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.


Guest Essay: NYS Should Adopt the Next Generation Science Standards

May 23, 2014

Kimberle Ward addressed Regent Norwood at the May Meeting of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub

My work with the Finger Lakes STEM Hub has been a passion of mine. The Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) have provided an equitable playing field for students throughout New York State as well as the Nation. With the implementation of the CCLS our STEM learning standards have been addressed in isolation. It is time to fully align and integrate STEM learning skills P-12.

The opportunity to speak with Regent Norwood was an honor. On behalf of educators my message was composed to share the urgency to continue the momentum of the teaching and learning improvements we are experiencing with the CCLS and adopt/adapt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Regent Norwood,

The research highlights that when provided with equitable learning opportunities, students from diverse backgrounds are capable of engaging in scientific practices and constructing meaning in both science classrooms and informal settings. The NGSS account for the changing demographics of our schools and place every child on a fair and equitable playing field.

College and Career demands the ability to problem solve by forming a hypothesis and testing it out. These are the skills our students need to be successful professionally and personally.

The demographics of our schools are rapidly changing. We are facing challenges as a result of increased poverty levels and the presence of families in the United States seeking better opportunities for their English Language Learners.

The NGSS are rigorous, they place every child on a level playing field, and they make connections to the ELA and Math standards. Our students need to be exposed to STEM learning opportunities in a world that is globally connected with competitive demands that will continue to focus on the success of students throughout the United States.

Integration of subject areas strengthens science learning. Science is currently being de-emphasized. We cannot afford to disregard the 21st century learner and learning skills K-12. We need to excite, inspire and motivate our students to use inquiry and problem solving to explore the wonders of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The NGSS provide these opportunities.

The crosscutting concepts are overarching scientific themes that emerge across all scientific disciplines. These themes provide context for new disciplinary core ideas that enable students to develop a cumulative, coherent, and usable understanding of science and engineering. Concepts are integrated and interrelated supporting a rigorous set of standards for increased learning and deep understanding.

The time is now, why wait? Teachers are embracing the shifts in ELA and Math, making the shifts in Science reachable and doable. Developing modules using the NGSS that imbed the ELA and Math standards will certainly provide a cross-discipline of learning, making it relevant and rigorous. This is critical especially for our K-6 teachers who often disregard or spend less time on Science standards due to lack of competence, confidence, and connections. the NGSS provide these connections.

With a strong engineering component present in the standards our students will have increased chances for a decent, well paying jobs. Engineering provides opportunity to inspire creativity and innovation…the very things that will position the United States to be much more globally competitive.

The progressions are critical for deep understanding of the foundational concepts of science and engineering. We can no longer teach these concepts in isolation of each other. Please, our STEM learning commitment needs to be aligned and the NGSS give us hope for improved learning in the area of Science and engineering. We cannot wait, our students deserve a set of standards that speak the language of 21st Century learning skills needed to improve and advance. This makes good sense, providing a model for innovation and commitment to our students K-12, by adopting the NGSS, will continue to motivate other States to emulate the work of our NYS educators. They have embraced and persevered the work…because they believe this is what is best for KIDs!  

Thank you.   (Presented at STEM Hub Meeting, May 9, 2014)

Kimberle A. Ward is the Superintendent of the Gates Chili Central School District.  In addition, she is the Previous Superintendent of the Naples Central School District, and taught Science at the Middle and High School levels for 14 years prior to Administration.


This is STEM!

May 17, 2012

Michelle Kavanaugh
Superintendent
Honeoye Falls-Lima School District

Note:  This is fifth in a series of posts by members of the Finger Lakes STEM hub Steering Committee and Board of Champions. Dr. Kavanaugh was a speaker at the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Launch on May 10th, 2012. Below is the transcript of her presentation.

This is an exciting moment for regional K-12 education.  The Hub is one of the most promising supports in our mission to assure all students are college and career-ready. At a time when local employers are being forced to leave STEM-related jobs unfilled, school districts and colleges share a mandate in providing students with pathways and experiences that lead to a more vibrant future.  Together, we face a new-era Sputnik-type of imperative to change the course of education.

