Author Archives: Marijke

IMG_2109Connecting K-12 STEM educators to hands-on science and engineering is part of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s commitment to increasing the quality of STEM education. Part of these efforts include two National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Teachers programs that provide middle school and high school teachers with research opportunities in NYU engineering labs.

Divided into two tracks, teachers are either accepted to work in the Cyber Security or the Science and Mechatronics Aided Research for Teachers with an Entrepreneurship expeRience (SMARTER) program. Centered around the Information Systems and Internet Security lab in the Computer Science and Engineering department, teachers in the Cyber Security program learn how computer science, forensics, law, and computer programming are leveraged to create more robust digital networks.  Based within the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department, SMARTER participants conduct mechatronics and robotics research while gaining entrepreneurship experience.


Prior to lab work, all teachers receive two weeks of immersive training related to their research program.  They are taught not only the relevant STEM content, but also how to think like an engineer. Marc Frank, in the SMARTER program, noticed that he was encouraged to make mistakes and learn from them, and looks forward to bringing this problem-solving mindset to his classroom.

In addition to learning about new technologies to use in K-12 schools, teachers such as Horace Walcott, also in SMARTER, see RET as an opportunity to develop mentoring skills to help students conducting advanced research in preparation for college. As a Regents Chemistry teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School, he mentors students during a 3-year Weston Research Fellowship.  His ongoing relationship with NYU labs helps connect his students to higher education opportunities and the scientific community at large. “We’re establishing long term relationships and connections with NYU and part of that long term relationship is getting our students to come here and conduct research on a multi-year level.”

20150714_RET_012Russ Holstein, a middle-school computer teacher at IS318 also sees value to linking his students to the NYU academic community. In addition to applying techniques he’s learned in Professor Nasir Memon’s Cyber Security Lab to start a school forensics club, he sees his investment with NYU as having a lasting impact on his students. Through his awareness of STEM programs available at the Engineering School, he “…was able to plug my kids in. Not only does this open doors for them, but they are looking for high schools that offer the same kind of opportunities in STEM.”

Ramona Fittipaldi of The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, also in the SMARTER program, anticipates using her experience building and programming basic circuits in PBasic to start a robotics club. In addition, she plans to encourage more of her female students to enter STEM fields by designing curriculum with an  “…entire engineering component where they can do all these hands on activities like we’re doing to really excite them about STEM and excite them about engineering for their futures.”



Watch the video to see excerpts from New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and National Science Foundation’s Susan Singer.

In celebration of the Center’s largest Summer STEM programming to date, last Thursday July 9, NYU SoE Dean Katepelli Sreenivasan welcomed students, teachers, collaborators, and sponsors to the 2015 Summer of STEM Kick-Off Luncheon. Acknowledging NYU’s institution-wide support for STEM Education, including contributions from faculty, postdocs, and graduate students and a commitment to President Obama to train 500 school teachers in STEM over the next 10 years, he said “It is in the genes of the institution. We regard STEM [education] as an institutional goal, that is something that is very important for us.” IMG_2023

New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña noted that quality STEM education is necessary to make New York City “the place where people come to see what’s innovative, what’s exciting, and most important, what is it that’s getting our kids to succeed, graduate college, and be workforce ready.” Richard Langford, Senior Education Specialist from Microsoft, one of the primary sponsors of SoE’s work in NYC Schools this summer, would like to duplicate the program across the country, noting the importance of training future employees for technology companies like Microsoft. Mike Ruiz, from National Grid echoed these sentiments.IMG_2065

After touring campus classrooms and labs where K12 students and teachers are learning robotics, mechatronics, cyber security, and the science of smart cities, the National Science Foundation’s Director of the Division of Undergraduate Education, Dr. Susan Singer noted the rarity of K12 students and teachers, undergraduate, graduate students, and university faculty combining efforts in what she called an “ecosystems approach” to STEM education.IMG_1991

The biggest challenge facing STEM fields, industry, and the economy, according to Dr. Singer, is making innovative educational opportunities available to diverse students so that we may, “… [think] differently together about the grand challenges that we’re facing.” She commended the partnerships and entrepreneurial spirit that has enabled NYU SoE and its Center for K12 STEM Education to disseminate its methods widely.