Industry Tour Series: Rochester General Hospital

September 24, 2014

Welcome back to our STEM Series:  Summer Teaching Institute Industry Tours.  In this series we are highlighting the local industries that welcomed our Summer Institute participants this summer.  Read more about the Summer Institute here.  This installment focuses on Rochester General Hospital.  


Teachers Tour Rochester General Hospital on 8/12/14

When we arrived at Rochester General Hospital, we were warmly greeted by Dr. Lucy Sheils, who escorted us through a beautiful atrium, complete with player piano and a café, to the centrally-located lab facility. As soon as we walked through the door, we were in a bright, clean, and busy medical laboratory.

We were welcomed to a conference room with coffee and bagels/sweet treats where we met more of the staff who hosted our visit. There were some opening remarks by Dr. Sheils, including information about the upcoming shortage of medical technologists – who comprise most of the lab staff – due to retirements and increased demand. She introduced us to her specialty, pathology, including her path from high school though medical school to where she is today.

Students at the Rochester General Hospital Clinical Laboratory Technology Program

Students at the Rochester General Hospital Clinical Laboratory Technology Program

Dr. Roberto Vargas talked more about the Medical Technology training program at the hospital including information about the various entry points to a career in the laboratory side of medical practice. These opportunities range from phlebotomists who are required to have a HS diploma through opportunities at the Associates degree, Bachelors degree, up through Medical School. The function and interaction of each of five laboratory specialty areas was described to us by Dr. Roberto Vargas/Microbiology, Lorraine Francisco/Chemistry, Maureen Shoenberger/Hematology, Hal James/Histology, and Glenda Spencer/Blood Bank. Each of these specialists then gave us a tour through their area that included tissue preparation including sectioning a colon, microscope slide preparation and staining, drug testing and specimen culturing, blood analysis including an impressive automated system that moved samples to various test equipment. The laboratory staff was, without exception, extremely welcoming, cheerful, and enthusiastic. They clearly enjoyed sharing what they did and how they did it with us and were both conscientious and proud of their work.

As teachers, it was an extremely useful tour from the perspective of understanding medical laboratory practices as well as informing us of additional career opportunities to discuss with students. Most focus on becoming a nurse or a doctor because that is the most visible part of the profession but there are many other opportunities for work that is both in demand and a good career choice in terms of working conditions, opportunity, and compensation.


Kathryn Jensen, Vanguard Collegiate High School

Thank you very much to the staff of Rochester General Hospital’s Laboratory for a wonderful morning!

Kathryn Jensen is a Science Teacher (Chemistry) at the Vanguard Collegiate High School, in the Rochester City School District.  She participated in the Summer STEM Teaching Institute offered by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.

STEM Series: Summer Teaching Institute Update and Industry Tours

September 18, 2014

Early this spring, we announced the development of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub 2014 Summer Teaching Institute. The Institute focused on Project Based Learning and STEM Careers and featured tours of local industry (see blog post from March for background info:  Why Integrate STEM and Project Based Learning).

Teachers working on their lesson plans

Teachers working on their lesson plans

Twenty four teachers from ten local school districts participated in the inaugural Summer STEM Institute during the week of August 11th.  Highlights of the week included each teacher visiting two local companies that support STEM education and hire students into STEM careers.  Ten companies and municipal organizations supported the teachers by providing highly personalized tours and discussions.  The local companies and municipal organizations included:  Rochester General Hospital Laboratory, Day Automation, Optimax, Sentry Safe, Sweetwater Energy, Gorbel Crane, Renewable Rochester, RGR Transit Authority, VanLare Wastewater, and the DEC at Linear Park.

Teachers also met local engineers during networking lunches.  Engineers from Harris Corporation, Barton & Loguidice, Pictometry, Larsen, Pathfinder, Optimation, MRB Group, Stack Dog Solutions, Xerox, and NOHMs Technologies came and spoke to teachers about their personal career paths and the companies they worked for, and then answered questions about how the lessons teachers were developing connected to real world use.

