The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a cool new video featuring the Billion Oyster Project (BOP) and Pace University! The Billion Oyster Project is a community of students, teachers, scientists, volunteers, businesses, and schools. Its goal? Getting down and dirty to conduct research and restore the New York Harbor back to its oyster-inhabited glory. With a $5 million grant from the NSF, the project leaders hope to inspire students, specifically middle school students, to help drive the restoration.
The NSF video features our very own professor Lauren Birney, the director of Pace University’s STEM Collaboratory. “We’re creating this smart and connected community here in New York City, but then allowing that to grow into other communities,” Birney said. She hopes to build the Billion Oyster Project by continuing to target local middle schools in low-income neighborhoods where students are underrepresented in STEM fields.
Participants aren’t just making new friends, they’re also engaging in STEM activities while restoring the ecosystem in their own backyard! Hands on work teaches students how to measure oysters, test water samples, and other cool activities that keep them active and constantly contributing. The Billion Oyster Project’s website keeps track of teachers, students and volunteers’ work with an interactive map.
On October 20th, the Westchester County Association (WCA) will be recognizing five women for their extraordinary efforts in STEM fields as part of their third annual “Women in Tech” awards. One of these women happens to be our very own, Professor Jean Coppola!
The WCA started this event in 2014 in order to recognize women for their remarkable contributions and achievements while working in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM).
Professor Coppola will be recognized as an award-winning educator, author and professor of gerontechnology at Pace University.
“We are delighted at this recognition of Dr. Jean Coppola’s work,” said Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill. “Through her research into healthcare IT in general and gerontechnology specifically, Jean has made great contributions to the discipline and, through this work, has made vital contributions to the Westchester County community. Her work has enabled hundreds of Pace University students to become engaged with their neighbors in life saving ways and we all benefit from this work.”
Coppola has won numerous national awards for her extensive research and work with the effects of technology on the quality of life for older adults, including attitudes towards aging and cognitive functioning.
The STEM Collaboratory NYC held a fantastic event on June 8th involving dinner, panel discussions, and networking. The event, held at Pace University’s Schimmel Theater, focused on law and technology’s place in restoration, in particular the NY harbor restoration. The Seidenberg School is close to the Billion Oyster Project, which aims to restore the NY harbor back to its previous oyster-inhabited glory, and Billion Oyster Project co-founder, Murray Fisher, spoke on one of the panels.
After enjoying a buffet-style dinner of sandwiches, pastries, and – of course – oysters, attendees moved into the auditorium and were welcomed by Pace Provost, Uday Sukhatme, who made the opening remarks before passing the mic to Dr. Jonathan Hill, the Interim Dean of Seidenberg.
“This is a powerhouse of people who have innovative ideas about how to teach STEM in schools,” Dr. Hill said, before the first panel began.
The Environmental Law and Policy panel included Murray Fisher, Steve Kass, Sean Dixon, and Andrea Leshak, and was moderated by John Cronin. The panel discussed environmental restoration, with Sean Dixon – who teaches Oceans and Coastal Law here at Pace – pointing out that “the biggest thing with oysters in NYC is how big an opportunity they are.” The restoration of the harbor to a point where oysters can once again populate the water means cleaner water for other things.
The second panel invited top young entrepreneurs from the NY tech scene to present and discuss their projects. Among participants were Olga Bogomolova and Julie Gauthier, two Seidenberg students (as well as staff/professors!) who created coding app Codapillar together. Other panelists included the talented Delali Dzirasa and Carson Chodos, with the DOE’s Director of Technology and Engineering (Teaching and Learning Division), Nancy Woods, moderating.
Finally, Ben Bostick, Ray Sombrotto and Bob Newton took to the stage to discuss “Restoration Science – A Scientific Perspective.” They discussed the restoration of the NY harbor in a very optimistic light, with Ray explaining that “the focus on keystone species like oysters helps with restoration.”
