Eagerly putting aside their popsicles and tossing aside the TV remote, more than 200 middle school students from Yonkers, and New York City boroughs opted to participate in a different kind of education experience. The program, hosted by Rensselaer, featured two one-week residential sessions held during the month of July and August that included summer fun, an opportunity to do science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and a chance to experience college life.
The NYS STEM Summer Enrichment Program was designed to engage students, teachers, and parents in learning and applying principles related to science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Approximately 51 teachers served as instructors. More than 15 parents served as program ambassadors, serving as a link to recruit and encourage their children and
others to pursue study in the STEM fields.
The program was coordinated by Rensselaer’s Dean of Students Office through its Pipeline Initiatives and Partnerships, in collaboration with the Yonkers City School District, New York City schools, and the NYS Education Department.
“The goal of the program is to encourage participants to work together as partners to find ways to align problem solving with the application of the STEM fields in a fun and interactive way,” said Mark Smith, dean of students. “We believe that this served as a great opportunity to engage students’ interests in these disciplines so that they can succeed in these subjects through college and their future careers.”
The program included classroom study, interactive experiments, group projects, and a final presentation delivered to a panel of judges. Students were divided into nine teams that focused on specific projects. Topics included: water purification, energy sustainability, plastics, transportation, water transportation and production, health care reform, commodity of water, disease and life expectancy, and alternative energy resources.
The program also featured daily field trips to places such as the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, the Wild Center at Tupper Lake, Jiminy Peak Wind Turbine, Town of Colonie Landfill, Plug Power, Albany Medical Center, the Arbor Hill Free Clinic, NYS Assembly, and the Pepsi Bottling Plant.
“I have always been fascinated by engineers and I hope to become an engineer one day,” said Dayla Hamo, a seventh-grade student from Yonkers. “This program gave me a chance to learn more about the field. Now I know what I have to focus on when I go back to school.”
“We are honored that we had the chance to host this esteemed camp,” said Cynthia Smith, director of pipeline initiatives and partnerships at Rensselaer. “Already we’ve seen incredible enthusiasm and interest from the students sparked by the connection between the exciting interactive experiments and field trips and the core curriculum taught by our highly qualified and motivated teachers.”
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