Category Archives: ARISE


Recently, the young participants in the ARISE program arrived for orientation, an opening meant to prepare them for the work they’ll be performing for the next seven weeks. All of the various lab groups which will be participating in the program were treated to fun events that encouraged them to get to know one another and foster their problem solving abilities. Students were also instructed in important protocols required during experiments, such as the proper use of equipment and the storage of materials.  Safety was emphasized as the most important aspect of experimentation, and no amount of fun undercut the advice vital to the future conduct of the students.

As the day went on, each group split up, depending on the particular lab courses they were taking. All of the groups, however, received the same lessons on various topics such as academic writing and the Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry (DSI), instructed Dr. Brendan Matz and Dr. Leah Aronowsky. Dr. Matz co-created DSI with Ben Esner, K12 STEM Director, as a 25 hour course blending science, ethics, writing and history into one course for high school students. The course is intended to expand kids’ views of science, infusing it with more social and ethical themes in addition to history in order to give them greater societal context when it comes to their writing and understanding of STEM.


“Essays take time and effort,” Matz said to his students. “College professors, when reviewing your application, want evidence of your achievements that isn’t reflected elsewhere in your portfolio.” Matz was determined to explain the full versatility and applicability of academic writing skills, breaking down the process of writing essays into basic steps to reveal the surprising simplicity of the seemingly complex practice. Further resources for studying and practice were given online, ensuring that the students who attend STEM this summer will have the tools they need for the program and the future search for colleges.

Dr. Matz worked with Dr. Aronowsky (albeit in separate groups) to teach their students how best to operate in the world of professional science in a manner that also respected the social world. Dr. Aronowsky also taught them of how, over the course of recorded history, science came to resemble what we know today, engaging in conversations with them to gauge their comprehension of the subject.  She laid out the basics of the scientific method for those students who were unfamiliar, and described to them the differences between true science from pseudoscience.

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With these topics in mind, the students were well-equipped to begin their studies, meeting with graduates of the school and professors to discuss specific experiments that pertained to their lab focuses. They learned about the application of engineering to other fields of scientific research, and how they could use this ability to apply one subject to another for the benefit of the whole. In this manner, they became aware of how to maintain both moral standing and scientific accuracy, keeping the precarious relationship between ethical norms and objective reasoning perfectly balanced.


Leaving each of these classes, it seemed that the young members of the ARISE program left with greater understanding of how the effects of scientific discourse permeate every aspect of their lives, from both the standpoint of larger populations as well as that of the individual. This knowledge is one of the most crucial factors in the way we conduct ourselves in the field of research; it is only with an understanding and respect for the intricacies of the sciences and the way they influence the world around us that we’re able to responsibly pursue knowledge and disseminate it. With the ability to now operate both efficiently and ethically, they have the freedom to research and experiment on the subjects which they find interesting, prepared to take the steps needed to ensure their safety, the accuracy of the tests they conduct, and the fulfillment of their own ambitions on the scientific stage.

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Written by Henry McClure and Nicolas Parada



June 11th marked the first day of preparation before the Center’s summer programs begins at NYU Tandon. During the last two weeks our instructional teams, made up of current (or recent) undergraduate and graduate NYU students in engineering and computer science majors, are meeting to plan their courses and activities for the summer. The programs’ goal is to introduce high quality STEM education to middle and high students and teachers from all around New York City’s boroughs, who may not have the opportunities otherwise.

Preparation for the summer has differed from group to group, depending on their course objectives. In Science of Smart Cities (SoSC), instructors, co-lead by graduate Integrated Digital Media student Jason Charles, worked together to create a water syphoning activity using straws and cups to illustrate methods of water conservation. The day after, the instructors focused on another civil engineering based activity, in which structures made of sticks of balsa wood were evaluated and judged based on their ability to withstand force. 

ieSoSC, an offshoot of SoSC, has also been working on applying engineering and technology to urban life and cities. Lead by PhD students Ana Elisa Mendez and Yu Wang, their team’s notable activities include a device which measures the purity of water using sensors and circuits, as well as a trash can that uses a Seeeduino circuit board and Wifi to alert users when it is full and in need of replacement. These activities for students are designed to demonstrate practical examples of smart city technologies that use microcontrollers, sensing, and cloud computing for every day applications.


