St. Andrew Avellino Catholic Academy Pre-K Science Class Goes Viral on Instagram

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Faith, Flushing, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY, Social Media

By Jessica Easthope

It’s just another Wednesday in the STEM lab at St. Andrew Avellino Catholic Academy in Flushing. Pre-K students jump over candles to see how a running start affects their distance. It’s the latest of Maureen O’Brien’s science experiments.

“Teaching is about creativity, at this age it is, and getting them engaged, they have to realize it’s not about getting the right answer, it’s about the exploration, I really believe that,” she said.

O’Brien has been teaching for more than 20 years. She’s seen it all when it comes to these kids but recently she started navigating some new territory — going viral on Instagram.

“I think it’s hysterical, I was teaching them primary colors and how to make them, at least it was science, I can incorporate my love of science into my day, I think it’s hysterical that I went viral, as does my family,” O’Brien said.

The video of one of her recent experiments has more than 127,000 views. Principal Debbie Hanna says: Who wouldn’t want to watch O’Brien’s methods in action?

“At first it was a regular video and then all of a sudden it hits 50 and then 68 and now we’re up to 127,000 views,” Hanna said. “It’s fun, people need fun things to view and Ms. O’Brien, she’s fun to view.”

In the STEM lab, O’Brien uses strategies that work, like experimentation, repetition, and movement to make sure for her kids her lessons stick.

“They leave pre-K knowing science like no other, they’re having fun but the beauty of it is they’re remembering what they learned,” Hanna said.

“We learn that we have to use all our muscles and all our strength and all our power and it’s crazy how we’re smart and we have to use our brain power and our brain is like a giant computer, that’s crazy,” said 4-year-old Owen Deieso.

“We use energy and we use our gravity, we need muscles and our brain gets even bigger because we learn,” said Mackenzie Travis, one of O’Brien’s students.

In class she addresses the students as scientists, empowering them to come to their own conclusions.

“I tell them that all the time, I don’t look for perfection, I look for effort, I look for exploration. If I can instill that in them, the confidence that it’s OK to make a mistake they’ll always feel good about what they learn and how they learn and that’s my goal to give them confidence to learn,” O’Brien said.

Even if O’Brien’s viral moment ends soon, the attention of her class is the only attention she’s looking to gain.