On May 12, 2014, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) members Michelle Messenger and Adriana Maldonado celebrated a year’s worth of hard work and dedication to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to local youth by hosting a science fair at NYIT’s Manhattan campus. The fair featured 16 young scientists from the Renaissance School of the Arts in Harlem who were eager to present their work and explain their experiments to NYIT student, staff, and faculty judges. As part of NYIT SWE’s ongoing partnership with Citizen Schools, Messenger and Maldonado have spent one day a week at Renaissance School teaching 6th grade students all about STEM—from LEGO Robotics to lemon batteries—you name it, they covered it. Their work with Citizen Schools serves to extend the children’s school day, all while enriching their education with hands-on knowledge about STEM topics.
The apprentices at the May 12 science fair showcased their ability to create basic electricity generators using common household objects such as cardboard boxes, magnets, and metal wire. Their generators were able to light up LEDs without the aid of any batteries or other sources of power. The 6th graders, who expressed excitement about being able to create such gadgets on their own, impressed NYIT engineering students with their ability to describe the fundamental principles of electricity that they learned under Maldonado and Messenger’s fun and informative classroom leadership.
In addition to teaching the students about the basics of electricity and engineering, Maldonado and Messenger covered a variety of STEM topics to get their apprentices excited about science. During the fall semester, they lead workshops for the students on LEGO Robotics and carbon footprint reduction, and encouraged the kids to think critically about how technology and scientific knowledge can make positive impacts on society. It was a fulfilling experience for both women. Said Messinger, “It was really cool to see the kids learning and absorbing the information. I would definitely do this program again.”
Citizen Schools is a not-for-profit organization that partners with middle schools across the U.S. to expand the learning day for children in low-income or underperforming school districts.
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