STEM education is a catalyst for a new tomorrow because it can engage, excite and empower.  It can lift up learning because it challenges students to think critically, collaborate and solve complex problems.  It can inspire because it is built on forging four meaningful connections.  Here is what I mean:

#1)  Connections with the Real World – Nothing is more motivating for learners than when rolling up their sleeves to do hands-on experiences that are relevant to their interests and to their future opportunities.  For example:  Solving authentic environmental problems or interning in local businesses – this is STEM!

#2)  Connections across Content Areas – Students are involved in solving complex problems when they can design new solutions and explore innovations by applying knowledge broadly across subject boundaries.  For example:  Robotics competitions – this is STEM!

#3)  Connections with Higher Standards – STEM learning is rigorous and aligned with industry standards as well as state and national core curriculum and the newly-released Next Generation National Science Standards.  For example:  the Hub’s plan to inspire student created video productions based on inquiry and media literacy, as seen in the Hub’s Video – this is STEM!

#4) Connections with Business and Community – STEM learning requires the active involvement of leaders and enlightened volunteers across economic sectors.  For example:  partnerships that support learning with the Rochester Museum & Science Center, Siemens and Xerox – this is STEM!

The Hub is poised to provide schools support for professional development, and sharing of innovative practices.  This gives us hope and great promise. A recent Hub-sponsored tour of an East Syracuse school district is an example of the work of the Hub in building local capacity through valuable networking.

On behalf of K-12 educators, we call on each of you to join us in making STEM education a local covenant for building a better future.

Michelle Kavanaugh is a member of the Finger Lakes STEM hub Steering Committee.


All students need STEM

May 8, 2012

Jonathan Franz
Dean of the Genesee Valley Center of SUNY Empire State College

Note:  This is second in a series of posts by members of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee and Board of Champions.

As a person with a life-long interest in science and graduate training as a neuroscientist, I am committed to helping our educators at all levels to excite students about the value of scientific inquiry. Understanding the world around us is becoming more important than ever.  The dangers to the planet of population growth, air and water pollution and global warming have been understood by scientists for quite some time, but are still controversial among the chattering classes and the general population. Technological advances in manufacturing, information management, and various service industries demand constantly increasing levels of technical expertise from employees at all levels. And yet, student achievement in STEM fields in the United States is slipping relative to other countries. If the US and the world are to continue to enjoy prosperity and a high quality of life, we need to educate the next generation to think in scientific and mathematical ways, to think critically about public policy issues, and to make decisions based on scientific reasoning rather than political rhetoric. For the special group of students with a high aptitude for science and math, we need to help them overcome any economic and social barriers to their success. They will be the innovators and problem solvers of the future.

Jonathan Franz is a member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Board of Champions.


May the STEM of learning be with you!

May 6, 2012

Kimberle Ward
Superintendent
Naples Central School District

Note:  This is first in a series of posts by members of the Finger Lakes STEM hub Steering Committee and Board of Champions.

Working with the Finger Lakes STEM Hub committee to prepare for this exciting launch has been a real passion of mine. After teaching Biology and Chemistry for 14 years my hope was to preserve the integrity of the sciences, along with technology, engineering and math as a school district administrator. Many of my colleagues have been overwhelmed with the Regents Reform Agenda, Race to the Top (RTTT), and the many mandates facing school districts that focus primarily on English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. I shared the vision of my peers serving on this committee and taking on the challenging work of creating a local Hub. I wanted to be sure there was a formal awareness and support for school districts to maintain a strong academic program for the Sciences, Technology and Engineering while meeting the demands of educational reform in the areas of ELA and Math.

The Hub is a collaboration of people that see the benefit in teaching our students how to problem solve, use inquiry, and participate in hands-on learning through STEM, and for many through STEAM (adding an “A” for the arts). There has been recent research to support the value of a strong STEM education that can be integrated into the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). I recently read an article that voiced a real concern for Homeland Security and Secret Service type careers-they report that we do not have students pursuing STEM fields that will ensure progressive/modern improvements in the United States’ ability to compete with our global neighbors. Our job, as the Finger Lakes Hub is to work collaboratively with UPK-12 educators, Colleges and Universities, and more importantly workforce providers to make STEM learning interesting, inspiring, and fun for all students. This is hard work, but exciting work. May the STEM of learning be with you!

Kimberle Ward is a member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee.