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Building Bridges with Northeastern University

By Joshua Mould ’19 and Hunter Broadbent ’19, #XBCorps

Students spent the day in Boston, immersed at Northeastern’s STEM Center for Education.

This fall, Xaverian seniors traveled into Boston for the day to participate in a seminar on engineering at Northeastern University, an experience that was bookended this spring when grade 7 students had their opportunity to attend. On November 30, Jim McPhillips ’86 brought seniors from his AP Physics and Intro to Engineering classes to Northeastern’s STEM Center for Education. “The focus of the day was exposing high school students to multiple engineering disciplines by means of interactive labs and activities,” Mr. McPhillips explained. 

“I really enjoyed seeing the school, for one,” said participant Justin Sayah ’19. “My favorite part, though, was the central nervous system presentation. A programmer and a biology professor explained and discussed how stem cells divide and how tumorous cells can envelop your whole system. I found that to be very cool.”

The second part of the day included a presentation on batteries. A Northeastern professor explained the composition of batteries and then cut them open so the students could explore the components inside. In another section, seniors took part in a challenge to see if they could build a small structure that could withstand the stress produced by an earthquake simulator. Later in the school year, seniors in Intro to Engineering expanded on their learning on this subject back at Xaverian, building bridges to withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure. They tested their models in the Domenic Lalli Strength and Conditioning Center.

“It is so important that we provide these hands-on, real-world learning opportunities for our students, both in science and throughout the curriculum,” said Dr. Jacob Conca ’94, Principal. “Our Class of 2024 enjoyed a similar experience this spring with their own day of learning at Northeastern.”

Under the direction of Francis Xavier Division science teacher, Sean Gunning ’11, all grade 7 students spent a day at Northeastern on April 9 during which they, too, learned about engineering and were able to test their hands at real-world applications. Students rotated through three main stations: an overfishing simulation, snap circuits, and a shake table. With overfishing, modern political, biological, and economic connections were drawn to show just how tough it can be to juggle the many aspects of feeding everybody. For the snap circuits, students overviewed energy flow and energy sources (a unit they study in the seventh grade curriculum), as well as circuit types, before getting a chance to build their own circuits to light a bulb, spin a fan, or play a speaker. Finally, the shake table was the highlight of the day. Students not only built a structure to test its strength against earthquake forces, but also were given the chance to stand on the table themselves to see if they could withstand the shake test...a perfectly fun ending to a seventh grade day of learning.
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A private, Catholic, college preparatory day school for boys in grades 7-12. The Boston area prep school offers a rigorous academic curriculum, a well-developed campus ministry program focused on faith, character, and leadership, and a proud athletic tradition featuring competitive Division 1 high school athletics in the Catholic Conference.