Robots and Roosters: STEM Mentor Program Visits Springdale Farm

June 30, 2010

Big Sister Taylor and her Little Sister Shalese at Springdale Farm

On June 19 the STEM Mentor Program – an innovative partnership between   The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science (The Center) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester (BBBS)   – visited Springdale Farm in Ogden, New York. 

Springdale Farm provided a wealth of STEM education and activities for the Bigs and Littles in the program, which matches fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from the Rochester area with adult mentors who have a background or passion in STEM  fields.

Owned by Monroe County and operated by Heritage Christian Services, the 200 acre farm is a working agricultural education facility open to the public. It boosts a petting zoo, greenhouse, duck pond, nature trails, picnic area and playground. 

The farm is also home to Riedman Robotic Milking Center –  a working dairy that utilizes a robotic milking machine to milk sixty cows.  Springdale Farm was the first public demonstration farm in the Northeast to install this cutting-edge technology.   

STEM Mentor participants took a tour of the Riedman Robotic Milking Center and got to see this amazing technology first hand.    

Tour of the robotic milking barn

The tour elicited many questions–by the Bigs and Littles alike.  “I have a question,” said Little Brother Raajon as he watched a cow being milked and a nearby tank filling with the cow’s white milk, “Where are the cows that produce the chocolate milk?” The Springdale Farm tour guide proceeded to answer the question with great detail for the entire group.   

Little Brother Colton in the petting farm area

Raajon’s Big Brother Jim loved how the tour evoked many questions and provided great answers. “There were good questions coming from the mentors and the mentees,” Jim said. “It was really exciting to see.”    
Big Brother Ensley also enjoyed the dairy barn tour. “I found the robotic dairy barn fascinating,” said Ensley – an engineer. “There was so much I did not know. I will certainly encourage friends to come.”    

 In addition to the dairy barn tour, STEM Mentor pairs enjoyed lunch, a roundtable discussion about informal science learning, and a scavenger hunt around the farm for science prizes like kites, volcano making kits, and owl pellets to dissect.   

“It was a cool day,” said Little Brother Shamar. “I liked everything, but I liked petting the animals the most.”  

 If you are interested in learning more about or joining the STEM Mentor Program please email the program coordinator, Caurie Putnam, at  

All STEM Mentors are Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers foremost and must first go through the thorough background check and training the organization provides.  


Fun at Springdale Farm