Updated: Oct 12
As New Jersey’s leading educational and technology center, Arena STEM extends an especially warm welcome to local schools. One of our most loyal and enthusiastic groups is “Scarlet Studio” from Ridgefield Park High School.
Founded and headed by the dynamic and inspiring Patricia Congalton, a special education teacher at Ridgefield Park HS, “Scarlet Studio” is an innovative and successful program that helps special needs students, ages 13 to 21. They face a wide range of physical and developmental challenges but are actively overcoming them.
Since September 2021, monthly visits to Arena STEM have been an integral part of “Scarlet Studio”. Both staff and students are eager to come here, learn new skills and to perfect those already acquired. The Studio’s main pedagogical premise is community-based instruction.
“The staff is super awesome: very friendly and welcoming, and they work very well with my students,” said Ms. Congalton. “Arena STEM is colorful, bright and stimulating; my students really want to be here; they get to play with ‘toys’ that are scientific.”
“Everyone has a great time at Arena STEM field trip; they’re doing the work and learning so much,” adds Ms. Congalton. “They’re loving this. They’re socializing and learning; all the things I want them to do.”
Previously, many educators thought Ms. Congalton’s students would never be able to enter the community and live independent lives. However, she was determined to prove them wrong. Four years ago, she set up “Scarlet Studio”, which started with just six students. Today, there are 20.
The Studio’s focus is on functional life skills. Every day, they go somewhere to learn. They don’t sit in the classroom. And that’s where Arena STEM fits brilliantly into the curriculum.
Arena STEM helps in a number of ways. First, the program is hands-on and fun. Students obtain a science and technology education, but in a fun way. Second, Arena STEM offers ideas that can then be replicated in the classroom or at home. For example, thanks to their visits to Arena STEM, “Scarlet Studio” acquired two drones and three remote-controlled cars that students can use.
“While you can come here just once, it’s better to come multiple times, and each time to build and improve your skills, whether it’s motor skills, technology skills or social skills,” said Steven Brownstein, Director of STEM Education at Arena STEM.
At the end of the day, however, the most important opinion is what the students say about Arena STEM.
“I come here to play with the toys and be with my friends,” said Hanser, age 14. “Here, I learn how to drive the cars and boats. And the drones are so cool. This is the first time that I can do this.”
“I like Aqua Zone and the boats,” chimes in his friend, Moctezuma, age 13. “I recommend everyone to come here.”
For more information about organizing a school trip to Arena STEM, please contact:
Steven Brownstein at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (201) 301-8144.