Newest SOAR fellows spread the joy of science and research to Brooklyn high school students
The best part of being chosen as an NYU Tandon Science Outreach and Research (SOAR) fellow, sophomore Julia Monkovic asserts, is watching the reactions of the students at the Urban Assembly Institute for Math and Science for Young Women when she visits their classroom. Sometimes she arrives with 3-D printed antigens, viruses, and other models that she’s created in the MakerSpace at 6 MetroTech. “It helps them visualize details that might be hard to absorb from a textbook,” she says, “and it’s great to see them happy and engaged. Some have even expressed interest in attending NYU Tandon once they graduate.”
The SOAR program, spearheaded by Professor of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering Jin Montclare, is aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers, chemists, and coders and sends select Tandon students into high school science classrooms and labs to serve as instructors and mentors.
Sophomore Eric Leung, a computer science major who was also named a SOAR fellow this year, finds it gratifying to provide a bridge between lecture and lab for students in the Brooklyn Tech class to which he’s been assigned. He designs on-line modules that students can use before the day of their actual lab, in order to familiarize themselves with and prepare for experiments. “They might be studying rates of reaction, concentration of solutions, or activities of metals,” Leung explains, “and I’m developing modules that ‘gamify’ those topics for them and allow them to see how much fun science can be.”
The fellowships present a win-win situation for everyone involved: the high school students get the benefit of college role models who are enthusiastic about STEM and creative course content, while the Tandon fellows earn an NSF-funded stipend, guided-study credits, and hands-on teaching experience. They also get the chance to conduct publishable research as past fellows have, since part of their work involves assessing the impact of their efforts on STEM learning and student performance; they’ll collect the data via quizzes and surveys and analyze the results as their fellowships move forward.
“Julia and Eric are making the most of this opportunity to do work that impacts the next generation in STEM and improves how teachers and students engage with technology,” Montclare says. “In the process, they are representing Tandon and the SOAR program very well.”