs and minerals to sell to collectors, but I can’t find either. Today I almost took my tag home, but I remembered. Thank god I don’t have to clean the toilets in two days. I feel kind of bad for the new miner, Richard Dixon. He forgot his tag twice, and his light went out when he was on level 18. However, instead of staying put, as any normal miner would, Dixon wandered around and almost got blown up. The boss had to pay 20 miners overtime to find him, so Dixon is probably going to clean the honeypots on Friday, unless someone does something stupider, which is unlikely, given our jobs are on the line. The bosses have been laying off bad miners left and right to prepare for the closing of the mine. I’m lucky that I’m bringing in a decent amount of zinc, but it’s been getting harder to find. Honestly, I think that we’ve mined most of the zinc to find. I’m not crazy about being a miner, but I have to be able to support myself. Anyway, I’m getting desperate, especially because other miners are finding gems when I can’t. By now, I’m looking more for gems than zinc. One of the only interesting things that happened this week was that Michael Fettick almost fell into the crusher while breaking rocks. To finish this entry, I’m still looking for a job, but I have an interview next week. If this is ever read, wish me luck.

A First Year student, Lorey Cutkelvin, wrote about her experience:

Stirling Hill Mining Museum
Explore 2000 Middle School were hired as miners at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. We learned all about the life, responsibilities and requirements of a miner. One of the things we learned was about how they used canaries to help identify when there was carbon dioxide in the air. We all give a huge thank you to the great guides and entire facility at the mine for making this learning experience amazing.

Explore 2000 Students Win Recycled Regatta at Earthfest

On May 14, 2016, the eighth grade Explore 2000 team of Daniel McClain and Aaron Joshua with Crew Captain, Frank Colaluca won first place in the recycled regatta at the third annual Earthfest in Overpeck Park. It was the first time the Explore teams such an event with these boats. Afterwards, Daniel McClain said, “I was scared until we got into the boat and then I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to float.’ I think we were scared just because we knew we built it from the ground up.” The event is the highlight of the annual celebration of the outdoors. The Earthfest event is hosted by the Hackensack Riverkeeper, North Jersey’s leading advocate for clean water.

Amid green vendors, live music, and other activities meant to teach and demonstrate the reduce, reuse and recycle theme, the Regatta is a race on the Hackensack Creek in vessels made from used and recycled materials. At least 80% of the vessel must be made of such materials. Plastic bags and Styrofoam are not allowed because they are damaging to the waterways. The racing vessels have to be self-propelled with bonus point awarded for homemade paddles. They must contain at least two people, including a designated Crew Captain. Strict safety rules must be followed and safety gear including life vests must be worn. To win, the team must remain in the vessel and it should cross the finish line with all pieces on board. Any part that falls off must be retrieved in the spirit of discarding nothing in the waterways. Teams have to carry logos of any sponsors they have and the logos of the Earthfest sponsors too. Teams are expected to raise money for Hackensack Riverkeeper and an award is given for the team that raises the most money. The complete list of requirements for the annual race are here.
The Explore 2000 students in the Hands On Learning and Design (HOLD) program which promotes experimental learning, designed, built and launched two vessels made of recycled materials. Their projects were made from used pickle barrels, PVC pipe and empty soda bottles. The eighth grade team rowed to the first place win and the second boat, rowed by the seventh grade team of Andrew Kibalo and Angel Pinto led by Crew Captain Lauren Norcia, tied for second place. An article from NorthJersey.com can be found here.
Ms. Amy Lin-Rodriguez, Explore 2000’s principal said, “The Recycled Regatta was a great opportunity for our learners to combine physical fitness with STEM, under the supportive leadership of facilitator Frank Colaluca.”
President of the HCST Foundation which supplies financial support for the HOLD program, Daniel Gans said, “Congratulations to all the participating students.”  
Frank J. Gargiulo, HCST district superintendent, added, “This is a fine achievement that demonstrates authentic learning and I’m proud of the work of the student and their instructors,”   
HCST Foundation Executive Director Linda J. Quentzel said, “We were proud to support the HOLD program and we are glad to see this endeavor having success. A hearty congrats to Aaron and Daniel on their victory!”

Explore 2000 Announces Summer STEM Camp

The Explore 2000 Middle School announced the opening of registration for its Science, Technology, engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Summer Camp 2016, which will take place from July 18th through July 29th. Students entering fifth through eighth grades in the fall of 2016 are eligible to apply and will be taught by certified teachers from Explore 2000 and certified facilitators from STEM Education, LLC.

“We are excited for the 2016 STEM Summer Camp,” said Explore 2000 Principal Amy Lin-Rodriguez. “Thanks in part to the HCST Foundation, students will have the opportunity to learn about the STEM field in a fun and interactive manner.”

The STEM Summer Camp seeks to prepare campers for the future as engineers, scientists, business marketing and creative professional. Through comprehensive math and science lessons, the camper will better understand the concepts and skills needed to be tomorrow’s technology and business leaders.

