City announces summer STEM programs
by Patrick Kearns
May 12, 2015 | 2829 views | 1 1 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited Public School 302 in Vinegar Hill last week to announce a new summer science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program in partnership with Microsoft and New York University.

The citywide summer pilot program will accept 1,200 total students – 400 students from each from grades 2, 7 and 10 – to take place across ten sites in the city and run for four weeks.

The $2 million program was funded by Microsoft and public funds.

“Nothing can happen in a system where there aren’t public and private partnerships,” Fariña said on May 7 after the announcement.

“At Microsoft, we believe STEM education can create opportunities for students to build the 21st century skills needed to be successful in the future,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of education for Microsoft.

The NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering is partnering with DOE for the new, innovative program and will incorporate their robotics and “Science of Smart Cities” programs.

A total of 65 teachers will lead the program along with 40 NYU instructors.

“High-quality STEM education offers New York City students hands-on learning and problem solving opportunities that connect the world outside the classroom,” said NYU’s Polytechnic Engineering Dean Katepalli Sreenivasan.

One of the programs taught will be “Engineering is Elementary,” developed and tested by the Boston Museum of Science and the New York Hall of Science. The program integrates engineering and science concepts with skills from elementary science education.

Prior to making the announcement, Fariña toured PS 302 and visited some classrooms that were working on STEM programs. In the first room, teams of fifth-grade students were busy inventing.

One student explained that they were to come up with a problem and create an outline for an invention that addresses the problem. His particular group examined the discomfort associated with traveling and created a GPS travel pillow. It was inflatable, could fit in a pocket and vibrated when you reached your destination.

Other students created ideas like a diabetes scanner watch or a piggy bank/clock hybrid.

“They have to make sure they get patents for these ideas so that no one steals them,” Fariña remarked to the student’s teacher.

In a second-grade classroom, students explored pollution in water ecosystems and the acidity of the ocean. They conducted various experiments to see the effects items like plastic bottles have on water.

The projects incorporated math by doing number simulations and chemistry by doing science experiments.

Fariña touted the success of such programs and pointed to their multi-faceted approach to learning. She said that it wasn’t just science skills the students were picking up, but it was also helping the foundation of education by doing things like increasing their vocabulary.

The programs come at a crucial time for students: the summer, when learning can take a back seat. Instead, select students will have a chance to voluntarily focus their studies to set themselves up for success later in their schooling.

“Summer learning opportunities are crucial for staving off learning loss and preparing students for their next year, and there’s no better time for students to immerse themselves in the important STEM disciplines,” Fariña said. “Our collaboration with Microsoft and university and museum partners is making this hands-on program possible for students.”

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Concerned Reader
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May 15, 2015
Please correct this article! The school is PS 307 NOT PS 302.