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Dec 10 2012

NYIT Student-Engineers Teach STEM to Harlem Children


Manhattan, N.Y.  (December 10, 2012) – New York Institute of Technology students taught their younger counterparts at a Manhattan elementary school to think like professional engineers this fall in a successful partnership that brought the university freshmen into the classrooms of PS 241.

The Harlem school, known as the STEM Institute, opened its doors to 22 NYIT students who enrolled in a Career Discovery course in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. With assistance from the School of Education and Office of Career Services, the course included a hands-on service-learning component. The NYIT students visited PS241 each week to assist with lessons in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for grades K-5, troubleshoot the school’s technology problems, and document the semester’s work in a video.

A panel of students and representatives from PS241 celebrated the partnership at NYIT Auditorium on Broadway yesterday, which hosted the entire elementary school student body and its faculty.

“It makes you feel like you’re a role model for these kids,” said Rhia Joseph, who helped younger students build floating canoes out of clay. “It was very rewarding to go into the classroom and influence kids.”

Joseph later added that she gained a newfound respect for elementary school teachers.

“Throughout the week, we would challenge the kids to think like engineers – that’s what we do,” said Preston Volman, another classroom team member, who noted that he was personally challenged with the “free form” aspect of solving problems at the school by working on numerous approaches to solutions.

As the classroom team provided hands-on assistance with lessons, much to the delight of the younger students, another NYIT team tackled problems with the school’s technology infrastructure. Led by Mahmoud Saleh, they helped update software, reconfigure networks, and improve printers and laptop efficiency. Saleh has been invited to return to the school as an intern.

Ellen Darensbourg, who coordinated the program for PS 241, said the teachers learned important lessons while working with the NYIT student-engineers.

“Part of the problem with the teacher is that you think you have to know everything,” she said.  “We don’t have to know all the answers. As long as we can facilitate the students working through it, we can learn together or let our students teach us. Even as an engineer, you don’t always enter into a design knowing how to do it.”

The event was covered by WNYC radio, which posted a story on its blog.

PS 241 leaders said they hoped the partnership could continue. One typically stoic child even cried on the last day of the NYIT students’ visits, according to the engineering lab teacher. But the emotional connection to the partnership wasn’t confined to the children.

“Youth is the future,” said Renne Avalos, who helped lead the media team. “This project definitely touched my heart.”


About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 92,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit
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