“This is an innovative approach to teaching, we believe that proper instruction, teamwork, competition and challenge will allow our campers to build a passion for the STEM field,” said Lin-Rodriguez.

Through the national STEM Initiative, campers will learn the STEM field by designing and racing model race cars and participating in a Student Racecar Challenge. The students will compete as part of a team using electric radio control cars.

The tuition will be $375 for the two week session, and includes all supplies and camper t-shirts. Those interested in taking part in the STEM Summer Camp can call (201) 631-6396. http://www.hcstonline.org/explore2000/stem-camp.html 

Explore 2000 Middle School at the Urban Watershed Program

The First Year students at Explore 2000 Middle School spent the week of May 9, 2016 working on the Urban Watershed Education Program. Part of the New Jersey department of Environmental Protection, the program begins with a day in the classroom. The students prepared for their field experience with lessons in map reading, learning to identify the local waterways, estuaries, bioaccumulation, watersheds and identifying water species that are under NJDEP Fish Consumption advisories.


Global climate change and the effect it will have on estuaries was discussed along with some ways the students can help to reduce energy consumption. Life forms found in local waterways were discussed as well and the species that are not safe to eat were pointed out. They also learned about the food chain and health effects from eating fish and crabs contaminated with pollution.

On the second day of the program, students traveled to the local waterways to engage in activities that showed how pollution occurs and how it is affected by a watershed. They learned how citizens can reduce and prevent pollution. Dariya Kubska said, ” I always hear about pollution, but to see it up close is different. It makes me think about what our generation is doing to our planet.”


And eco-tour by boat was conducted by the Hackensack RiverKeeper. The students saw how people meet nature in an urban waterway as they learned how to coexist in harmony. The students observed and conducted tests of the water, learning to monitor the levels of healthy and harmful chemicals. The students learned what is needed for water to sustain life. Tests included dissolving oxygen, nitrates, phosphates, temperature, turbidity and salinity. Amanda Zweifler commented, “I never knew there was so much science behind water.” Groups compared their results and discussed how results can vary from one location to another.

The Hackensack RiverKeeper has been presenting this program for 20 years at no cost to schools. This interactive program provides a front row seat to environmental issues in our neighborhood and encourages them to look at habits that may not be conducive to protecting our planet.

Explore 2000 Student Sings the National Anthem at the Prudential Center

Prudential Center: National Anthem Experience
By Lauralie Mufute
 I didn’t know this then, but my journey to sing at the Prudential Center started on Veterans Day, November 11th, 2015. My mom was there at the Veteran’s Day celebration and she saw me sing the Star Spangled Banner. She thought it could be possible for me to sing the National Anthem at the N.J. Devils game on December 19th, 2015 because the dance studio I currently take classes at was performing that day. My mom coordinated with my dance teacher and I got a chance to audition to sing at the Prudential Center. I didn’t get to sing on December 19th, which is the date the performing group I’m in performed. I finally got to sing on Saturday, February 6th, 2016.

I sang the national anthem at the New Jersey Devils vs. Washington Capitals game. When I walked towards the ice to sing, I was a bit nervous because I had NEVER performed in front of 16,000 people before. I took deep breaths and calmed myself so I wouldn’t mess up. There were a lot of people who were behind the ice with me and they told me to do my best like I did at practice. I had a lot of fun singing at the Devils game and I hope to do it again.

Explore 2000 Ring Ceremony 2016

On May 6, 20126, the graduating class of Explore 2000 Middle School held its Ring Ceremony. The first Ring Ceremony celebrated in the new building was an emotional event. It symbolized the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The Third Year class faced the audience of First and Second Year students as they received their class rings and relived memories.


Each Third Year student was introduced by a video description by Second Year students or teachers. Each introduction began with a characterization of the student, ending with the student’s name. Many of the videos brought laughter to the listeners. One by one, the graduating class came to the podium and received their ring which was placed on their fingers by Ms. Garrett and Ms Norcia. Parents and friends commemorated the moment with photos.

A slideshow of pictures featuring the experiences of the Class of 2016. The class enjoyed sharing the memories.

The slideshow was accompanied by two songs, 
“Be Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw  

“Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble an kind.”

and “My Wish” by  Rascal Flatts 
“I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get” 

The history of class rings was shared. The class ring tradition began in 1835 at West Point Military Academy when rings were given to show unity of the class members and remembrance of the experience of their time at the Academy. Included in class ring tradition is turning the ring for good luck. The number of turns corresponds to the year of graduation. The class of 2016 will turn their rings 116 times.

The ring is turned towards the pinkie and a wish is made for that person. The last turn is done by somebody special.
The last turn is not towards the pinkie but towards the middle finger or towards the heart to lock in all the good wishes so that they come true. 

Explore 2000 Hosts Mock Presidential Election

On Thursday May 5, 2016, Explore 2000 2nd Year student hosted a presidential platform presentation and mock primary election. Although Ted Cruz dropped out of the race two days before the event, he graciously participated.

