InsectaPalooza a hit at Strayer

The student-driven research project of posterboard dioramas included detailed information about an insect chosen by each student.
Posted on 11/04/2022
Strayer seventh-grader Kendall Kutzler gives a thumbs-up to her informational diorama of an Orchid Mantis.By Gary Weckselblatt

The buzzing in Strayer Middle School’s cafeteria wasn’t insects but families reacting to student research projects at the school’s first InsectaPalooza Thursday night.

The work of Stephanie Cucinotta’s seventh-grade students was proudly displayed on the crowded lunchroom tables in an event that illustrated the creativity of young people, their love of learning, and a teacher’s effort to rally a sense of community.

“What a turnout,” she said. “It was an amazing night filled with so many students sharing their hard work with their families.”

Following a unit in which students looked at insects under microscopes and made scientific drawings, Mrs. Cucinotta said their interest drove the assignment and fit in with her goal to increase student engagement in the classroom.

For the posterboard project, students were responsible for creating a visual that included the insect’s domain, its physical features, and its habitat. The research and organizing were done in school, and it was put together at home.

“I like organizing things,” Kendall Kutzler said. “It’s fun to see how other people organized their work and you get inspiration from these projects to do your own.”

Ella Retallick agreed. “It’s fun to decorate it however you want, and while doing research you learn stuff you didn’t know before.”

Ellie Stanziola said “I like when you can create things and make them your own. I really enjoyed doing this, especially adding colors to it.”

Principal Dr. Jennifer Bubser said It was exciting to watch the event unfold. “Mrs. Cucinotta is focused on finding ways to increase student engagement with inquiry-based and student-led opportunities,” Dr. Bubser said. “Although she is already an experienced and distinguished teacher, she is eager to expand her learning about how to most effectively reach all of her students.”

Jacki Clymer, Strayer’s Instructional Coach, worked collaboratively with Mrs. Cucinotta and the results are impressive, Dr. Bubser added. “Mrs. Cucinotta took the interests of her students into account and created a unit filled with rich learning experiences. She raised excitement for her students and they were proud to share their learning with their families. I hope this becomes a Strayer science tradition for years to come”

Assistant Principal Zach Garger said “Mrs. Cucinotta and her students did a fantastic job presenting their newly discovered understandings in an imaginative way. They gave the Quakertown community an opportunity to see student learning in action.”

Mrs. Cucinotta was a proud teacher at InsectaPalooza, speaking with parents and building up her students. “It is just so nice seeing students with their parents at this event,” Mrs. Cucinotta said. “To see the sparkle in their eyes as they proudly showed their projects to them was just incredible. I'm blessed to have such hard-working students and supportive parents.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529- 2028 or [email protected].

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