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.”



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.



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.




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.



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.


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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Teacher Training

This summer, the NYU School of Engineering and the NYC Department of Education are partnering in NYCitySTEM. The initiative pairs NYU School of Engineering students with DoE teachers to provide free cutting-edge STEM programs to 7th and 10th graders across New York City. In preparation for the first week of classes, forty-three undergraduate and graduate students spent the greater part of last week training DoE teachers at the NYU School of Engineering. Teachers learned how to wire breadboards, program sensors, and build line-following, collision avoidance robots. For some teachers, this was their debut experience with STEM education. On Monday, a few teachers appeared apprehensive about their ability to bring STEM into the classroom. However, as the week progressed many teachers reported finding the hands-on activities engaging and accessible. Overall, the training was an edifying experience for the teachers and their instructors. Chris Rogers, a U.S. History teacher from IS 24 in Staten Island, discussed how he would like to bring what he learned into the classroom by having his students experiment with iambic paddles to gain a better understanding of how Morse code shaped history.

DoE teachers were pleased to work with their energetic NYU School of Engineering student instructors. According to Dwight Young, a general science teacher teacher at I.S. 285 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, his instructors were “very patient, very knowledgeable, and very understanding.” Teachers reported that the training was a refreshingly thoughtful and immersive professional development experience. In particular, one teacher remarked that she “got a chance to build models, to build receptors using sensors, and to do what the children are going to do before actually working with them.”


NYU School of Engineering student instructors reported positively on working with their Department of Education teachers. Instructors reported that the teachers were very engaged, energetic, and excited to become familiar with the STEM curricula. The NYU instructors embraced the challenge of working with the DoE teachers who had no prior experience with STEM subjects. Instructors discovered they had a lot to learn from their DoE teachers. During her training, Science of Smart Cities Instructor Salma Pasha learned how to apply Icebreakers and team building activities to motivate younger students. Another NYU student said that her DoE co-teacher showed her how to give constructive criticism that teenagers would understand.IMG_0584

Although a few NYU engineering students are nervous about their first time teaching, they are also game for the challenge. As Gev Manekshaw, Instructor for the 10th grade Science of Smart Cities class in Brooklyn remarked, “I think a classroom is the most dynamic environment I will ever face.”


This summer’s K12 STEM education undertaking is bigger than ever–the NYU School of Engineering has mobilized an unprecedented 127 STEM experts to the cause, including: 21 professors, 20 PhD Candidates, 34 graduate students, and 35 undergraduate students.

The Center for K12 STEM Education is proud to partner with the NYC Department of Education, Microsoft, and the Fund for Public Schools to launch a new program, NYCitySTEM, the largest school district-based summer 2015 STEM initiative in the U.S. Forty-three NYU-student instructors will work closely with NYC teachers to bring high quality STEM education to nearly 800 middle and high school students across the five boroughs.

During the past few weeks, a core group of 11 NYU School of Engineering graduate students who developed curriculum have been training instructors before they head into the classroom.  Watch our students prepare 12,000 components — from microcontrollers, breadboards and resistors to sensors, construction material and soil — in advance of the program’s launch on July 6.

Meet the Parts from Center for K12 STEM Education on Vimeo.


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


PowerPoint Presentation

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