Registration Open for Summer PD: Careers and Relevance

May 26, 2017

2016 Industry Tours

This summer we are hosting another session of our Professional Development Summer Institute focusing on Careers and Relevance in the STEM fields.

The institute is open to all Teachers, Administrators, and Counselors in both public and private schools. The institute will be held July 31st to August 4th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 at the Siemens Training Center at 50 Methodist Hill Drive, Rochester

Please visit our event page for full details.

New Summer PD: Careers and Relevance

April 29, 2016

Counselors! Teachers! Educators!

We have changed up the Summer Professional Development Institute offered by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub this year. More tours and hands-on field experiences, a bit less in-class time, less project-/problem-based learning emphasis (don’t worry! We will still cover the basics using tools from the Buck Institute for Education).

Career signCounselors, think about how you can tie real jobs and skills needed for those jobs to actual career paths students need to take The technical, two-year, hands-on certificate programs like Optical Systems Technology, Precision Machining in Optical Fabrication, or Solar Thermal Technology at Monroe Community College and Food Processing Technology at Genesee Community College to the traditional four-year programs like Optical Engineering at University of Rochester or Environmental Engineering at RIT or Biochemistry at Nazareth College. With industry tours, networking lunches with local professionals, and hands-on field explorations, you can see the local job market, hear the skills needed, and experience first-hand what is needed for students to succeed in the region. [Note: the above programs are local examples, not all will be touched upon in class!]

Teachers, you can see how the topics and skills you teach come to life in the real world, solving everyday local challenges all the way to working on international problems with tiny parts created right here in the region. You will become more familiar with career pathways, traditional and non-traditional, and hear from industry leaders what skills are important and just how our local region is taking the world by storm, creating all levels of jobs your students can easily fill.

So, sign up and come explore student engagement, project-/problem-based learning, 21st Century skills, career & college readiness, and network with local professionals to enhance your teaching and experiences for students.

Click here to see the full course description, and to access the registration link.

Betsy Ukeritis is the Inter-regional Environmental Educator at the NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation.  She is also an active member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub Steering Committee and the FL STEM Hub Summer PD Institute Committee

Photonics meeting to be held at RSMC

January 21, 2016

Photonics is an up and coming industry, especially in the Rochester Area.  The Finger Lakes STEM Hub would like to invite you to an exploratory meeting next week to learn more about photonics and other emerging industries.   The goal of the meeting is to introduce some of these technologies to the K-12 arena, and discuss what skills will need to be taught to prepare students for either research or advanced manufacturing positions in these fields.

We welcome a couple of guest speakers who are intimately involved in these industries, who both also have an educational role.

Dr. Michael Jackson is an Associate Professor and researcher at RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering focused on correlating material properties to electrical performance of solid state devices. His teaching responsibilities include device physics, E-M fields, optics, meteorology, thin film processing, and device processing courses. Mike is also the Electrical Engineering department’s Outreach Director, involved with dissemination of programs to the K-12, Community College, and Industrial communities.

Dr. Alexis Vogt is an Associate Professor and Endowed Chair of MCC’s Optical Systems Technology program. She has a strong background in the optics and photonics industries, having worked for Bausch & Lomb and Melles Griot prior to taking her adjunct role at MCC to a full time position. Alexis has been a visible face recently in taking the discussion around photonics to the public; check out her recent profile in the D&C.

This event is open to anyone who might be interested, so please share with your educators, counselors, administrators, and colleagues. Since space is limited in the Cunningham House Studio, please RSVP so we can make sure we have enough seating.

Meeting details:

Friday January 29 2:30pm at the RMSC Cunningham House Studio (map)

Please RSVP to Clement Chung:



Summer Institute Updates

July 14, 2015

As we gear up for another year of Summer Professional Development at the Finger Lakes STEM Hub, we wanted to highlight some of the work that was developed last summer.   To see the background of this program and why we feel it’s critical to integrate STEM education with project based learning (PBL), check out this article by STEM Hub member Bruce Capron, who explains how and why the Summer Institute was developed.

Brainstorming ideas

Brainstorming how to meet the needs of all students within a PBL lesson plan.

One of the key components of the Summer Institute is the development of PBL lesson plans. Our teachers brainstormed many different components of developing an effective lesson plan.  Key topics covered included:

  • Who can you get to join your team in preparing your PBL?
  • How can a PBL lesson focus on college and career readiness skills?
  • How can your PBL meet the needs of ALL students?
  • What roadblocks do you see?

Once they brainstormed these issues, they went to work developing their own lesson plans, with the goal of bringing them back to their home districts, as well as sharing them for teachers across our region to access.

