STEM on the Big Screen: Big Hero 6

November 21, 2014
In theaters now:  Big Hero 6

In theaters now: Big Hero 6

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, check out the newest release from Walt Disney Animation Studios: Big Hero 6.

Set in the future in a fictional town called San Fransokyo, it’s a film about kids, robots, and technology.

In this STEM-inspired film, Superheros go high-tech, making the storyline appealing to kids that love the STEM fields, while also captivating others who may have yet to discover how cool science and technology can be.

Rated PG, this film has a running time of 102 minutes.  I took a group of 3 kids: ages 7, 9 and 10.  They all loved it!  If you are wondering if it’s right for your child, check out the parent reviews at Common Sense Media for an in-depth look at the issues that come up in the film.

The 6 Superheros:  Click here to see the full trailer

 

 

 

 


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


Summertime STEM: Science

July 8, 2014

Child’s play… and so much more

Albert Einstein once said “Play is the highest form of research.”  Summer vacation is a fantastic opportunity for encouraging all sorts of exploration and research through play.  Children love experimenting, and these experiments teach them about the scientific method and different scientific principles, all while having a great time.

Bubbles are a favorite summertime activity for kids of all ages.  “Bubbles not only involve children in learning, but they are fun, easy to use, and ever-changing. In addition, many science processes such as, investigation, discovery, experimentation, observation, definition, comparison, and classification can be learned simply by playing with bubbles.” (Angie Dorrell, M.A.)*

A bucketful of science just waiting to be explored!

Summertime and water play go hand in hand.  Get them out, get them wet, and see what happens.   Science Concepts Young Children Learn Through Water Play is a detailed primer in why this is a great avenue for science discovery and gives many suggestions for getting started!

Safe Kids.org provides important safety resources for parents

Safe Kids.org provides important safety resources for parents

Safety First:  Before starting water play, it’s a great time to review water safety tips.

Looking for activities that are already planned and will get you out of the house?  Check out the new Summer Science Festivals being offered by the Rochester Museum and Science Center.  Running Fridays and Saturdays through the end of August, the Festivals are kicked off this weekend with the topic of Hometown Heros.  In addition to the weekend Festivals, there are Live Science Performances during the week as well.  Auditorium shows are daily at 1 and 3 pm, Science Encounters are daily at 11:30am, 12:30pm and 1:30pm, and the Electricity Theater is daily at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm.

Rainbow Slime from learnplayimagine.com

Rainbow Slime from learnplayimagine.com

If you are looking for science activities and experiments to replicate at home, check out howtosmile.org for an amazing list of activities.  They are sorted by topic, and even have a fun STEM Camp 2014  idea list to try at home.  Learning 4 Kids also has a very user-friendly list of activities designed to encourage learning science through play. We also found this fabulous, colorful Rainbow Slime recipe that the kids can’t wait to try.

“A leading researcher in the field of cognitive development says when children pretend, they’re not just being silly – they’re doing science.”  Read more here from Alison Gopnik at Smithsonian Magazine.  So let them be silly, and discover science in the process!

What is your family doing this summer that involves science?  We’d love to hear from you!  If you have a budding scientist at home that wants to share what they’ve been doing, have them contact us for inclusion in other Summertime STEM posts.

 

 

photo credit:  Soap Bubbles, Water Balloons.  *Excerpt from: :  Bubble, Bubble, Pop!  Exploring the Magic of Bubbles by Angie Dorrell, M.A.

 


Summertime STEM: Summer Camps

June 9, 2014

Summer Vacation is right around the corner!

Summer vacation is right around the corner!  Our region is filled with opportunities to engage in STEM learning over the summer.  Our Summertime STEM Series of blogs is going to look at a wide range of activities, for kids of all ages and abilities.

In this first installment, we’re going to focus on Summer Camps. Summer Camps are a great way to get immersed in a specific theme or subject. They can range from a couple of days to several weeks, and from an hour or two a day to full day programs, with residential camps an option as well.  Chances are, whatever you are looking for, there is a camp for that!  Summer camp is a summer highlight for many families, so take a look now to see if there’s something that appeals to you.  If you haven’t already, check out our School Break Camps page for a listing of many different kinds of camps in our area.  We’ve tried lot list as many camps in our area that we could find, in a variety of age and price ranges.

Do you have information on a STEM camp that you don’t see listed?  Please share with us and we’d be happy to add it to our listing.

Summer camps are a great way to get activities in without having to do all the planning yourself.  Registrations are well underway, so sign up soon if you are interested.


Dr. Silverstone Goes To Washington

May 28, 2014

Bill Nye at USA Science and Engineering festival

This spring, I have had the privilege of attending two major STEM events in Washington, DC: The US News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference and the USA Science and Engineering Festival.

The first conference was a gathering of business and education leaders. It included a session organized by STEMx, the 19-state national coalition that is sponosred by Battelle. STEMx also held a reception so that members could get to know our counterparts from other states. While there I met up with other NYS STEM Hub leaders and we discussed the possibility of holding a statewide convening here in the Finger Lakes next fall.

