Author Archives: NYUk12 stem

Last week marked the official beginning of #SUMMEROFSTEM. Nearly 300 students and 50 educators arrived at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, participating in over half a dozen programs committed providing opportunities to middle school and high school students to gain intensive and hands on experience in science, technology, engineering and math. Beginning today, students will also be venturing to labs across NYU, conducting research alongside faculty members and graduate students. 

This year, we’re proud to announce 59% of our applicant pool were girls whereas the other 41% were boys. The high school program ARISE boasts the highest girl demographic among all our programs behind CS4CS, formerly known as GenCy, our all girls’ program. This summer, instructors, Leah Aranowsky and Brendan Matz lead the effort for ARISE before they head into participating NYU faculty labs, including the Soil Mechanics, Center for Music and Audio Research, Composite Materials and Mechanics, Mechatronics, Applied Dynamics and Optimization, Dynamical Systems, Biomolecular Engineering, Bio-Interfacial Engineering and Diagnostics, Developmental Genomics, Systems and Proteomics and Molecular Anthropology Labs.



Returning this year as well, CrEST, Creativity in Engineering, Science and Technology, targets middle school students plan to introduce concepts ranging from wireless cars to vibrating bugs, circuits, and introduction to wireless internet.


This summer also marks the launch of ieSoSC, an offshoot of SoSC, Science of Smart Cities. Students who have previously participated in the SoSC, Science of Smart Cities are given the opportunity to return and continue the practice of building sustainable urban infrastructure through the lens of innovation and entrepreneurship. 



Finally, in addition to our student programs, educators committed to implementing concepts and topics in STEM are welcomed on campus this summer. NYU Tandon’s Professor Vikram Kapila continues to lead the direction of RET, DRK12 as well as iTEST which was designed and developed to allow educators and students to grapple with themes in science and technology in a collaborative environment with their students from their respective schools.


Follow us for a #SUMMEROFSTEM and special thanks to our supporters– The National Science Foundation, Siegel Family Foundation, The Sloan Foundation, BHS/STEAM Center Schools, National Grid, ConEdison Northrop Grumman, Pinkerton Foundation, DTCC and ExpandED Options.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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. 


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.


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.”



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!






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.



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.


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”.


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.




This summer, the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s  Center for K12 STEM education was able to expand two ongoing programs into public schools across New York City under NYCitySTEM: Robotics and Science of Smart Cities (SoSC). These programs, developed and taught at the Engineering school by undergraduate and graduate students, use engineering principles and problem-solving hands-on activities to teach STEM concepts. By partnering with the NYC Department of Education and with support from Microsoft and the Fund for Public Schools, NYCitySTEM was launched in all five boroughs.


The forty-three NYU students hired as instructors trained NYC teachers in the curriculum which they then co-taught in schools. Hundreds of 7th and 10th graders spent 5 weeks designing, building, and testing robots that could complete tasks or models of smart cities while learning math, science, technology, and engineering concepts. Participants learned how to use microcontrollers, breadboards, resistors, sensors, construction materials, gravel, and soil to meet engineering challenges.


On August 6th, each school held an Expo where participants demonstrated their creations and and explained the science behind their designs.  Smart City models included solar and wind-powered energy, water filtration systems, waste disposal and recycling systems, smart traffic systems, and buildings capable of surviving natural disasters.  Autonomous robots equipped with color sensors were able to follow paths or locate objects.


SoSC classroom activities and curriculum, created at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, including instructions and materials needed can be found here.  Robotics classroom activities and curriculum, created at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, including instructions and materials needed can be found here and here.

Participants were able to spend their summer thinking about ways to improve the lives of their families and neighbors using creativity and STEM concepts while gaining a new appreciation for the science and math they learn during the school year.  Thank you Microsoft and The Fund for Public Schools for supporting this partnership to provide access and opportunity for hands-on STEM‬ learning to NYC K-12 students.



Last Friday, the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Science of Smart Cities program culminated with its fourth annual Expo, a demonstration of model smart cities designed and built by the forty-seven middle school participants. Proud family members and teachers were able to view the models while the students explained how their cities incorporate the engineering lessons they had learned in the classroom.

DSC_5375During the previous four weeks, NYU engineering students taught the participants science, technology, engineering, and math content through hands-on curriculum. Designed at NYU SoE, the curriculum focuses on Energy, Urban Infrastructure, Wireless Communications, and Transportation. The participants incorporated what they had learned about engineering aspects of sustainable and resilient cities when designing their own smart city and then taught this back to the Expo attendees.

DSC_5396Speaking in front of a group and answering unexpected questions both take skill, as does explaining complex STEM concepts using plain language. To help the students prepare for the Expo, they received ten hours of training in public speaking, improvisation, and communication skills by members of a theater group, The Irondale Ensemble Project.





The Science of Smart Cities 2015 program was supported through generous funding from National Grid.


At NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering this summer, mechanical engineering graduate students, Matt and Anthony, along with NYU Steinhardt graduate student, Colin, are working with four middle-school math and science teachers as part of the National Science Foundation‘s Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) program. DRK-12 teams across the country conduct research on and develop innovative approaches to the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in PreK-12. The NYU SoE DR K-12 project focuses on lowering barriers in STEM disciplines for students through teacher professional development with robotics as the curriculum focus.


Matt and Anthony, who were both embedded in NYC middle school STEM classrooms over the past year, as part of the AMPS/CBSI program, are continuing to work with Professor Vikram Kapila in DRK-12 by presenting lessons they’ve designed that employ robotics as a way to teach math and science concepts. Using the framework of Design-based Research, the teachers are providing feedback to fine-tune the lesson. This process is repeated to co-create project-based STEM learning that successfully incorporates technology.





