Application now OPEN for the 2018 STEM Awards!

January 11, 2018

The Finger Lakes Regional STEM Hub is seeking to recognize exemplary K-12 programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These programs will be highlighted to inspire others in the education field to incorporate STEM at any level!

Who can apply? Classrooms, schools, districts, and afterschool programs from the 9 county area served by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates Counties.

How to Apply?  Complete the application on the Finger Lakes STEM Hub website.  Award categories are based on the NYS STEM Quality Rubric, also found on our website, and applicants self-select their program’s level of achievement in each of the 9 categories, highlighting what their program does best!  Applications must be received by March 1, 2018.

Key dates:

  • March 1st – Application Deadline
  • May 16th  – Dinner Reception at RMSC

For full details and to access our online application, please visit the 2018 STEM Awards Page.

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STEM Hub meets with Regents

February 17, 2016

8x8 inches (full size)

Members of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee met with Regents Andrew Brown and Wade Norwood in separate meetings over the past few weeks to talk about the upcoming science learning standards and other STEM issues. Dr. Joseph Marinelli, the new director of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, described the group as a “catalyst for collaboration” in the greater Rochester region that brings K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and the many STEM-focused industries of the area to the table. “We bring together a diverse group of people,” Dr. Marinelli explained, “all focused on college and career readiness for students, and that has had a profound impact on STEM in the Finger Lakes region.” The opportunity to also include a broader state perspective from two Regents took the conversations to new heights.

Regent Norwood

Regent Norwood

Both Regent Brown and Regent Norwood described STEM issues as some of the most critical for the educational future of New York State. “We are entering a period of incredible uncertainty,” Regent Norwood warned in reference to new members of the Board of Regents, continuing disruption around APPR issues, and the upcoming changes to science standards. Speaking further about the standards, Regent Norwood also cautioned that “the Next Generation Science Standards have been very tricky for New York State. In some ways they represent what people are scared about in a state wide adoption of a national approach.” The real concern here is that the national standards might be watered down compared to where New York can and is going. “It is wise to move slowly,” Regent Norwood said, “to engage with the field to make sure that as we adopt our vision of Next Gen [Science Standards] we aren’t going backwards in any areas.”

Regent Brown

Regent Brown

The need to move forward also resonated in Regent Brown’s remarks. “There are many reports of STEM field jobs that cannot be filled. Can’t be filled now, and we are adding more jobs.” Regent Brown was cautiously optimistic for a rollout of the new state science standards in the next few months. “It seems like the science world has been looking at science standards in New York forever,” he said, “and that is a blessing and a curse.” Regent Brown was pleased with the incredible opportunities for involvement from the field through surveys and planning groups, but noted that the time had come for action. “We are getting final feedback, and once this survey completes there will be a report back to the Board of Regents. Then the hope is to move forward swiftly.” His optimism comes from a lack of pushback from the field regarding the current draft standards – a situation he credits to the long term involvement of stakeholders.

When the conversations turned to science teachers, both of the Regents noted the need for new pathways for certification that would allow STEM professionals to fill empty teaching positions. “I love science, I read about science, I follow science, but I can’t teach science,” Regent Brown stated. “We need teachers certified in the areas they teach.” At the same time, Regent Brown also called for “better ways of linking what is going on in the classroom with the real world.” He praised the efforts of the STEM Hub around industry visits noting that “bringing teachers out into the real world is a constant reminder of what students need.” Regent Norwood echoed this, calling for a renewed focus on the multiple pathways to graduation and the importance of career readiness as well as college readiness. “Focusing on school to career,” he said, “is not relegating people to lower class lives but rather opens the door for young people to have an entering wage in a career without incurring massive debt from a four year degree that isn’t being used.”

The underlying issue is that of student readiness as they enter a global society and prepare to compete in a global economy. “Readiness is quite frankly of more concern to me than graduation rates,” Regent Brown noted, “We could have 90%, even 100% graduation rate but if students are not ready for what comes next it is a meaningless piece of paper.” Regent Norwood called for Boards of Education to pledge support for STEM and STEAM and not to give in to the pressure to compete around test scores. “The song running through my head keeps my mind occupied and not the idle playground of the devil as my mother would say,” Regent Norwood said. “By sixth grade,” he challenged, “all students must understand the scientific method of inquiry and the world around them.” This includes, he went on to explain, more outdoor experiences to counter the “nature deficit disorder” he sees in many children as well as a continued need for exposure to arts and music.