Another program coming to life is Creativity in Engineering, Science, and Technology (CrEST), where the focus so far has been on making Arduino circuit boards fun and easy to understand for kids. During the academic year, CrEST is taught to high school students who then intern at Tandon, under the supervision of our own students, and go on to teach one week workshops to middle school students.

If connected correctly, the boards will reward the builder by vibrating, lighting up, or even playing music. The creativity from these completed circuits has endless potential and is focused on getting kids involved in a tactile, immersive way. Karen Beltran, a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student and the lead instructor for CrEST, says “Working with circuits is especially fun, because they’re very hands on and the kids are immediately surprised at how easy and accessible they are. Also opening this opportunity to them while they’re young gives them the early confidence and ability to open their future potential when it comes to wiring and robotics in general; It’s very important but very fun as well”

The robot Karen holds above is a vibrating battery, connected to an on/off switch. Once the circuits are arranged correctly, the device vibrated the cup with markers attached, which then drew colored paths on paper as the device ran.

Outside of building and experimenting with curriculum, all our student instructors also spent a day working together to ensure their classrooms are as inclusive and learning-friendly as possible. In a session designed and led by Dr. Sheila Borges and Katherine Salamone, the Center’s Assistant Director and Projects Manager respectively, instructors completed activities together as well as ran through various trainings and culturally relevant pedagogy. In these, instructors created their own class rules, solved hypothetical situations through dialogue, learned essential protocols, and took bias training to ensure classrooms were as inclusive and participatory as possible. Here, instructors came away with a greater sense of community with one another and took the next major step towards leading the summer programs.

In the next week, this prep will be expanded with the help of folks from the Irondale theatre in Brooklyn.  During these sessions, the groups will participate in improvisation training to inspire the instructors and provide them with helpful presentation and public speaking skills for teaching.


Summer 2018 is gearing up to be the most significant season in the Center’s history, with goals aimed towards expansion, inclusion, and providing the best possible STEM education for NYC’s young people.

For more updates on the programs, activities, and people, follow the center on Twitter and Facebook!

Written by Nicolas Parada, Media Specialist NYU K12 STEM Center



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.


  ARISE Research Progress


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.


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.



The ‘A’ in STEAM is for arts. For the past two years, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s Center for K12 STEM Education has partnered with the Irondale Ensemble Project for its Science of Smart Cities middle school engineering design and ARISE high school summer research programs. To help these students become confident presenters of scientific information, Irondale employs theatrics such as role play, improvisation and group challenges. Their practice pays off at the SoSC Expo and the ARISE Colloquium when the students explain their work to their teachers, families, reporters, and NYU students and professors. Some SoSC and ARISE students shared their thoughts on the impact of Irondale workshops:


“In Irondale, you get the confidence you need to talk in front of many people. I actually used to be very nervous in front of people. In Irondale, we have challenges that make us stronger, and we practice to have a lot of confidence when the big day comes. The skills I have learned are confidence and stamina. I will use these skills in the future when I have a job and if I have to represent something that’s part of my career. After Irondale, I will have lot of confidence about what I’m going to explain.”  -Alan, SoSC

20150729_SoSC_Irondale_050“We learn how to speak, how to project our voice, and how to be more energetic. Later in life you can’t be shy. This Friday, we will use these skills when we are presenting. After Friday, we’ll use these skills… if we have a presentation in school so everyone would be able to hear and we might get a better grade. I wasn’t this bold before Irondale started. My voice was quiet. What I’m going to remember most are the skills and tips they taught us about presenting in general… don’t fiddle with your hair, don’t swing your arms back and forth, and remember to look around at the audience.” – Cameron, SoSC

“In Irondale, we learn how to express ourselves…get out of our comfort zone, and we learn that it’s not so bad to talk in front of crowds. Another skill we learn in Irondale is speech…when you touch and twist your clothing, bite your nails or put your hands in your pocket, you hide yourself, it seems like you’re unsure of yourself. You want to convince other people that you know what you’re talking about. Is it really difficult, to go up on stage and talk to a crowd? For me, it’s like being in a novel; you are the character, and you must present well to an audience of readers.” -Chelsea, SoSC

