6th Grade STEAM with Mr. Lupini

By Ellis Henderson

Paul Lupini is a renowned Middle School science teacher at Collegiate, known for his numerous stories about his life, handiwork outside of school, and love of the outdoors. After relocating to Virginia in 2001 from New Jersey, he taught biology and earth, environmental, and forensic sciences at Matoaca High School until 2004. Daniela Guzman, a Middle School Spanish teacher at Collegiate and former Matoaca teacher, told him about a job at Collegiate as a science teacher that was made available due to the retirement of Jim Hickey. Since 2004, Lupini has taught at Collegiate and has become recognized as a kind teacher who is also well-known for his disciplinary tactics. His records for demerits given out in a day remains at 23, while his yearly record is 86.

Testing underwater ROVs at the Collegiate Aquatics Center.

Demerits are not the focus in his sixth grade science classroom, however. One project the students are working on is a long-term STEAM project that has challenged the sixth grade boys to combine oceanography with remote operated underwater vehicles, or ROVsThe STEAM curriculum has been used in the Middle School to help to expose younger students to the core subjects. Lupini has worked on curricular projects with STEAM Coordinator Daniel Bartels and Middle School Technology Coordinator Dan Bell, and the program has grown in the last few years. Lupini has been making ROVs with his students for the past couple of years, and each year they test them in various ways.  

In the spring, they take these ROVs to the Collegiate Aquatic Center and test them on an underwater obstacle course created by Lupini. The sixth grade STEAM projects improve the engineering and programming skills of the Middle Schoolers. They are learning how to build underwater vehicles that look like various marine animals, like stingrays and sea turtles. The basis of this project is the U.S Marine’s Seaperch Competition. 

In the spring, groups test their submersibles at Collegiate Aquatics Center, and they are graded on how well the vehicles are assembled and how they navigate the underwater obstacles.

Here is footage from this past spring’s tests in the pool, filmed by the STEAM faculty.

All photos by James Dickinson.

About the author

Ellis Henderson is a Junior at Collegiate.