Summer Science Lab Camp

June 14, 2016

What happens when you have a student with a passion for volunteering combined with a love of science?  The Summer Science Lab Camp is born!  The driving force behind this camp is local high school student Julia Visconte.  For this segment of our Student Guest Blog Series,  we asked Julia to tell us about the inspiration for this program:summer fun

I started a summer science lab camp this year (being held from August 8th thru August 12th) for students from any district entering third to fifth grade. The camp encompasses five days of learning and participating in labs in relation to several different branches of science: earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. In addition, four of the five days includes a fun engineering challenge where students will work together to solve the challenge put in front of them.

The idea to create this program came to me in a conversation I had with my mom. I volunteer through notable clubs such as KEY Club and National Honor Society, participating in events like bell ringing for the salvation army and helping out at the community rec. center. One day, after volunteering I got home and told my mom I loved helping out but wished I could add more value rather than collecting money or passing out treats. After hearing my comment she asked me: “Well, what exactly would you be interested in helping in?” I pondered her question for a few days then told her about my idea of a science camp. My mom gave me full support for this idea! My dad was a little more hesitant. He was worried I was getting into something that would be too much to handle on top of the clubs I was already in, my advanced courses at school, and running long-distance on the outdoor track team. I took his criticism into consideration and replied that I was too passionate to give this idea up. He was on-board.summer science

Along with the support of my parents, I received an enormous amount of help and support from my science teachers and technology teachers at school. My physics teacher in particular was enthusiastic with my camp idea and helped me in creating it. He coordinated several conferences including a meeting with the entire high school science department, one with the principal at an elementary school, another with the principal at my own school, and one with the enriched club leader for younger students. These opportunities changed my stature in front of groups of people, I gained so much confidence from this experience. I even got a chance to pursue funding from the student council of my school, thanks to two of my friends who spoke to the advisor about my camp. I can’t even count the number of emails my teachers and I sent to get this program running. This camp helped get me a ton of exposure in the district. This experience has been really good for me and I’m really glad that I got involved with it!

Camp Details:

  • August 8-12, 2016, 9-11 AM
  • Open to students from all districts entering grades 3-5 in September
  • Camp held at Brockport High School
  • Cost is $80
  • Click here to see the flyer for more details and registration information

Julia Visconte is a rising senior at Brockport High School.  She is an active member of the National Honor Society,  Key Club and the Varsity Track Team.  She has participated in Explorers in Engineering with the Rochester Engineering Society,  and is currently involved in Project Lead the Way. She is also a recipient of the 2016 Rensselaer Medal, the 2015 Chemistry and Algebra 2/Trig Award, and the 2015 Pre-Calculus Award given at Brockport High School’s scholarship and awards night.

STUDENTS:  Are you a local student interested in writing about your experiences in local STEM activities?  We invite you to join us for our student guest blog series! Contact our Web Administrator at


Recognition Event: Meet Our Award Recipients!

May 25, 2016

STEM award ribbonAs we wrap up our 2015-2016 STEM Recognition program, we’d like to share a little bit about the amazing programs that we got to know this year.

One of the goals of the Hub has been to highlight exceptional work that is already taking place throughout our area. It is our intention to have an impact on students by providing teachers and administrators with examples of great STEM activities that are happening around us. We want to INSPIRE others to engage students in meaningful STEM lessons throughout their years of school.

We used the NYS STEM Quality Learning Rubric as a guide to indicate the current status of programs as well as to provide them with a vision for future growth.

Over the next several weeks, the STEM Blog will feature  these programs, providing a closer look at these award-winning programs that are enriching STEM experiences for our students throughout the Finger Lakes Region.  We will feature a single school per blog post and include a brief description and some of the slides that they provided to us with their application.  In the meantime, please enjoy the photos from our Recognition Event at the STANYS Central Western Section Science Exploration Days at St. John Fisher College on Friday, May 13th.   There are too many to post, so please click here to view them via google.  We thank STANYS and all of our sponsors for their incredible support!