Teachers also had time to learn about problem based learning (PBL) and reflect upon and share what they saw during their tours.  They had significant time to work together to develop and update lesson plans.  At the end of the week, teachers created posters and shared their results with the entire group in a poster session.

The highlights of the week included the following:

  • Teachers found the industry tours and networking lunches with engineers highly valuable in linking what they teach to real-world applications.
  • Teachers enjoyed meeting other colleagues from around the region and sharing ideas and best practices.
  • Teachers valued having time to work on and develop their ideas in an environment that included resources to support curriculum writing, technology, standards, and subject area content.
  • Teachers were surprised and energized by the outpouring of support and encouragement they experienced from our local companies.
  • Teachers gained new insights about the experiences and skills that industries value most in future employees.
  • Teachers were excited about the connections they made to industry and other community resources. Many of the teachers gained new contacts that offered to act as a future resource to their classroom.

The teachers will be getting back together once this fall and also again in the spring to follow up and share their experiences in implementing their PBL lessons. The lessons developed during this Institute will be posted on our website in late November. Keep an eye out for news about future Summer Institute, which will also be highlighted on our website.

This STEM Series will continue with a focus on the industry tours that Institute participants attended.  Each company that provided a tour will be highlighted over the next couple of weeks.

Dr. Bruce Capron is the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations at the Honeoye Falls – Lima Central School District.  He is an active member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee, and served on the Committee that organized the Summer Institute.

Industry Tour Series: VanLare wastewater treatment plant

September 8, 2014

Welcome back to our STEM Series:  Summer Teaching Institute Industry Tours.  In this series we are highlighting the local industries that welcomed our Summer Institute participants this summer.  Read more about the Summer Institute here.  This installment focuses on the VanLare Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The VanLare wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) is one of two WWTF’s in Monroe County and is the site responsible for treating the majority of the wastewater from Monroe County and surrounding areas. One big takeaway is the immediate need for trained operators. This is a great career option for students who are willing to work hard and get their hands dirty! Much of the current workforce entered back in the 1970s with the Clean Water Act, and they are nearing retirement.

Van Lare Wastewater Treatment Facility Photo by Democrat & Chronicle

Van Lare Wastewater Treatment Facility
Photo by: Democrat & Chronicle

People that are interested in this career field can enter with varying levels of education. The company provides licensing training to all employees. Another key takeaway is that there needs to be more education for the public about wastewater. They are very enthusiastic about having groups come to the facility for tours or having employees go to schools (or any other community organization). They were very supportive of providing us with any resources we would find helpful with creating lesson plans/projects for our classroom.

For more information, please contact the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services.

Gwen Scibienski teaches math at Pittsford Mendon High School. Caitlin Ullock teaches biology at Pittsford Mendon High School.  Both teachers participated in the Summer STEM Teaching Institute offered by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.

Acclaimed Scientist to Speak in Rochester: The Future Needs Girls in Science

September 8, 2014

Girl Scouts of Western New York is excited to bring to Rochester Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D., a science evangelist, former professor of mechanical engineering at Yale and science adviser for science programs like NOVA. She will speak as part of the Leadership Breakfast Series taking place Friday, September 19 at 8 a.m. at the Riverside Convention Center.

Ainissa Ramirez Ph.D

Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D.

Dr. Ramirez believes science is fun for everyone. She will share why it matters to get girls more involved and engaged in science. She’ll also talk about the interesting history of girls and women in science. For example, did you know that girls used to dominate science classrooms? Today many girls shy away from science labs, but it’s important for girls to know they can pursue science if it interests them. There is nothing wrong with a girl who loves science!

Dr. Ramirez will share a little bit about her own journey and how she ended up – and succeeded – in the science field. She’ll even provide an inspirational message on encouraging more girls to pursue education in the sciences.

The general public is invited to this event, and proceeds will help to provide programming for girls in Rochester and throughout Western New York. If you have an interest in science or believe girls should feel comfortable dreaming up any future they please – including a future that involves science – join Girl Scouts for this event!

The cost is $40 per person or $30 for students. Learn more or purchase your tickets here .

Ruth Harper-Rhode is the Public Relations Manager of the Girl Scouts of Western New York, Rochester Service Center