A variety of lessons were developed, including:

  • Recycling Plant Waste
  • Lake Ontario Water Quality
  • Ecosystems
  • Squishy Circuits
  • Wetlands
  • Physics
  • Alternative Energy Solutions
  • Cayuga Lake Watershed
  • Earth Science – Geometry
  • The Science of the Small:  Nanotechnology and Coding
  • Greenhouse
  • Specific Heat and Heat Island Effect
  • Fuel Cells

The lessons are available on the STEM Hub website, click here to see them.

For 2015, we are continuing our work on PBL, with a focus on grades K-8.  Join us this year from August 10-15!   There are a few spots remaining, and it’s not too late to register.  A teacher stipend has also been added.

For more information on our upcoming 2015 Summer Institute check out this year’s program listing.

Industry Tour Series: Renewable Rochester

October 20, 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 Renewable Rochester.


Renewable Rochester is a local business that provides solar energy for businesses, private homes, farms and schools.  It’s building complex in Webster is powered by hundreds of solar panels.  The building complex also includes “Vital Signs” and “Scott’s Auto Fix-It” that reap the rewards of the solar panels.  Scott (of Scott’s Fix-It) has seen approximately 50% reduction in their large electric bill.

The Renewable Energy Trailer.  Part of Renewable Rochester’s solar schools program

The Renewable Energy Trailer. Part of Renewable Rochester’s solar schools program

Renewable Rochester also provides portable solar energy kits of varying sizes for classrooms. They are also working with BOCES to create kits that can be loaned out to participating districts. Solar products are on hand and can also be custom designed according to need.  Real time solar data is available on their website.

Educators interested in more information about Renewable Rochester and the programs they offer can visit their website, contact Shawn Lessord by email, or call the office at 585-671-1301

Patti Saucke is a teacher at Churchville Chili Central School District.   She participated in the Summer STEM Teaching Institute offered by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.

Industry Tour Series: Day Automation

October 3, 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 Day Automation.  

Day Automation Office BuildingDay Automation provides comprehensive HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), Security/Access and Lighting control solutions to school districts, colleges, hospitals and many other businesses across the Northeast.  Their systems are technologically monitored, producing data to help customers minimize energy consumption and maximize safety.

The thirty-seven year old company is still privately run.  James Day and Jeff Day, owner-managers, are welcoming and eager to show educators the way their systems work at their facilities or by coming to classrooms.  They stress the qualities of a successful employee: motivated, a self-starter, solution oriented and the ability to make things move the way they need to.  Jobs range from being in the field, building and installing systems to software design to engineering solutions. They focus on providing satisfying, prompt customer service.  Day Automation has a highly professional, problem solving, consumer focused, friendly environment.

35 Years of customer service. We deliver intelligent, integrated HVAC, Access Control, Intrusion Detection, Video Surveillance, and Utility Metering solutions second-to-none. We want you as a customer for life!

For more information, please visit their website.

Tour 1Alice Lombardo is a 6th grade teacher at the Enrico Fermi School 17, 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.

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.

Why Integrate STEM and Project Based Learning?

March 19, 2014
Looking how to put all the STEM pieces together in the classroom?  Check our our new summer professional development program.

Looking how to put all the STEM pieces together in the classroom? The STEM Hub’s Summer Institute will show you how!

Educating students to become career and college ready requires not only providing students with core learning and 21st century skills, but also requires motivating students to delve deeply into the material, explore the material from different perspectives, and gain fluency in applying the material to new problems.

Research[1] shows that the key ingredients in generating student motivation are:

1. Having students believing that the lessons are purposeful (i.e., relevant and social)
2. Having elements of self-determination embedded in the learning (problem or project base learning)
3. Having an expectation of success (proximal difficulty and scaffolding)

The STEM Hub Summer Institute is designed to help teachers build on these ideas to develop lessons that support advanced learning. Critical to the institute’s program is to connect teachers through focused industry tours with engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and professionals that use the material a teacher wants to include in their lessons in real life, meaningful ways. In addition, the summer institute is also committed to bringing together teams of experts in curriculum writing, design of assessments, use of technology, and integration of scientific instrumentation into the lessons.

During the week of August 11, the Summer STEM Institute will bring together a critical mass of industry and instructional resources to help teachers move their instruction to new levels. The institute will be a success if teachers try new STEM learning in their classrooms, share their experiences with other teachers, and ultimately, if they excite and engage their students in STEM learning.
Information and applications can be found here.  Applications are due March 31, 2014.

[1] Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation | Video on,

Guest blog submitted by:

Dr. Bruce Capron
School Business Official
Livonia Central School
Director of Finance
Honeoye Falls – Lima Central School

Would you like to be a guest blog contributor?  Please contact the STEM blog: