Our Science of Smart Cities (SoSC) middle school students used post-it easel paper, rulers, pencil crayons, wire, hot glue and a LOT of imagination to plan and portray their ideal city layouts, one of the many hands-on activities that they complete during the month-long NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Center for K12 STEM Education program. The students put their ongoing education on engineering, technology, sustainability and environmental issues to work and created more than 30 city layouts of all shapes and sizes, including transit systems, renewable energy, and in one case, a giant hamster wheel to power the city! Scroll down to see some of our best SoSC 2016 smart city designs (click on the photos for a closer look) and read quotes from our promising city planners-to-be.

“Science of Smart Cities helps us learn things that we never knew before, also how to help our environment.” - Hassan (left) “Science of Smart Cities helps us to be more aware of our surroundings, and be more conservative of our trees and the oxygen that they give us and the electricity that we use from them.” - Kalifa (left)

“Science of Smart Cities helps us learn things that we never knew before, and also how to help our environment.” – Hassan (left)
“Science of Smart Cities helps us to be more aware of our surroundings, and be more conservative of our trees and the oxygen that they give us and the electricity that we use from them.” – Kalifa (right)

“A smart city has to have the key component of having renewable resources and things that don’t cause pollution, because pollution can kill plants and animals. Air pollution, light pollution, sound pollution– it all really affects the way we live. Also, we need to use sensors wisely. For example if there’s a water leak, you need a sensor to notify that there is a water leak to save money and so we can fix it earlier.” - Michelangelo (left) “In a smart city there wouldn’t be so much pollution and people would have a lot of the things they would need to have.” - Cara (right)

“A smart city has to have the key component of having renewable resources and things that don’t cause pollution, because pollution can kill plants and animals. Air pollution, light pollution, sound pollution– it all really affects the way we live. Also, we need to use sensors wisely. For example if there’s a water leak, you need a sensor to notify that there is a water leak to save money and so we can fix it earlier.” – Michelangelo (left)
“In a smart city there wouldn’t be so much pollution and people would have a lot of the things they would need to have.” – Cara (right)

“The most important thing in a smart city is transportation and different types of renewable resources. We showed that in our diagram by showing multiple routes of trains and busses going to different locations." - Hivansh "We had many different energy sources. The three that we used were hydropower, power from windmills and solar energy. It’s very important, because without the energy that we need, it’s pretty much impossible to run a smart city. Smart cities mainly rely on electricity." - Jordan (not pictured)

“The most important thing in a smart city is transportation and different types of renewable resources. We showed that in our diagram by showing multiple routes of trains and busses going to different locations.” – Hivansh
“We had many different energy sources. The three that we used were hydropower, power from windmills and solar energy. It’s very important, because without the energy that we need, it’s pretty much impossible to run a smart city. Smart cities mainly rely on electricity.” – Jordan (not pictured)

“One of the most important things in a smart city is transportation. I demonstrated this in my city by adding multiple train and bus paths, and by making big lanes near the health areas. That way, people can get there faster during emergencies.” - Vivian (left) Eamonn (right)

“One of the most important things in a smart city is transportation. I demonstrated this in my city by adding multiple train and bus paths, and by making big lanes near the health areas. That way, people can get there faster during emergencies.” – Vivian (left)
Eamonn (right)

“A major thing that you need to make sure is that everywhere is accessible. In New York right now, there’s some bald spots so to say, where there’s no access and the nearest station is a bus ride away. So when we make a new city and we have an improved system, it should reach to all corners of the boroughs. I think that’s really important.” - T.J. (left) “I think that in every location in a neighborhood they should have similar patterns. They should have a residential area and then the school should always be close to the residential area so it’s easily accessible. They should have buildings and grocery stores around, and things that make it more accessible.” - Bradley (right)

“A major thing that you need to make sure is that everywhere is accessible. In New York right now, there’s some bald spots so to say, where there’s no access and the nearest station is a bus ride away. So when we make a new city and we have an improved system, it should reach to all corners of the boroughs. I think that’s really important.” – T.J. (left)
“I think that in every location in a neighborhood they should have similar patterns. They should have a residential area and then the school should always be close to the residential area so it’s easily accessible. They should have buildings and grocery stores around, and things that make it more accessible.” – Bradley (right)

“A smart city helps the city stop polluting.” - Kymoy (left) “It’s important that a smart city meets everyone’s needs… and when there’s no pollution everyone feels more comfortable, and they don’t feel surrounded by trash.” - Johann (right)

“A smart city helps the city stop polluting.” – Kymoy (left)
“It’s important that a smart city meets everyone’s needs… and when there’s no pollution everyone feels more comfortable, and they don’t feel surrounded by trash.” – Johann (right)

“A smart city would have to affect the city itself in a positive way, and it would have to integrate technology and sensors in ways that benefit the environment.” - Alyssa

“A smart city would have to affect the city itself in a positive way, and it would have to integrate technology and sensors in ways that benefit the environment.” – Alyssa

“The reason I included hydro dams and solar power inside of my smart city was because I wanted to use less pollution.” - Isabel (left) “We created these smart cities to show how we can create good transportation routes and improve our cities. We created a way for homes to be more advanced, use solar panels and stuff like that.” - Candice (center) “Transportation... I modelled that in my smart city presentation by adding trains and busses and cars, because people need to get from one place to another, quicker.” - Jaila (right)

“The reason I included hydro dams and solar power inside of my smart city was because I wanted to use less pollution.” – Isabel (left)
“We created these smart cities to show how we can create good transportation routes and improve our cities. We created a way for homes to be more advanced, use solar panels and stuff like that.” – Candice (center)
“Transportation… I modelled that in my smart city presentation by adding trains and busses and cars, because people need to get from one place to another, quicker.” – Jaila (right)

“The reason we chose a grid layout is because it’s easier to get around... For example, New York is like a grid so it’s easier to get to each place.” - Jonathan (left) "I find it important to use less energy and be very green, with a lot of trees, bushes and nature in the city.” - Kat (right)

“The reason we chose a grid layout is because it’s easier to get around… For example, New York is like a grid so it’s easier to get to each place.” – Jonathan (left)
“I find it important to use less energy and be very green, with a lot of trees, bushes and nature in the city.” – Kat (right)

“I think it’s important that we have more ways to conserve our energy and use less fossil fuels.” - Louisiana

“I think it’s important that we have more ways to conserve our energy and use less fossil fuels.” – Louisiana

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Last week, students in our FREE, three-week, full-day GenCyber Computer Science for Cyber Security (CS4CS) Summer Program for High School Women discovered “Leonardo DiHatrio’s” stolen Oscar at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, along with a Caesar cipher-encoded note. Was the crime committed by “Mark Puckerberg,” the queen, or another culprit? The young women set off on a camp-long mystery challenge to find out. Watch part one of our two-part web series to see how they use ‪their new cybersecurity‬ and computer science skills, like Autopsy to recover a deleted file, to determine who thieved the Academy Award. Ultimately, they’ll use skills learned during CS4CS to compete in the nation-wide Cyber Security Awareness Week annual High School Forensics Challenge along with team members from their high school.

The GenCyber CS4CS Program is generously funded by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency. To learn more about the course content, check out a post on the program in our #STEMNOW blog and a sample syllabus.

GenCyber Mystery Challenge – Part 1 from Center for K12 STEM Education on Vimeo.

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If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, you know we shifted into high gear this week with the start of Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering, GenCyber and Science of Smart Cities. It’s been an amazing week, with Expanded Schools interns teaching circuitry to our diverse group of ARISE students, GenCyber starting cybersleuth work on a camp-long mystery, and SoSC learning skills that range from the art of giving presentations to the science of building LED circuits.

It’s also been an amazing year. Check out our multimedia timeline below for a look at what we’ve been up to since January, and stay tuned to our social media as it all comes together this summer. #STEMNOW

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IMG_3390At the Games For Change Student Challenge in December, students from all over New York City came to the Museum of the Moving Image to learn about creating a smarter city using computer programming. Using activities adapted from the Science of Smart Cities program, NYU Tandon School of Engineering students introduced the audience to technologies that can make a city more energy efficient, safe, and livable such as solar panels and radiation detection.  The NYU Tandon students then provided guidance and expertise to groups of participants to begin challenges like how to turn on a light bulb by giving instructions to a computer, both wired and wireless.

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In one group, Casandra, from PS126 Manhattan Academy of Technology, related programming to music. “This kind of stuff helps you think about other problems, just like music in a way…it teaches you to think about multiple things at once and how many things can connect to each other.” Recently having joined computer programming clubs, she wants to learn more.

Alyssa, from IS239 Mark Twain School described how much engineering and technology have influenced her. “Being able to create new tech and revolutionizing it really appeals to me. And also it’s really fun.” Most curious about environmental-related technology, Alyssa said inventing something that would affect everyday life appealed to her.

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After these group projects, everyone was surprised to be greeted by Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first Chief Technology Officer in the mayor’s office. Tantoco encouraged the students to continue studying and pursuing computer and technological sciences. “We need more techies… more people like you… it’s a cool job and fun as well… use your superpower for good.” Students engaged Ms. Tantoco in a conversation about technology careers and then returned to their groups to start task two.

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Some familiar faces demonstrate the success of NYU Engineering students K12 STEM education work. Ben, a middle school student who attended Science of Smart Cities on the NYU Engineering campus last summer, was happy to share with his group the programming skills he’s gained since then. Other students, like Alyssa, ended the Games for Change event looking forward to more tech learning, happy to be a part of this growing community.

 

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The NYU Tandon School of Engineering partners with NYC FIRST to run its FIRST Lego League (FLL) and First Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics competitions throughout the five boroughs. Teams have been attending workshops to brush up on skills or learn new strategies. 

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NYC FIRST and the School of Engineering provide schools and teachers opportunities to access FIRST robotics programs and train coaches. Thousands of students, their mentors, and teachers will compete in the 2015/2016 tournaments. In the 2015 FLL challenge, Trash Trek, teams (4th – 8th graders) will design a solution to a current trash-related problem and build and program LEGO robots to complete a series of missions while also gaining teamwork and leadership skills. Participation in FIRST programs gives students a hands-on way to learn engineering, physics, math and computer science concepts.

IMG_3361Since the robotics season recently begun, New York City teams have attended clinics at the Engineering School campus. FLL team members from 3rd to 8th grade worked diligently with their coaches to complete their robot while engineering students were on hand for trouble-shooting. The level of engagement and dedication was palpable. Sheryl Liels, a coach from Cambria Center For The Gifted Child in Queens, explained why the students on her school’s team were so drawn to FLL. They use EV3’s, a very popular programmable robot/software to complete missions, which is fun and challenging, but she also sees enormous growth in teamwork among the students.

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The positive effect of the FLL focus on teamwork was repeated by other coaches and team members. From Lab Middle School, Nora, the assistant coach noted, “There has been much improvement, especially in working together. I’m very proud of the team.” Faviel, on another middle-school team, “really likes the club because it’s a good break from school.” He also commented, “it’s hard to do all the missions with one robot but the team really works together.”

DSC_0041In addition to addressing teamwork and technical skills, FLL and other FIRST programs often serve as a way to increase inclusivity in STEM-related pursuits. The Robo Rebels – Divas for Social Justice are working to increase the proportion of girls in robotics and engineering.  Two members responded when asked what their team’s name meant to them; 5th grader, Kalola said, “I always see a lot of male coaches and I think that there should be more women because we can express just as much creativity.” Amia agreed and added, “yeah girls can do anything, it’s not for one gender.”

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The ability of these young students to spend a weekend day focusing their effort on engineering challenges was impressive. While taking the work seriously, they are definitely enjoying it!

 

 

 

 

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This short documentary, “This is What Young People Need” tells the story of NYCitySTEM, our partnership with the NYC Department of Education, which brought hands-on summer STEM education to 400 NYC public school students.