In terms of outcomes, both conversations left the STEM Hub with new action items to work towards. Regent Brown encouraged the STEM Hub to continue “making connections between the education world.” This includes, he noted, “formalized connections between schools and businesses with teams of committed volunteers who understand education needs and know community resources to bridge the gap and bring services to where they are needed.” Regent Norwood welcomed greater involvement from STEM professionals in crafting the instructional materials for the new science standards. “The Social Studies Framework shows that moving to a more compelling curriculum with a more rigorous approach works against the bubble sheet regime,” Regent Norwood claimed. “Going for rigor,” he cautioned, “means going for rigor not only on the part of the students but also the adults that fund and run the education system.” Regent Norwood strongly supported the idea of the STEM Hub being involved in a collaborative effort between education and industry in the Rochester region to build new instructional materials using open source content and resources from providers like CK12.org.

Christopher Harris is the Director of the School Library System of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and a Fellow for Youth and Technology Policy Issues with the American Library Association.  He is an active participant on the STEM Hub Steering Committee.

 


Initial STEM Coach Goal Met

December 1, 2015

Earlier this month we featured the RES STEM Initiative and their call for volunteers to get more STEM coaches into area classrooms.  If you didn’t see the original blog post, you can read it here:  STEM Education is Important – and You Can Help!

RSV

The RES STEM Initiative has exceeded the 2015/16 school year starting goal to have 30 volunteer Coaches available to support STEM teachers in Upstate New York.  We filled the conference room the evening of Thursday November 5th, with STEM Coach candidates, Teachers, and School Administrators interested in building the connections that put technical people into classrooms.  Engineers, technicians, entrepreneurs, machinists or anyone with a STEM Related Background, will now begin to support hands-on STEM Delivery.  (The year-end goal is more than twice that number.)

November meeting was well attended

November meeting was well attended

The “magic” is that these people have the real-world application experience to make whatever STEM Topic their teacher/partner is pursuing, tangible, usable, and therefore worth remembering!  These Technical people not only bring concepts, but in particular, they bring the Hardware that supports STEM instruction, to the classroom.  We are offering volunteer STEM Coaches to all Rochester area school districts.  Six STEM Coaches are already working at Honeoye Falls-Lima Primary School.

Taking a closer look with Survey equipment

Taking a closer look with Survey equipment

If you have a Science Technology Engineering or Mathematics background, and are retired (or available during school hours), please consider joining this effort.

The RES is also providing Literacy Tutoring at the Dr. Walter Cooper Academy.  This is a Third-Grade volunteer initiative that also needs your support.

There is a BSA Explorer Troop run by the Rochester Engineering Society, where Teens get an eleven-week exposure to Area Engineering/Manufacturing Firms, and extensive Career-Path guidance from practicing Engineers.  We featured this Explorer Troop earlier this year on our blog.  Check out the blog post here.

For further information, please use the Contacts below:

STEM Coaching:  Jon Kriegel –  jkriegel@rochester.rr.com  or cell: 585 281-5216

Literacy Tutoring:  Lee Loomis – leeloomis46@gmail.com

RES Explorer Post 801 Staff or Tour Options:  Richard Repka – rrepka10@gmail.com

Jon Kriegel is a Director and Past President of the Rochester Engineering Society.  Jon began mentoring and volunteering as part of Eastman Kodak’s 21st Century Learning Challenge, and continues to volunteer today through his work as the Volunteer Coordinator at the RES.


2015 STEM Holiday Wish List

November 25, 2015

Ready to start your holiday shopping? This year there are more STEM-inspired gifts than ever!wish-list

While there are far too many choices to provide a comprehensive list, we’ve tried to give an overview of what is new this year, and what parents we’ve spoken to are looking for.

Tight on space or have too many toys?  Some clutter-free ideas:

Spin off their current favorites:

  • Do your kids love the popular TV series Shark Tank as much as mine? STEM Center USA was the focus of a recent episode, a company that focuses exclusively on innovative STEM products.

    3D carving brings your ideas to life!

    3D carving brings your ideas to life!

