Learning by doing: Poly profs nurture and encourage young innovators

Last week, the Urban Assembly Institute of Math & Science for Young Women held its Spring Portfolio Roundtables, in which sixth grade students presented their work and explained what they learned in the past semester.

This was the second series of Roundtables for the Institute, which encourages and empowers female students to study and pursue careers in mathematics, science and technology. Noel Kriftcher, industry professor of humanities and executive director of the David Packard Center for Technology and Educational Alliances, assisted in expanding the Institute’s curriculum.

The students were required to present portfolios in each of four areas: math, science, humanities and language-ancient civilizations. Each portfolio was presented to a panel consisting of classmates, the teacher, and one or two others. Presentations followed a protocol consisting of an introduction, an explanation, questions from the panel, warm and cool feedback, and evaluations.

“The portfolio roundtables afford students opportunities to articulate their learning,” said Principal Kelly DeMonaco. “It is a better experience than that of a standardized test.”

At Kriftcher’s invitation, faculty members Crystal Chavis, Lorcan Folan, David J. Goodman, Nancy H. Kwak, Chris Leslie, Charles Martucci, Joel Rogers and Richard Wener participated in various panels throughout the week.

Poly plans to build stronger ties with the Institute, which is completing its initial year. Housed in a former preschool in Prospect Heights, the Institute’s enrollment of 73 students will expand to 95 in September. It will move to a new space, the former Brooklyn Family Court building, in September 2008.