“This is What Young People Need” from Center for K12 STEM Education on Vimeo.

As part of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s commitment to train 500 teachers and our dedication to access to and opportunity for high-quality STEM education, the Center trained 31 DoE teachers in either Robotics or Science of Smart Cities curriculum developed by SoE students. Supported by the Fund for Public Schools and Microsoft Corporation, pairs of DoE teachers and SoE students co-taught NYC 7th and 10th graders over 20 days in all five boroughs.

NYCitySTEM allowed these public school students to spend four weeks of their summer in an inspiring and immersive STEM education program, ending with an exposition attended by parents, teachers, NYU faculty, and community members where students showcased and explained their innovative, problem-solving designs. Through hands-on activities, students learned science, math, and programming concepts while building solutions to smart city design or robot task challenges. The project-based, group work allowed them to experience the engineering process; trial and error, creativity, discovery, the ability to learn from mistakes, and the benefits of perseverance.

Students were surprised by their own newfound passion for and talents in STEM while parents and teachers are eager for more programs like NYCitySTEM. We are grateful for support, encouragement, and trust from Carmen Fariña, New York City Schools Chancellor. NYU SoE looks forward to an ongoing and expanding collaboration with NYC teachers to make it happen.

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  ARISE Research Progress

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The ARISE summer research program provides select New York City high-school students with the opportunity to conduct hands-on laboratory research. Under the guidance of their NYU graduate student mentors, thirty-seven ARISE participants [pictured above] spent seven weeks this summer contributing to the research goals of sixteen labs across the NYU School of Engineering in Downtown Brooklyn, and the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Washington Square. This week, we visited the ARISE students to learn more about their research experience.

Roy, a rising senior at Staten Island Technical High School, is working alongside Dhvanil and Shantanu in Professor Vikram Kapila’s Mechatronics Lab. Together, they are mapping the motion of a human arm, in order to build a robotic arm which will aid the rehabilitation of stroke patients with hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body). We asked Roy to describe his experience in the Mechatronics lab.

Roy-Finkelberg-2“I have been an engineer for precisely half my life. Engineering isn’t really new to me. However, it’s nice to be able to practically apply what I’ve learned in the classroom and through experience to the ARISE research program. Mechatronics is the intersection of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. I find it incredible that high school students can come into a lab and create something so practical and useful. The feeling of figuring something out and solving a problem is really indescribable. You have to experience it for yourself. We do have engineering classes at our high school. In a large high school environment, it’s hard for everyone to apply what they’ve learned. In small individualized groups like this one, we can build things like our AC sensor and robotic arm that really show what’s possible.”

During our visit to Professor Levicky’s Bio-Interfacial and Diagnostics Lab, ARISE student Michele-Iane described learning about life as a researcher as well as learning about the specific research in her lab. Michele-Iane and her partner Samantha Paucar are working with their mentor Ursula Koniges to investigate the ability of various chemicals to aid in detection of small DNA molecules. Potential applications include identification of food and water supply contaminants, personalized medical treatments, and to discovery of molecular mechanisms behind diseases such as cancer.

Michele-lane-DetoucheAt first, my mentor would hold our hand through experiments, but now she is letting go. Lab work is a lot of responsibility, but it is also building my confidence. I love working with the tools, like syringes and the pipettes. One computer program that we used is the Nanodrop. We take a sample of DNA and put it under a machine, and that machine will record the amount of light absorbed. Seeing the visual measurements on the computer screen is really cool. My main goal coming into the ARISE program was to get a feel of engineering. I actually learned a lot about how research lab life works here. The graduate students here work as a team. They call themselves lab siblings, and I love the whole comradery of the lab. It’s awesome to be a part of this experience. I’ll remember this as probably the most productive summer of my life so far. Before going into junior year, I feel pumped and excited because I’ve been learning all summer. I’m taking this extra data analysis class for my junior year coming up, and I’m doing actual data analysis right now. In the future, I will thank myself for doing this. I feel like I’m helping myself and ARISE is helping me”.