  • Look around at what they play with the most.  Is there another level that will enhance their play?
  • Do they like carving?  Take it up a notch to 3D carving.  Inventables has a great selection for the makers on your list.

Great ideas for Girls:

Did you know that today’s elementary school girls are actually more interested in pursuing a STEM career than their male classmates are? (souce:  Fortune) And yet, there is still a great disparity in the field (see our recent blog on this topic).  Toy manufacturers are responding to this increase with STEM-inspired offerings specifically with girls in mind.  Some highlights:

Keeping girls engaged in STEM!

Keeping girls engaged in STEM!

  • The folks over at Mighty Girl always put together a great holiday list, and they didn’t disappoint this year.  Building Her Dreams:  Building and Engineering Toys for Mighty Girls focuses on classic building, construction and engineering toys, while the Holiday Gift Guide has a broader variety, with selections broken down by age group and category.
  • Goldiblox has a wide range again this year, from a line of real-life hero action figures to award-winning construction toys, this company focuses on maintaining the natural curiosity that many girls have, and giving them playthings that nurture their interest in building and engineering.
  • At Project MC², where “smart is the new cool” they have apps, videos, games and plenty of gear for girls of all ages.
  • Roominate is another girl-inspired, girl-led company focusing on inspiring and encouraging girls to pursue their interests in engineering by teaching girls through play.

Looking for lots of ideas to browse?

STEM Wish Lists:  Many major retailers have caught on to the STEM interest and now have their own guides available with tons of choices in every price range

The Classic Building Blocks:

No holiday STEM list would be complete without a Lego mention.  Legos are a holiday classic for many families.  While you are shopping for new sets or accessories to complement what you already have at home, take a few minutes and join the Lego Club (FREE!) which gives ideas and inspiration to your builders throughout the year.  Since most STEM-enthusiasts already have a healthy collection of Legos at home, we’re going to suggest our favorite accessories.

Just a dream for 2015, hopes are high for 2016!

Just a dream for 2015, hopes are high for 2016!

  • Brick Separator – these make great stocking stuffers!
  • Base Plates – you can never have enough of these
  • Lego Storage Systems – many ideas, for any size collection!
  • Lego Slippers – sadly these are only available in France this year, but this item is sure to be a hit among parents.  Who among us hasn’t felt the agony of a stray Lego underfoot? Hopefully our 2016 Wish List will be able to announce that they are available on our side of the pond.

Whether you are planning on battling the crowds on Black Friday, or going with the tech-friendly Cyber Monday, we hope we’ve given you a few new ideas.  Please share with us your own finds and suggestions!

 


Recognizing STEM Exemplars

December 8, 2014

Join us for a new blog series as we celebrate the programs recognized by the Student Impact Team of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.

Each finalist brought a display to highlight their program.

Each finalist brought a display to highlight their program.

This team was formed when student impact was identified as one of the top 3 priorities by the Hub’s Steering Committee.  Our team set out to identify and promote STEM activities and events in the Finger Lakes region that are engaging, exciting, and empowering for students. We created a S.M.A.R.T. Goal that we would “identify and recognize a minimum of 5 exemplary STEM initiatives in the region by September, 2014.”

In fall of 2013, an Action Team was formed to make this Goal a reality. A small group of dedicated people came together to analyze the tasks that we felt were necessary to accomplish. We decided that we would solicit applications from various STEM initiatives and then compare them with a rubric. One of the first challenges we faced was identifying what makes a STEM initiative “exemplary.” Each member conducted research regarding existing rubrics for STEM programs. We shared, met, discussed, and word-smithed the rubrics until we developed one that we felt represented our group’s vision. In addition, our group felt that a STEM initiative could not adequately be evaluated with a rubric based upon a paper application alone. We knew we needed to visit each of the finalist programs. For our first year, we decided to limit the scope of our goal to  programs that happen during the summer only.

After soliciting applications and determining finalists, we set off into the field to visit each of the STEM programs. What a treat that was! Each program had different strengths. Collectively, however, they represented a broad range of STEM programming happening in the Finger Lakes area.

2014-11-01 17.25.07

Teachers at the STANYS Conference browsing the displays

The Five Exemplary Summer STEM initiatives were recognized on November 1st, 2014 at a Science Teacher of New York State (STANYS) conference evening event held at the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Each Finalist was represented at the event and provided information about what is offered, how the program runs, how it is funded, and other details. This allowed the STEM Hub to share the Exemplary programs with the community of teachers from across New York State.