The second event was huge free science fair for kids of all ages. Bill Nye the Science guy was there, as was Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST Robotics. The event was huge, covering two floors of the gigantic convention center, which stretches over four city blocks.

Sara presenting at the Biodrill Exhibit

Dr. Silverstone  presenting at the Biodrill Exhibit

Mostly I attended not to sit in on the sessions, but as an exhibitor for a small educational start-up, BioDrill. As a vendor, I got to hold a series of conversations with many attendees and spent time visiting the other exhibitors. One such exhibitor was the National Science Foundation, where I ran into some old friends.

hands on exhibit: holding a human brain

In addition to showing off our science education kits and equipment, we gave hands-on demos on creating batteries from fruit and potatoes. It was rewarding to see the parents reveling in teaching their kids, or learning along with them, how to make a circuit. Seeing people of all ages light up with a smile at seeing as tiny little LED light being powered from fruit was a lot of fun. Several parents recalled doing this experiment (often it was the “Potato Clock” variation) and were thrilled to share it with their kids.

Some of the exhibits featured opportunities for kids and parents to experience new things for the first time together, such as holding an actual human brain.

Although it was as loud, busy and exhausting as Disney World, the Science and Engineering festival is highly recommended for parents who want to share their enthusiasm for science and engineering with their families. There was fun for all ages and it is all free. We are fortunate to have our own Imagine RIT right here in Rochester, but if you are looking for a real adventure and something very special to do in Washington DC, this is a great event.

Sara Silverstone is President of Brockport Research Institute, Vice-President of Research and Development at BioDrill Technical Solutions and Director of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub. In her spare time, she plays ice hockey.


Exciting new Incentive Program for NYS STEM Students

May 14, 2014

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced an exciting new Incentive Program for college-bound STEM students across New York State.graphic header

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program, which will encourage the best and brightest high school students to pursue high-demand, high-tech careers and build their future in New York. The program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship to the top 10% of students in every New York high school if they major in a STEM field and work in a STEM job in New York State for five years after graduation.  (May 6, 2014)

There are several eligibility criteria, such as an applicant must:

  • Be a NYS resident
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be enrolled full time at a SUNY or CUNY college beginning with the fall term following his or her high school graduation
  • Be ranked in the top 10% of his/her high school graduating class of a NYS high school
  • Be matriculated in an undergraduate program leading to a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics at a SUNY or CUNY college
  • Earn a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher each term after the first semester
  • Execute a service contract agreeing to reside and work in NYS for five years in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. View the terms and conditions of the service contract
  • Not be in default on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or repayment of any state award
  • Be in compliance with the terms of any service condition imposed by a state award

For more information about this incentive program, please visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website.  You’ll find all the details you need, including how to apply, and special details and restrictions.


High Tech Night at MCC

March 31, 2014

Last week we attended the High Tech Night at MCC.  This Annual event is a great opportunity for students interested in Engineering and other high-tech fields to take a look at some local companies and see what they have to offer.  I attended with my high school freshman, who is a current participant in our high school’s Project Lead the Way program.  He was surprised at the many different ways companies used Engineers, and how different the jobs looked depending on what the company’s focus was.  It was eye opening to see the many opportunities there are in the Engineering and Technical fields.

One of the hands on demonstrations - plastic injection molding

One of the hands on demonstrations: plastic injection molding

Our region has many high-tech companies, and many of them were on-site to showcase who they are and what they do.  There were several booths that had video presentations, they all had staff willing to answer questions, and many of them had a hands-on component.  The hands-on displays were a huge hit, as evidenced by the crowds at these stations as teens lined up to participate.  We were able to see how contact lenses are made and the various stages they go through before being delivered to the consumer, how a 3-D printer works, and even learned how to operate a plastic injection mold to make a small screwdriver.

The RIT Racing Team's display was a big hit!

The RIT Racing Team’s display was a big hit!

In addition to the company displays, there were several colleges represented that had information on their Technology and Engineering programs.  MCC had multiple tables showcasing the many different options they currently offer, and there were also tables from Syracuse University and Rochester Institute of Technology.  RIT brought their student-made race car from their racing team, and that was a huge draw as well.

Group tours of MCC’s labs and buildings were also offered for anyone that wanted a close-up look at the facilities being used in their programs.  Between the tours and the displays, there were many ways to explore the field in an engaging manner, and my high-schooler left with a better grasp of what career paths could be in his future if he wanted to continue along the engineering path.

The Sky Op, a remote-controlled aerial videocamera

The Sky Op

My son’s favorite display was from a local company called SkyOp.  They build unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are basically a remote-controlled mini helicopter, that carries a video camera.  The staff were very engaging and were great at answering all the questions my son had about how long the battery life is (about 20 minutes), how much they cost (depends on size) and how durable they are (quite, and we got several stories of accidental landings and how well they fared).

The presenters were all very engaging and asked the students about themselves, what they wanted to study, and offered tips on course selection (take math and science, and lots of it!) as well as offering some information on internships and entry-level job opportunities.

If you have a student interested in the high tech fields, this is a great opportunity to learn more about what is available locally and to see recent developments in the field.  I would highly recommend going.  This event is run annually at MCC in the early Spring.