Vicente, a rising junior at Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, was one of the first NYU Science of Smart Cities students during the program’s pilot year in 2012, as a middle school student. Now, Vincente is back at NYU investigating the effects of pile penetration (driving columns of wood, metal, or concrete into the ground to support building construction) on surrounding soil with his mentor Sophia Mercurio in Professor Iskander’s Soil Mechanics lab.

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The first day I came in, I thought I was going to get a lecture about everything I was going to do this summer. Instead, I started out doing real lab work. I was surprised to find that I could actually do hands-on activities on my own, without my mentor constantly giving instructions. This is college work, and I was surprised that I could do it on my own. In my high school, the science and math classes involve presentations of what scientists are doing. When I come here to do research with Sophia, I get hands-on experience of what I see in the videos and presentations. I’ve always thought I was going to be a civil engineer. Going into the lab has actually fueled my passion for civil engineering.  My expectation of a scientist was someone who was always in the lab, 24/7. However, the scientists I work with in the lab are real people and not robots. They are fully committed to their work, but they also have time to take care of themselves. The ARISE experience prepared me for what I’m going to be doing. If I’m going to get into a STEM field, now I know what to expect.” 

The ARISE summer research experience is made possible by the generous support of The Pinkerton Foundation and The Driskill Foundation.

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On Friday, August 14th, the twelve high school STEM teachers who participated in the SMARTER Research Experiences for Teachers program this summer in several NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Mechatronics and Robotics labs, presented their projects to lab members and professors. The teams of teachers, all used to speaking in front of a room full of people, were naturally effective presenters and full of energy and enthusiasm about their work. Two SMARTER projects focused on human arm motion, while others included testing the strength of materials used in building foundations, and augmented reality.

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Marc Frank and Ramona Fittipaldi worked in Professor Joo Kim’s Applied Dynamics and Optimization Lab (ADOL) which studies human and robotic locomotion, balance, energetics, and stability. The teachers performed energy efficiency tests on the shoulder and elbow power of a robotic arm.  By changing speeds while the arm was moving they checked the stability and accuracy of the movements. The data set built through their collection and analysis will be used by ADOL for further experiments and tests.

20150707_RET_008Rather than an isolated learning exercise, this is an ongoing project to which the teachers’ work will be applied. “I was proud that it wasn’t something just for me.”, said Mr. Frank. While contributing to the ongoing work in ADOL, the teachers also expanded their own knowledge; Frank, a science teacher learned more about math and Ramona, a math teacher, learned more about science. They’ll use their lab experience to develop lessons for their high school students on Hooke’s law (a principle of physics that states that the force needed to extend or compress a spring by some distance is proportional to that distance), use and analysis of graphs and scatter plots, and use of a spreadsheet-based data management and analysis software such as Excel.

Daniella DiLacqua, a biology teacher, and Hau-Yu Chu, a technology teacher worked on a cost-effective ‪‎mechatronics‬-based system to quantify stroke recovery & ‪‎rehabilitation‬. In Professor Vikram Kapila’s Mechatronics Lab, they joined undergraduates, graduate students, and high school students on the project, “Upper Extremity Biometric System for Stroke Rehabilitation”.

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Most methods to track stroke rehabilitation progress are low cost but rely on observations made by physical therapists or physicians (qualitative), not measurements (quantitative). Usually, quantitative methods are more expensive. To address this, they helped to develop a cost-efficient, compact, portable device, that could measure more than one arm or hand function at a time, and that patients could use from home. Their prototype uses an accelerometer (like those in a smart phone), flex sensors, and an arduino controller attached at different points on a patient’s arm and hand. In the future, as costs decrease, these could be swapped for smaller components and more sensors could be added. These teachers plan to develop lessons for their students about concepts such as homeostasis and negative feedback, based on how they were applied to the prototype design.

Read more about the SMARTER participants’ thoughts on their work on the project’s blog. The SMARTER RET is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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