The Exemplary Summer STEM initiatives recognized in 2014 by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub are:

  • Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute from Hobart & William Smith Colleges
  • STEM Programs in Engineering Education from Vista Teach Instructional Services
  • Lake Ontario STEM Academy from the Sodus CSD and the Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES
  • Carter Street Recreation Center, “STEM Explosion” from the City of Rochester, Department of Recreation and Youth Services
  • Summer Fun Camp Program: Robotics from the Rochester Museum and Science Center
2014-11-01 17.24.27

Teachers had ample opportunity to ask questions about the programs and services

What’s ahead for the Action Team for Student Impact? We will feature a blog series this month celebrating our five exemplary programs.  Each program will be highlighted to give you more information on their program, along with what we saw that made them an exemplary program in our eyes.  In addition, as we celebrate the accomplishment of our goal, we will set new goals for our next program in 2015.

The experience of finding, recognizing, and holding up as examples various types of STEM programs has been inspirational. We hope that we have, in some way, encouraged others to engage in the development of STEM programming that will impact students positively.

The rubric that we developed, along with other information about the program  can be on the Finger Lakes STEM Hub website. Please feel free to use the rubric as a conversation starter,  for professional development or to evaluate an existing STEM program.

In addition, if you are interested in becoming more involved with the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Student Impact Action Team, or have any questions about this program, please contact me at mthomas@monroe2boces.org

Mary W. Thomas is the Assistant Director at the Elementary Science Program offered by Monroe #2 – Orleans BOCES.  She is an active member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee, as well as the Chair for the Student Impact Action Team.

 

 


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.


First Meeting of the WNY STEM Hub

January 23, 2014

Question:   How do you grow a new STEM Hub to over 5 times its embryonic size in just 7 weeks?

Answer:   You have help from a Mentor Hub and use the exponential power of “paying it forward” with every new introduction.

The Western New York region of 5 counties, bounded by such landmarks as Niagara Falls, Lake Erie and Allegany State Park, recently became the last region to plug into the Empire State STEM Learning Network. We began our establishment with stewardship from the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (COE). The COE hosted our first meeting on November 21, 2013 with a Founders Steering Committee of approximately 20 members.

Since that Founding Meeting, we have: grown our Steering Committee to over 80 members, established a Board of Champions of over 20 members, charged five Ad Hoc Groups to initiate tasks essential to developing our infrastructure, initiated an online Moodle Learning Site, adopted working Mission/Vision Statements and began our Strategic Planning. On January 9, 2014, 56 of our new members participated in the first joint Steering Committee-Board of Champions Meeting to network and discuss our opportunities for future action.

On hand at that January meeting were Sara Silverstone, Director of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, and Phil Ortiz, Coordinator of the Empire State STEM Learning Network. Sara has been an invaluable Mentor in supporting our first steps by providing guidance and allowing the WNY Hub to use resources, such as the Finger Lakes Hub Mission/Vision which became a model for our work in WNY. The successes of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub will continue to serve as examples and an inspiration for WNY. Phil’s support of our evolving Hub in WNY has been another catalyst for our growth by encouraging the Mentor Hub relationship, linking us to other Hubs in New York State and assuring the ongoing interest of SUNY.

WNY STEM Hub Photo  credit:  Cattaraugus/Allegany BOCES

WNY STEM Hub’s Initial Meeting
Photo credit: Cattaraugus/Allegany BOCES

With a membership of over 100 and growing, we feel that our opportunities are endless and anything may be possible. The possibility for “collective impact” for STEM learning in WNY is strong. We believe that interest in STEM and in our Hub’s work will continue to grow. We challenge our members to remember that networked organizations thrive when each new introduction is “paid forward” by introducing others to STEM learning and to the Hub.

We want to thank Sara Silverstone and the Finger Lakes STEM Hub for guiding us in our work. The WNY STEM Hub looks forward to collaborating and growing together with our Mentor Hub to the East of us!

Guest Blog written by:  Michelle Kavanaugh, Ed.D., Facilitator

WNY STEM Hub of the Empire State STEM Learning Network