BROOKLYN, New York – In July and August, hundreds of teachers and students will gather in Downtown Brooklyn for the fifth annual STEMNow—one of New York City’s largest and most comprehensive lineups of summer workshops, classes and labs designed to immerse middle- and high-school students in science, technology, engineering and math—the STEM subjects.
Throughout the summer, middle- and high-school students will get hands-on experience in fields such as robotics and mechatronics, entrepreneurship, smart cities, 3D printing, integrated circuit design and cybersecurity.
STEMNow also teaches New York’s teachers: For the past five years, public-school educators have come to NYU Tandon to learn how to incorporate robotics, mechatronics and other exciting technology into their STEM curricula. All told, STEMNow has enhanced the science, mathematics, engineering and research skills of 350 teachers, thereby positively affecting the lives of more than 22,000 students between 2013—when the program launched—and the end of this summer.
One noteworthy new program pairs New York City high-school teachers with two of their own students to learn techniques of tech entrepreneurship. Another, a perennial favorite, gives 10th and 11th graders who don’t have access to strong STEM programs at their schools—students of color and those from low-income backgrounds—scientific training and deep research opportunities in NYU laboratories. Both of these programs exemplify how STEMNow reflects NYU Tandon’s longstanding commitment to opening engineering—with its high salaries and many career opportunities—to students from a wide range of backgrounds and economic means.
“Since 2013, STEMNow has given thousands of New York City middle- and high-school students their first immersion in engineering and science,” said NYU Tandon Dean Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “And when a youngster is exposed to high-level research in a university lab or encounters a passionate NYU Tandon student mentor, he or she realizes unimaginable possibilities. When teachers return to their classrooms with innovative ideas for engaging their students in STEM, it has a ripple effect on entire generations of future engineers and scientists. We’re pleased to open NYU Tandon’s doors so that others can be inspired by our stellar faculty and students, work in our labs and classrooms, and immerse themselves in our culture of intellectual curiosity and technology in service to society.”
Why STEM Matters at NYU Tandon
According to a 2017 study by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, African Americans earn less than 4 percent of the bachelor of science degrees in engineering, and fewer than 5 percent of African Americans are in the science and engineering workforce.
By contrast, 85 percent of students who are ultimately served by STEMNow—thanks in part to teachers who participate in its teacher-training programs—come from communities historically underrepresented in STEM disciplines. About one third of the students come from families in which no one has attended college. The goal of STEMNow is to democratize access to the kind of high-quality instruction required to succeed in STEM higher education and the competitive global economy.
The opportunity gaps in STEM are not just racial and economic: Nationwide, only a quarter of the labor force in STEM fields is female, and, according to a recent study by research firm Frost & Sullivan, women make up just 11 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce.
In contrast, young women constitute nearly 60 percent of STEMNow participants. STEMNow Computer Science for Cyber Security (CS4CS) is exclusively for young women, and NYU Tandon also hosts a workshop run by Girls Who Code, a national organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. NYU Tandon’s focus on bringing more women to engineering is reflected in its own student population. For the fall 2017 class, a record 40 percent of NYU Tandon freshmen will be female, well above the national average for all engineering undergraduates of 21 percent.
Participating schools in this year’s STEMNow include Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, Teaneck, N.J.; the Al-Noor High School, which serves the Muslim community of Brooklyn; and St. Joseph High School, an all-girls school serving 300 young women of all faiths and backgrounds.
For middle- and high-school students, highlights of STEMNow include:
Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE): This is a tuition-free, seven-week program designed for 10th- and 11th-grade students with little or no access to high-quality STEM education experiences, students of color and those from low-income backgrounds. Students are mentored by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty members, and are immersed in challenging college-level coursework and lab research in such fields as civil and urban engineering, composite materials, mechanics, molecular design, robotics, sensors and protein engineering.
Creative Circuit Design Workshop: In this one-week hands-on program for high-school juniors and seniors, students explore the architecture of basic circuit blocks—the electronics in virtually all interactive devices. They create radios, design circuits with conductive ink and breadboards, learn to reduce the carbon footprint of their devices and more, all under the supervision of experienced undergraduate and graduate electrical engineering students.
CrEST (Creativity in Engineering, Science and Technology): In this “camp within a camp,” high-school students who were trained during the CrEST spring term work with NYU Tandon graduate and undergraduate students to run a series of one-week workshops for hundreds of middle-school students in summer camps run by some of the city’s most prominent nonprofit organizations, including CAMBA, Good Shepherd Services and Grand Street Settlement. Participants learn about electronics, circuitry, mechanical systems, physical computing, robotics and other STEM disciplines.
CS4CS (Computer Science for Cyber Security): This initiative introduces young women in high school to programming, virtuous hacking and digital forensics during an intensive and supportive three-week program designed to encourage them to pursue educational opportunities in cybersecurity—a field that is growing at more than 10 times the overall job market. At the conclusion, students get to be cyber-detectives in a mystery involving the theft of Wonder Woman’s iconic lasso.