The candidates were Donald Trump (Willie Montanez), Hillary Clinton (Alex Vogiatzis), Bernie Sanders (George Vogiatzis), and Ted Cruz (Cole Goodman). Mr. Dunphy served as moderator. The students prepared by watching debates and researching the candidates’ politions on topics like: Education, Student Loans, Child Care, Immigration, Taxes and Social Security.

During the presentation, students in the audience were enthusiastically chanting the catch phrase of their candidate’s platform and waving signs showing support.

Following the demonstration was a mock election. Ted Cruz received 0 votes, Hillary 13, Trump 15 and Sanders 35! It seems obvious that Explore students are FEELING THE BERN…

Student reactions:

Amanda (1st Year) said, “It got me interested in the presidential debate.”

Jeremy (1st Year) said, “It gave students new ways to look at politics instead of from what they hear outside.”

Lucas (1st Year) said, “It was fun and informative.”

Lauralie (1st Year) said, “I am very interested in politics now and it was very fun to watch.”

Roxie (1st Year) said. “I thought that everyone did well. Their research was on point and fit well with the vibe of the debate.”

Serena (2nd Year) said, “I personally did not know much about the process involved in the presidential nomination/ election. This really helped me learn about what is going on in the world.”

The students worked hard to learn about the election process and had fun while doing it!

Explore 2000 Middle School students at HTHS STEM Day

On February 10, 2916, students from the Explore 2000 Middle School attended High Tech High School’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Day. Held in February to observe Career and Technical Education month, the school’s business and higher education partners engaged with High Tech’s Digital Design and Fabrication Academy (DFAB) students to offer a day targeting college and career readiness for sophomores and juniors while combining activities for underclassmen.

High Tech took advantage of STEM Day’s themes to show off its cutting edge technology used for education as in the wood technology program and robotic program. “I really liked the wood technology program,” said Laila Downing, a sixth-grade student from HCST’s Explore 2000 program. “I never thought you could make so many things out of wood, like iPhone cases and skateboards. This really makes me want to come to High Tech and learn more about woodworking.”

Explore 2000 Middle School sent first year students Jaheem Ellison, Laila Downing, Jeremy Madray, and Jianna Rodriguez and second year students Sydney Perelson and Cole Goodman to experience the day.

Central to the day’s activities is the open fair which gave students a chance to demonstrate and explain special projects they worked on. High Tech students and science majors, Edwin Argudo and Kunj Patel presented as their project a robot controlled with game controllers connected by coding they made with Android phones.

Also featured were lectures by professionals such as Tiffany Onorato, Stevens Institute of Technology; Jazlyn Carvajal, Director of Finance for Latinas in STEM Foundation; and John Cays; New Jersey Institute of Technology College of Architecture & Design.

Here, Explore 2000 Middle School student, Sydney Perelson tells of her experience.

     “I went to the STEM Day at High Tech along with some of the other kids from PLTW Robotics and Design and Modeling. We got to see different projects involving STEM. I looked at video games that people designed. I also checked out a robot made with a VEX Kit that was used to move balls arounds on a mat. I looked at projects made by a CNC Machine and a 3D Printer. There were also many other things that I didn’t go to.”

“My favorite part was this one table that had video games and projects with a 3D printer. In the games you would move pieces around with your hands. I also favored one of the projects, it was a puzzle you could try to solve. The other tables were cool but I favored that one table. The STEM Day was a fun learning experience and I had a great time.”

STEM Day at Explore 2000 Middle School

Hudson County Schools of Technology, Explore 2000 eighth grade students held an exciting STEM activity this trimester using race car technology sponsored by STEMeducationllc. Before the holidays, the students were learning the Pythagorean theorem and were told they would take part in a STEM activity that would require teams of four. After the teams were chosen, they developed team names and designed team logos. The rules of the activity were given so students could discuss and develop team strategies. The objective was to attain the greatest team distance by driving their cars through an obstacle course on the gym floor. The floor would be designed as the Cartesian coordinate plane using the point of origin and the positive x and y axes.

The first activity was for the students to create the track and obstacle course on the gym floor according to a given design using measuring wheels, plastic strips and cones. The students then worked in teams of four, driving one at a time, using strategies to avoid or eliminate obstacles to gain the greatest distance under 30 seconds. Once an obstacle was hit, that became the point of measurement. The obstacle was then removed from the field to clear a path for the next driver. All members were engaged in the activity. They were driving, measuring, using stopwatches or recording data. Once all of the data was collected, the calculations were made using the Pythagorean theorem. The students had fun and cheered each other on. In this competition, there were all winners!

Our Summer STEM camp program is now available!
Spaces are limited

Students entering 5th through 8th grade can be signed up

Duration: 10 Day STEM Summer Camp
Dates: July 18th – July 29th
Hours: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Monday through Friday
Overview: Students work on investigations and projects that parallel those of racecar teams. Through comprehensive math and science lessons, students will better understand the skills needed to be tomorrow’s technology and business leaders.
Activities led by STEM Education Consultants, LLC and Explore 2000 Facilitators.
Pricing: $375 registration fee