Science of Smart Cities 2015


Forty-seven NYC middle school students have spent the past two and a half weeks of their summer at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s campus in the Science of Smart Cities (SoSC) program. SoSC introduces students to concepts in science, technology and engineering with a focus on urban planning and sustainability. The curriculum includes hands-on activities surrounding energy, urban infrastructure, transportation systems and wireless communications.

In its fourth year, the curriculum, which has been developed by NYU SoE students, makes abstract science and math concepts more concrete by explaining how they apply to students’ every-day surroundings. The students design their own Smart City for an Expo at the end of the program, along with weekly group problem-solving and engineering projects. The creativity allowed by the program makes an impression on students and has a positive impact on their relationship to STEM subjects. Three interns this year, Aarti, Jaela, and Zipporah, were so drawn by the program as participants last year, they have returned to volunteer.

“I really liked how we could design our own city using what we learned. Although the instructors gave their own input, it was mostly us, so we got to learn while creating. It really gave me a different perspective on science. I used to think of it as something only used by doctors and such, but now I understand how it plays a role in our everyday lives.”  -Aarti

“I liked that we were able to do a lot of different activities, go on trips, and learn a lot about a lot of different things. The year before I came to Science of Smart Cities, I was not that great at math and science. It was just a whole bunch of numbers. Then, I learned a lot more about science…it all makes sense now. I wanted to come back because it was really fun last year, and I want to help the kids have more fun this year.”  -Zipporah

“I liked that it [SoSC] gave kids the opportunities to explore new things. My experience the first year was really fun. I got to meet a lot of new people, try a lot of new things, and I came back this year to teach kids the same thing. SoSC showed me how to have a hard drive, how to work hard towards goals. It also showed me that there’s a real output to the things we learn.”  -Jaela


Vicente, from the Science of Smart Cities pilot year in 2012, and Ayinde, who participated in an after-school version of SoSC through Harlem Educational Activities Fund, have entered the 2015 class of NYU SoE’s high school summer research program, ARISE where they will conduct research in Professor Iskander’s Soil Mechanics Lab. SoSC shaped their views on STEM education and their decision to pursue civil and urban engineering

“SoSC introduced me to the field of STEM, so I was more conscientious about what’s going on in the world regarding STEM… it allowed me to further my STEM education and know more about it.”  -Vicente

“SoSC has helped my future in a lot of ways. It has also shaped the way I look at the planet as a whole. Before I took the course, I was just nonchalant. The course really helped me because we worked with soil mechanics, circuit boards, circuity, all connected into one, so you get a feel or a view into all different paths of science.”  -Ayinde

Science of Smart Cities piloted as a summer program at NYU in the summer of 2012. Since then, the program has been replicated off-campus as an after school program through the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, in Malaysia as Bitara STEM, and now in NYC public schools as part of the NYC Summer STEM program. SoSC is made possible with support from National Grid.