Science of Smart Cities: In this highly successful program developed by NYU Tandon and shared internationally, middle-school students learn about energy, urban infrastructure, transportation and wireless communications—aspects of science and engineering that make cities safer and more livable, efficient and sustainable. At the conclusion of the program, participants stage a Smart Cities Exposition, demonstrating their ideas, devices, smart buildings and infrastructure. More than 600 students have completed the program since its inception.
Innovation, Entrepreneurship and the Science of Smart Cities (ieSoSC): Taught by NYU Tandon graduate and undergraduate students, this intensive new program introduces high schoolers to innovation and entrepreneurship. After five weeks of hands-on instruction and mentoring, participants enter a three-week team-based workshop to create smart-cities devices or ideas that offer solutions to urban challenges.
Tech Kids Unlimited: Technology can be a great equalizer for those with learning or emotional difficulties. Workshops by Tech Kids Unlimited aim to provide special-needs students with the 21st-century technology tools they require for success. Youths ages 7-13 create digital projects based on their affinities and interests. Topics include 3D printing, logo design, game design, website creation, viral videos/memes/gifs, animation and coding with music, along with learning programs such as Adobe Photoshop and iStop Motion. Teens in the T3 (Talented. Tech. Team.) Digital Agency, ages 14-20, work on digital projects including a fire truck wiki, an app and a website for clients such as the NY Transit Museum, Ohel Agency and Semblance AR. Teens delve into 3D printing, UX and logo design, game design, website creation, video editing, stop-motion animation, and 360-video virtual and augmented reality.
Girls Who Code: NYU Tandon is partnering with the national nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology and coding and teaching girls how to be change agents in their communities. The program immerses high-school girls in computer science for projects in art and storytelling, robotics, video games, websites, apps, guest lectures and field trips.
College-Credit Courses: High-school students who want to get a jump on college-credit courses or simply explore hot fields of study can enroll in a variety of subjects. These tuition courses include several sections of calculus as well as Introduction to Engineering and Design, which provides a working knowledge of contemporary engineering practice and will culminate in designing and building a robot. Others include Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology and Introduction to Science and Technology Studies, which explores the relationships among science, technology and society from philosophical, historical and sociological points of view.
Injecting Ethics and Humanities into STEM
STEMNow infuses science, math and engineering with humanities and even acting classes:
Dimensions of Scientific Inquiry: When autonomous drones are used in warfare, who is giving orders and who is responsible when the drone makes a targeting error? How do race and gender affect what gets funded for research and, more broadly, how we set scientific priorities? How do we teach a self-driving car how to make a snap decision about what to collide with when there is no other choice? These are topics that Brendan Matz, professor of science and technology studies at NYU Tandon and the Gallatin School of NYU, and Leah Aronowsky, a doctoral candidate in the history of science at Harvard University, explore in this course, in which ARISE participants tackle science writing and ethical and moral considerations raised by contemporary research.
Acting techniques taught by the renowned Irondale theater company: The Brooklyn-based theater company teaches improvisational acting skills to help students in the ARISE, Science of Smart Cities and ieSoSC classes prepare for their final presentations to audiences of engineers, urban planners, businesspeople and smart-cities experts.
Touching Those Who Reach the Next Generation
In addition to hosting the students, STEMNow plays an integral part in helping NYU Tandon fulfill its pledge to the White House to educate 500 teachers and positively impact 50,000 public-school students throughout New York City in the coming decade. This summer, teachers take part in the following:
Discovery Research (DR) for Teachers: Twenty-four middle-school science and math teachers spend three weeks at NYU Tandon as part of a comprehensive year-round STEM professional development program, funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) DR K-12 program. NYU experts in robotics, engineering, education, curriculum design and assessment make robotics central to and sustainable in the city’s science and math classrooms. Math and science teachers return to their schools supported by NYU Tandon graduate students.
SMARTeR (Science and Mechatronics Aided Research for Teachers with an Entrepreneurship Experience): Public-school teachers enhance their STEM curricula with a hands-on, mechatronics-based exploration of mechanical engineering, control theory, computer science and electronics. Participants also learn such entrepreneurship skills as business planning, social entrepreneurship and technology, new product development, intellectual property and fundraising. During the last four weeks, teachers conduct engineering research alongside graduate and undergraduate researchers and faculty.
ITEST Robotics and Entrepreneurship: With this new program, robotics and engineering drive professional development and educational enrichment for high-school teachers and their students. Teachers, joined by two of their students, learn about business planning, new-product development, intellectual property and fundraising. Students participate in entrepreneurship competitions, develop working models in STEM and improve their laboratory skills. At program’s end, teachers receive a kit of robotics equipment for summer courses that they take back to their schools.