The Stars Challenge at Monmouth University
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Winter 2016 Courses at Monmouth University
January 2016 – March 2016

Click here for a brochure (pdf) on our Winter 2016 courses and here for the on-line application.  These courses are taught at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

The courses we’re offering in Winter 2016 are listed below and described in more detail further down the page. 

  • 6th Grade:  Forensics by Ms. Shirley Hui.  This class is full.  We'll be happy to add you to the wait list.
  • 6th and 7th Grade:  Patterns in Nature by Mr. Michael T. Roche and Ms. Sarah Gross.  This class is full.  We'll be happy to add you to the wait list.
  • 7th and 8th Grade:  Explore Biotechnology by Mr. David Fusco. This class is full.  We'll be happy to add you to the wait list.
  • 7th and 8th Grade:  Explore, Imagine and Build by Mr. John Valente.  This class is full.  We'll be happy to add you to the wait list.
  • 8th Grades:  Explore the Universe! by Mr. Marc Coe. Now open to 7th graders!

Key Dates

  • December 18, 2015:  Application deadline.  
  • December 29, 2015:  Notification of acceptance by email.
  • January 4, 2016:  $500 tuition due.  Please mail your check to:
    • ​The Stars Challenge
    • 11 Buttonwood Lane
    • Rumson, NJ 07760
  • Week of January 4, 2016:  Classes start.

Winter 2016:  Short Course Descriptions   

  • 6th Grade – Forensics  
    • Did you ever wonder how investigators solve crimes?  Do you enjoy watching episodes of CSI?  Well, this course is for students who love solving mysteries. Each session will provide students an opportunity to build investigative skills and work like a crime scene investigator.  Students take active roles as characters in the mysteries.  Student-sleuths will analyze physical evidence and debate possible hypotheses.  We will learn how to use evidence to reconstruct a crime scene. Labs will show students how to analyze lipstick samples, fiber samples, and mystery powders.  If mysteries have always intrigued you, and you would rather be actively solving them than just reading about them, then this forensics course is perfect for you.  More…
    • Check out the pictures from previous courses in 20132014 and 2015.  Or you might prefer our Forensics Video.
    • Ms. Shirley Hui is a science teacher at Cedar Drive School in Colts Neck.  She holds a BS in Education and an MS in the Elementary Science and Environmental Program from the City University of New York at Brooklyn College.  Ms. Hui believes in a "hands-on" approach to learning and knows the importance of helping her students make connections between science and their every day lives.  More…
    • The course will be offered on Monday evenings from 6:00-8:00 PM at Monmouth University starting January 4.
    • The tuition is $500.  Application.
  • 6th and 7th Grade – Patterns in Nature
    • Patterns in Nature will once again be led by Mr. Roche and Mrs. Gross. They will be assisted by an exceptional group of guest scientists and educators who will present their favorite lessons giving students a glimpse into various specialized areas of science. We'll cover the wave patterns in astronomy, the unique properties of water in chemistry, the Fibonacci Sequence in math, the molecular structure of DNA in biotechnology, fractals, and maybe even the chaos evident in nature. Come explore why natural patterns can be such beautiful science, math, and art.  More…
    • Check out the pictures from the previous courses in 20132014 and 2015.  Or perhaps you'd prefer our video.
    • Mr. Roche is a research advisor and biology teacher at High Technology High School.  He was recently honored with a Siemens Founders Award and fellowship that allowed him to work with a materials science research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Ms. Gross is an English teacher at High Technology High School and was Teacher of the Year in 2013. She is actively involved in Reach A Reader, the Cybils Awards and Curious Young Writers.  More…
    • This course will be offered on Monday evenings from 6:00-8:00 PM at Monmouth University starting January 4. 
    • The tuition is $500.  Application.
  • For 7th and 8th Graders -- Explore Biotechnology.  
    • Explore Biotechnology is a lab intensive course that will give participants hands-on training in the use of the most common tools and technologies in biotechnology.   Students will learn and experiment with advanced, cutting-edge techniques such as DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and gel electrophoresis, which scientists frequently apply to the medical and agricultural fields.  A capstone investigation will allow students to determine whether or not certain foods have a genetically modified component by combining multiple techniques taught throughout the course.  More...
    • Check out the pictures from the previous courses in Winter 2014, Fall 2014, and Winter 2015.
    • Mr. David Fusco is a biotechnology teacher at Biotechnology High School (BTHS) in Freehold, NJ.  Additionally, he has served as an adjunct in the Biology department at Brookdale Community College.  Selected as BTHS Teacher of the Year 2010-2011, Mr. Fusco has authored and implemented a variety of courses including Molecular & Agricultural Biotechnology, and BioBusiness.  More...
    • This course will be taught on Tuesday evenings from 6:00-8:00 pm at Monmouth University beginning January 5.  Fill out your on-line application here.
  • 7th and 8th Grades – Explore, Imagine and Build
    • While watching your favorite television show, a news alert flashes a warning about possible tornadoes or electrical storms sweeping across your town.  How will you protect yourself, your family and your house?   Why are roller coasters so much fun?  Why can’t you walk on a planet ten times the mass of the Earth?  Why would space travelers be crushed if a spaceship accelerated to almost the speed of light (even though you see this all the time at the movies)?  How does a karate expert break boards with their hands? You’ll find out by taking this course.  Each week you’ll investigate and discover the rules that govern one or two physical principles.  Then you’ll explore the ideas yourself, create a device that illustrates the ideas, and build it.  You will use these devices to compete in the class competitions and take them home and amaze your friends with your new brainpower.  The prizes are donuts! More…
    • Check out the pictures from Mr. Valente’s earlier courses in 20132014 and 2015.  Or perhaps you'd prefer our video.
    • Mr. John Valente is a teacher at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST).  He teaches physics, with an emphasis on physical oceanography, and AP physics.  He is also the Vice-President of the New Jersey American Association of Physics Teachers and conducts frequent workshops for physics teachers with the goal of improving physics teaching.  More…
    • This course will be offered on Monday evenings from 6:00-8:00 PM at Monmouth University starting January 4. 
    • The tuition is $500.  Application.
  • 8th Grades – Explore the Universe!
    • “I learned that you can never dream, think, or imagine too big when it comes to the universe.  With all that is unknown in our vast, vast universe, at least one of my crazy ideas is bound to be real.”  This quote by one of our students captures the essence of this astronomy course. You’ll ask the questions that have puzzled you as you look into the vastness of the night sky. As you discover answers, you’ll find that more questions will arise.  In this hands-on course, students will explore astronomy and physics, including the nature of light and ballistics.  Lasers and mirrors will be used to probe the properties of light.  We will use telescopes on The Great Lawn at Monmouth University to observe the planets, stars and constellations.  We'll use slingshots to simulate meteor impacts (always a messy activity) and use Bunsen burners to simulate space craft re-entry through the earth's atmosphere.  More…
    • Check out the pictures from earlier courses in 20132014 and 2015.
    • Mr. Coe is an experienced educator with many years of math and science instruction experience.  He was recognized by the New Jersey State Systemic Initiative Program for innovative use of technology in the classroom.  He has presented workshops at Rutgers University.  Mr. Coe believes that successful science instruction involves critical thinking and problem solving using real world situations.  More…
    • This course will be offered on Tuesday evenings from 6:00-8:00 PM at Monmouth University starting January 5. 
    • The tuition is $500.  Application.