Pictured: New York Tech’s STEAMed Van will make regular visits to Freeport Consortium schools to bring more hands-on STEM experiences to teachers and students.
New York Institute of Technology will work with school districts across Nassau County on teacher training initiatives that were recently granted more than $3.75 million in funding by New York State Department of Education (NYSED)’s Smart Start Grant Program. The program aims to enhance teachers’ ability to spark STEM enthusiasm and impart skills among younger students, especially those who belong to groups underrepresented in STEM fields.
The two programs culminate work that Assistant Professor and Department of Education Chair Robert Feirsen, Ed.D., and Professor Stan Silverman, M.S., have been doing since 2019 to help school districts plan professional development for K-8 teachers. The NYSED grants will fund the programs—which seek to train more than 600 teachers to engage young learners in science and technology and put more students on the path to high-tech careers—through 2026.
One of the two programs, led by Nassau BOCES called “Students Soar with STEM Success” (4S), received a grant of $2.5 million for the next five years. About 40 percent of students at 4S schools are economically disadvantaged, and have significant numbers of students with disabilities or are learning English as a second language.
A second grant of $1.25 million was awarded to the Freeport Public Schools Consortium, working with Silverman and other New York Tech experts. This program targets 22 schools in three districts. Almost all have a higher-than-average percentage of minorities underrepresented in STEM; free and reduced school lunch eligible students; and students who are learning English as a second language.
More than 100 teachers participating in the Freeport Public Schools Consortium will receive 20 face-to-face hours of professional development in teaching, with at least eight hours of coaching and modeling in the classroom.
To bring more hands-on STEM experiences to teachers and students, New York Tech’s STEAMed Van will make regular visits to Freeport Consortium schools. (STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math; “ed” is for education.) Bearing an image of Jim Davis’s famous Garfield the Cat, the van is a “traveling computer lab” equipped with the latest educational technologies.
“Students in these districts would greatly benefit from the additional training and expanded opportunities this program offers as they prepare for the rigor required to study advanced science and math,” said Silverman. “The Long Island Regional Economic Council noted in October 2019 that biotechnology and life sciences will be growth industries in years to come. By training teachers and improving STEM instruction, we’re helping students lay a solid foundation in STEM. In years to come, they will have a real chance to prepare them for high-level STEM-based jobs.”
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