While the engineering students are serving as technical experts, Colin and his advisor, Professor Catherine Milne of Steinhardt are the pedagogical experts. Since everyone in the room must run through the same robotics lessons that are intended for K-12 students, the teachers, graduate students, and professors are experiencing, first-hand, any glitches or unclear instructions, which are re-worked through Design-Based Research.



The four K-12 teachers are providing expert opinions on how the material might be seen if presented to different grades and any practical limitations or stumbling blocks to implementing the lessons. The lessons can be improved greatly during the summer, with the help of the teachers, before being tried again in classrooms. In addition, through this process, the teachers are gaining not only content and pedagogical knowledge, but also technical knowledge that will allow them to use technology in their classrooms effectively.


Before heading to NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences labs to conduct research alongside graduate students, postdocs and professors, the thirty seven 2015 Applied Research in Science and Engineering (ARISE) high school students round out their scientific knowledge with theoretical and practical training in the courses Basic Robotics to Inspire Scientific Knowledge (BRISK) and Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry (DSI). DSI, taught by Dr. Brendan Matz, professor of science and technology studies at NYU SoE and the Gallatin School, provides an overview of scientific methods and practices within a social, cultural, political, and economic context, ethical considerations, and science writing. BRISK, taught by Shishir Malav, who received his Masters from NYU SoE in Computer Engineering, teaches students about data collection, data analysis and the scientific method through hands-on robotics exercises using LEGO Mindstorm kits.

Dehaan Rahman01Deehan, an ARISE student entering his senior year of high school, who will be working in Professor Masoud Ghandehari’s Optical Sensing Lab was particularly interested in the history of science’s societal impact discussed in DSI, “We look through many controversial topics such as the Challenger Project by NASA…and we understand how it affects society while at the same time we discuss ways to solve the issues that arise from these controversies. I think the subject matter we discuss in this class is important for scientists and engineers because it alters the way they should conduct their work…(it) allowed me to understand how ethics plays a major role in science as it struggles to take into consideration everyone involved in its projects. It allowed me to understand how much thought must be put into science projects due to the social implications that they can come with. ”

Dolly Davashryee

Rising senior Dolly, who will be working on a project under the supervision of Professor Shivendra Panwar in the Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications noted that DSI, “gives you a summary of certain conditions and practices that universally exist within the scientific community. This class teaches you many things that you need to know in order to succeed as a researcher such as how and why it’s important to get funding, the importance of conveying your ideas and the importance of being honest with your findings when experimenting.”


BRISK gave ARISE student Samantha, who will be conducting research in Professor Rastislav Levicky’s Bio-Interfacial Engineering and Diagnostics Lab, a hands-on opportunity to program a robot to carry out simple commands, “I find my Robotics class so very valuable because it allows me to fully immerse myself in the application of math and science. While I have taken computer science classes in the past I don’t have any experience with programming robots. After my first Robotics class, it instantly occurred to me that programming can be completely understandable and frankly, completely exciting.


Sonia, who will be working in Professor Chris Rushlow’s Developmental Genomics Lab says that robotics, “…creates an environment that inspires ingenuity and imagination.” Although Sonia’s primary interest is in Life Sciences, she clearly maximized the potential of her time in BRISK, “On a whim, my partner and I decided to build a robot that would roam around until its touch sensors hit a wall, at which point it would play a short tune (of our own composition) and then continue on its way.  Building the robots also lent an opportunity to perform simple physics experiments: by using the computer software corresponding with our robot, we were able to use the robot’s color sensors to switch a timer on and off.  This allowed us to measure the time it took an object to fall and calculate its acceleration. We also built a catapult to launch the object back into the air—who can resist a catapult?”

Following the two weeks studying BRISK and DSI, ARISE students will disperse to begin work in 16 different labs across NYU. While time in the lab allows them to gain hands-on knowledge and experience, BRISK and DSI provide the students with information and background to understand their research within the broader scope of the STEM community, to see how various STEM fields intersect, and to think critically about their time in the lab.

The ARISE program is generously funded by The Pinkerton Foundation and the The Driskill Foundation.



The first of three sessions of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s GenCyber Computer Science for Cyber Security (CS4CS) Summer Program for High School Women has brought twenty-one young women from the New York metropolitan area to campus for an introduction to the fundamentals of cyber security and computer science. Each two-week session offers hands-on training and an immersive introduction to the interdisciplinary field of cyber security.



Both faculty and undergraduate students from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering design and teach the curriculum, which uses hands-on exercises and team projects. Since no experience was necessary, students entered with a wide range of knowledge about programming and computer science.


The first week of GenCyber CS4CS was visited by representatives from a funder, the National Security Agency, who were impressed with participants, instructors, and the curriculum. In particular, they witnessed how the range of experience levels was used as a strength when more experienced students helped less experienced students with exercises and were given additional challenges. 

The goals of GenCyber CS4CS are to provide high school women abilities, confidence, and options to consider computer science and cyber security careers and to form a support network among them. Although the program lasts only two weeks, participants are encouraged to expand their knowledge and serve as computer science and cyber security ambassadors by recruiting a team of high school classmates to compete in the nation-wide Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) annual High School Forensics Challenge.


The week ended with a visit to NYC’s Google Headquarters for a tour and to meet women working in the computer science industry.  The opportunity to see in person, concrete examples of women in a supportive workplace and the teamwork necessary for innovative problem-solving made a big impression on GenCyber participants. Thank you Google for your hospitality!

The free GenCyber CS4CS program is supported by the National Science Foundation the National Security Agency, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and is led by Professor Nasir Memon, head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Information Systems and Internet Security Lab.

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