National Science Foundation recognizes undergraduate student’s community outreach

Science foundation

Nurturing future chemists and engineers involves both the promotion of STEM in schools as well as academic support for students pursuing their path towards higher education — support that Peter Ferrarotto ’18 hopes to provide to chemistry students at Brooklyn Technical High School. Ferrarotto was recently awarded a Teaching Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support his work with NYU Tandon’s Science Outreach and Research (SOAR) program, which aims to inspire and support K-12 students and their academic achievements in STEM. Implemented by Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Jin Montclare, the SOAR program — also supported through NSF — partners NYU Tandon with local schools and the New York community and currently is focusing on the benefits of technology in the classroom.

With SOAR, Ferrarotto designs and develops online modules to prepare Brooklyn Tech students for their chemistry labs, as well as for their Regents Examinations. Ferrarotto’s modules will “act as learning supplements for their chemistry lab, and will also allow me to evaluate how students utilize technology in a learning environment,” Ferrarotto, an undergraduate student majoring in computer engineering, said. Examining the impact of technology towards STEM learning is one of the other goals of SOAR’s partnership with Brooklyn Tech. “Peter will work on assessing whether these modules improve learning by the Brooklyn Tech students and will submit his findings for publication in a journal,” Montclare said, adding that SOAR and Ferrarotto are organizing similar lab modules to help chemistry undergraduates at Tandon.

The year-long fellowship will provide Ferrarotto with hands-on experience and exposure to his research in real-life classroom settings. “It provides me with an opportunity to do work that has a real-world impact — particularly upon how teachers and students utilize technology in the classroom.” Montclare praised Ferrarotto’s progress on developing the online lessons, adding that Ferrarotto has “a unique multidisciplinary handle on both computer science and chemistry needed to propel this effort.”

In addition to his work with SOAR, Ferrarotto is a member of NYU Tandon’s PolyBots Robotics Club and also mentors students at his alma mater, Xaverian High School, in their preparation for the FIRST Robotics Competition. “I hope to continue such a role in the future so that I can inspire young minds to pursue a career in technology,” Ferrarotto said.

Camila Ryder
Graduate School of Arts and Science
Master of Arts in English Literature, Class of 2018