2016 Award Winners (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Brighton High School – Energy and Sustainability Course
  • Churchville Chili School District – Garden of the Saints
  • Eastridge High School – Project Lead the Way
  • Brockport Central School:  Fred W. Hill Elementary School STEM Program
  • Greece Arcadia High School – Titan Memorial Hospital
  • Greece Athena Middle School – 21st Century STEM Innovative Solutions Expo
  • Lima Primary School – STEAM Education Program
  • Seneca Falls:  Mynderse Academy ­ Robotics Club
  • Nathaniel Rochester Community School ­ NRCS Monthly STEM Challenges
  • Nathaniel Rochester Community School – NRCS STEM School
  • Nathaniel Rochester Community School – NRCS 3rGrade STEM Class
  • Nathaniel Rochester Community School – NRCS Kindergarten Class
  • Rochester Institute of Technology ­ SMASH Experience for Girls
  • Siena Catholic Academy – Ms. Vona’s 6tGrade STEM Class
  • Sodus Middle/High School STEM Program – STEM Challenges Regional Event
  • St. Louis School – STEM Lab
  • Wayland­-Cohocton High School ­ STEAM Program (Timber Framing and Woodland Resources)
  • Wheatland-­Chili Central School District :  K12 STEM Education Program

Learn more about our recognition program by visiting our program page on the Finger Lake STEM Hub website.

New Summer PD: Careers and Relevance

April 29, 2016

Counselors! Teachers! Educators!

We have changed up the Summer Professional Development Institute offered by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub this year. More tours and hands-on field experiences, a bit less in-class time, less project-/problem-based learning emphasis (don’t worry! We will still cover the basics using tools from the Buck Institute for Education).

Career signCounselors, think about how you can tie real jobs and skills needed for those jobs to actual career paths students need to take The technical, two-year, hands-on certificate programs like Optical Systems Technology, Precision Machining in Optical Fabrication, or Solar Thermal Technology at Monroe Community College and Food Processing Technology at Genesee Community College to the traditional four-year programs like Optical Engineering at University of Rochester or Environmental Engineering at RIT or Biochemistry at Nazareth College. With industry tours, networking lunches with local professionals, and hands-on field explorations, you can see the local job market, hear the skills needed, and experience first-hand what is needed for students to succeed in the region. [Note: the above programs are local examples, not all will be touched upon in class!]

Teachers, you can see how the topics and skills you teach come to life in the real world, solving everyday local challenges all the way to working on international problems with tiny parts created right here in the region. You will become more familiar with career pathways, traditional and non-traditional, and hear from industry leaders what skills are important and just how our local region is taking the world by storm, creating all levels of jobs your students can easily fill.

So, sign up and come explore student engagement, project-/problem-based learning, 21st Century skills, career & college readiness, and network with local professionals to enhance your teaching and experiences for students.

Click here to see the full course description, and to access the registration link.

Betsy Ukeritis is the Inter-regional Environmental Educator at the NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation.  She is also an active member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee and the FL STEM Hub Summer PD Institute Committee

Meet a local science author this weekend!

April 8, 2016

Annette Dunn is a local author who has recently published a series of science books for young children.  The series, Jumbo Minds’ Science ABCs, introduces the language of science to young children in ABC form.  There are 4 books in the series: ABCs of Biology, ABCs of Chemistry, ABCs of Earth Science, and ABCs of Physics.

Annette Dunn

Each book, written and reviewed by scientists and teachers, highlights 26 words from each subject, introducing the vocabulary and concepts in the very simplest and gentlest way. A dyslexic-friendly font was used to aid readability. The books target children ages 0-6, but include detail that can apply to older students and adults.

From the home setting to the school setting, there are many applications for incorporating this series to fit many needs.  The authors have also created a matrix for educators that align the content of the books with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Jumbo Minds, the publishing company behind the series, started with a passion to share the love of science with children, especially during the explosive brain growth period when languages are most easily learned.  Co-founded by Annette with her sister Corrine Knight, they were later joined by sister Valeri Sewald, making Jumbo Minds a true family affair to bring the language of science to our community’s youngest learners.

We asked Annette where the inspiration for their company came from:

There were two main factors that led to the creation of Jumbo Minds:

The first was the awareness of the knowledge gap in the American scientific educational system. We learn language from birth in order to communicate. We’re taught to count as babies and begin to understand numeracy. However, our children are not introduced to science concepts or science language until brain connection growth subsides. We feel that this is an opportunity missed. 

The second factor – there weren’t enough books that allowed us to share science with our young children.  So we decided to create what we were looking for but hadn’t found.  Studies have shown that the best time for children to learn additional languages is birth through age five. Exposure to language during that time period of explosive brain growth leads to improved language fluency and understanding later in life. We feel science is a language, and that by introducing the terminology and concepts to young children, they will have a strong foundation on which to build their knowledge of science and the world around them. 


Tomorrow, April 9th,  you can meet Annette at Lift Bridge Book Shop in Brockport!  She will be there from 2:00-4:00 pm.  There will be a book signing as well as a hands-on activity for kids that will introduce them to a few physics words and concepts.

For full details, please visit the Lift Bridge Book Shop event page.

Annette Dunn is CEO of Jumbo Minds, Inc. JumboMinds_RGB-300x191

~Sharing the Love of Science~


First Robotics Finger Lakes Regional Competition Begins

March 24, 2016

The FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional will be held today (3/24) through Saturday (3/26) in the Gordon Field House at RIT.  The competition is free and open to the public. It’s a perfect example of what happens when you bring schools, STEM focused companies, and mentors who work in the industry to work on a STEM based project together over a short period of time.


The agenda for the competition can be found here.

A list of the 49 teams that will be competing, along with updated scores throughout the weekend can be found here.

An explanation for this year’s game can be found here.

This is the culminating weekend for the event which kicked off in January (click here to read about the kickoff).



Bio Class visits URMC Life Sciences Learning Centers

March 14, 2016

The Life Sciences Learning Center (LSLC) is a unique hands-on science inquiry center for students and community members.  It is located at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  They offer innovative and engaging programs to area secondary students.  We invited a local high school student to share her experience following a recent visit to the LSLC.

A few weeks ago, my biology class visited the University of Rochester’s Life Sciences Learning Centers. We only knew that we were doing a lab, so we didn’t quite know what to expect. Upon arriving, we donned our lab coats and sat down at our individual stations. We immediately started a lab that involved the development of an HIV vaccine. First, we studied the spread of the virus and how the immune system reacts to it. This involved exchanging fluids which could possibly contain the virus. We then tested our fluids to see who was “infected.” Our instructor then showed us how to set up gels to test the vaccines. We got to use a micropipette to place the solution in the gels, which proved to be a bit of a challenge. However, there were some future doctors and scientists who were definitely naturals. After this, we sent an electrical current through the gels. Our results helped us determine which vaccine would be the most effective.


Brockport High School Bio Students visit the LSLC

At the end of the program, our class got a photo together.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at the learning center. I liked getting to see what doctors and scientists do every day to help save lives and advance technology. I would definitely return to do another lab.


Bridget Moyer is a 9th Grade Student at Brockport High School.

Want to learn more about the Life Sciences Learning Center?

URMC To learn more about the LSLC, visit their website or check out their facebook page to learn more about their exciting work with area students.

STUDENTS:  Are you a local student interested in writing about your experiences in local STEM activities?  We invite you to join us for our student guest blog series! Contact our Web Administrator at




STEM Scholarship is now open for Fall 2016

March 9, 2016

The New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program application is now available for high school seniors entering college in fall 2016.stock-illustration-35725116-scholarship-stamp

The STEM Incentive Program is available to those students who:

· Are in the top 10 percent of their high school Class of 2016

· Plan to attend a SUNY or CUNY college or university in fall 2016

· Plan to pursue an undergraduate degree in a STEM program of study

· Plan to work in a STEM field and live in New York State for at least five years after graduation

· Meet other eligibility requirements listed on the HESC website.

The deadline for application is August 15.

To learn more about the program and it’s requirements and regulations, visit the HESC website.