20150803_ARISE_Irondale006“Irondale…creates this fun atmosphere where no one’s judging each other and we’re all just having a good time while still learning. In any field, communicating one’s ideas and thoughts is vital, so Irondale not only helps us learn how to present thoughts in our colloquium, but also going forward in any situation where we need to convey our thoughts and ideas, we’ll have this skill to let people know what we’re thinking.” – Pranav, ARISE

“I think Irondale helps you project who you really are to an audience or to even to an individual. We have the colloquium on the 21st, so I think Irondale is going to be huge help for that… and in any future profession I want to get into, I feel like I have better communication skills now, I am more free to be myself…Irondale made me remember that everyone’s human and no one’s perfect. You see everyone mess up, and everyone’s being so silly, and it really makes me happy that everyone can connect by being imperfect.” – Pedro, ARISE

20150729_SoSC_Irondale_044“When you get questions thrown at you, you have to be quick on your feet. I think these skills are important in life not just ARISE, because there are going to be times where you have to present yourself a certain way, you have to look distinguished, you have to not be nervous. So being brave, being ready at a young age makes it easier in the future. When you’re looking for a job, when you’re interning…it makes that whole process easier because you’re not shy, you’re not nervous of the moment, and it makes opportunities come to you a lot easier too, because people like people that are ready, that are chivalrous, that are excited to learn.” – Ayinde, ARISE

“The skills we learn are how to be comfortable on stage, to not get nervous, to have a thorough and thought-up plan of what you’re going to say. Even if a question surprises you, you could still answer it comfortably, and use that question as a stepping stone to continue your presentation. These skills are important for everything…for presentations, for interviews as well, you feel more comfortable and you present better. Five to ten years from now, I’ll remember how Irondale Theater helped me become a better person at presenting.” – Jakub, ARISE

Thank you, Irondale, for another successful year of partnership and for providing young people with communication skills they’ll use for years to come.



The Center is now accepting applications for the summer 2015 cohort of high school students completing their junior and sophomore years to participate in ARISE, which provides STEM lab research experience and mentoring in NYU engineering and science labs. We encourage you to browse the participating lab descriptions and get an application in early! The New York University School of Engineering is partnering again with NYC FIRST to run its FIRST Lego League (FLL) and First Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics competitions throughout the five boroughs and the 2014-2015 season calendar is already packed. Here are updates and details on ARISE and FIRST programming. Continue reading


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Even after the ARISE summer research program for high school students is officially over, some participants continue their research into the school year in NYU School of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences labs. These efforts can turn into significant accomplishments and contributions to scientific and engineering fields. Here, several inspiring examples of work conducted by ARISE students that have truly become part of the STEM research community. Continue reading


Now in its second year, the ARISE program, funded by the Pinkerton Foundation, is in full swing and in the 5th of its 7-week schedule.  The 35 participating New York City high school students have been conducting research in 14 labs across the NYU School of Engineering in Brooklyn and the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Washington Square. Graduate student mentors have been guiding them during their research, which is designed to contribute to the lab’s overall research goals.

We visited with the students and asked them how their research experience had changed their perceptions about life in a lab, plans for college, and their interest in STEM pursuits.

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Tanzila is an alumna from the inaugural Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) cohort in summer 2013. She joined Professor Rastislav Levicky‘s Bio-interfacial Engineering and Diagnostics lab where PhD candidate Ursula Koniges was her mentor. As a high school student, she contemplated chemical engineering studies in college. After a successful summer with ARISE, she kept in touch with Ursula and developed greater interest in engineering and research. This Fall, she will join NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering‘s Class of 2018. We asked Tanzila to tell her story. Continue reading



Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) begins with students participating in two workshops. Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry explores scientific research, history, methods and ethics. Basic Robotics to Inspire Scientific Knowledge is a series of interactive exercises that test mathematical and engineering concepts.  Here, comments from students about the experience over the first three days.

DSC_5490Maria: “In Basic Robotics to Inspire Scientific Knowledge (BRISK), we’re learning to build and program robots using LEGO Mindstorm kits. Yesterday, we completed building dual-motor bots, a step forward from the single-motor brick from the previous day’s build in that the second motor allows turning.

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