“If you’re going to talk about restoration, you may as well shoot high,” he said.
The evening concluded with a raffle, where lucky several attendees won gift cards.
Thanks go out to Lauren Birney, Jonathan Hill, Brian Evans, Pace University and the NSF for making such a wonderful evening possible!
On Saturday, December 12, 2015, a large crowd descended on Pace University’s Pleasantville campus for Pace University’s STEM Showcase Day, an event that celebrated Pace’s Women in Technology initiative and the success of its STEM Workshop for high school female students. Appropriately called SWAG, “STEM Women Achieve Greatness,” this Workshop offered a rigorous hands-on approach to design and problem solving using engineering and programming tools to create water robots. The SWAG Workshop was an incredible opportunity made possible through the generosity of GE Capital, whom Pace is proud to have as a partner in our efforts in advancing girls and women in STEM.
Over the course of the Fall semester, 30 high school girls visited Pace on Saturdays to learn how to build and program (using Arduino) a SeaPerch Water Robot capable of taking temperature readings underwater.
Working diligently during these Saturday sessions, and under the guidance of Seidenberg School faculty and staff, the 30 young women made incredible accomplishments that could go a long way in kickstarting their education and careers in STEM.
The showcase began with an introduction by Seidenberg’s Interim Dean, Dr. Jonathan Hill, and followed by welcoming remarks by GE Capital’s CIO, Julie Stansbury. . Attending guests – including many proud parents – viewed video highlights of the journey and successes of the SWAG participants over the past semester (watch it now). Then it was onto SWAG group presentations! Each team of girls got on stage and talked about their experience building a fully functioning underwater robot, discussing their triumphs and disappointments both, and it was clear that the workshops had been a rewarding experience that incorporated new friendship connections into the STEM education. Afterwards, Pace students demonstrated the continuation of hands-on learning in a college environment through group presentations of STEM-based projects, which is part of Pace’s Capstone program.
The festivities continued with a panel discussion featuring female technology leaders and executives in the technology sector. The panel was moderated by VIP and CIO of Pace University Clare van den Blink, and was comprised of Ursuline Foley, CIO Corp. & Enterprise Enablement at XL Catlin; Margaret Honey, President & CEO of the New York Hall of Science; Nasrin Rezai, CIO at GE Capital; and Judy Spitz, CIO at Verizon. The panelists spoke of their experiences and shared profound wisdom sure to be beneficial to the talented high schoolers in the room.
To close out the celebration, Dean Hill welcomed Seidenberg School founder, Dr. Susan Merritt, to the stage. Susan presented each of the girls with a medal for successfully completing the STEM Women Achieve Greatness workshop series here at Pace University.
A big thank you to all of the Pace faculty and staff who made this event possible: Ms. Andreea Cotoranu, Dr. Pauline Mosley, Dr. Matt Ganis, visiting Instructor Ms. Dawn Tucker, Dr. Nancy Hale, Dr. David Sachs, Dr. Susan Feather-Gannon, Dr. Li-Chiou Chen, Dr. Jean Coppola, Dr. Mary Courtney, Deth Sao, Elizabeth Foster, Nancy Treuer, and Susan Downey. A Special Thanks to Mary Ann Errante from Special Events and Lenny Craig from Buildings and Grounds.
We would like to heartily congratulate each of the 30 girls and sincerely hope we see you again when it’s time for you to attend college!
Every summer for the past 10 years, Seidenberg has hand-selected some of the highest-achieving high school students across the nation to be a part of the Seidenberg Summer Scholars Experience (SSSE). SSSE brings these scholars together on our campus in New York City for a week of mobile hacking that will prepare the scholars for a bright future in computer programming. The camp includes an intensive hackathon that challenges their skills in team work, ideation, programming, execution, and – dauntingly for some – presenting and displaying each step of their process to their peers and mentors. For students preparing for their final year of high school, it’s a big and exciting undertaking for the summer.
What is even more enriching in the Scholar Experience is that each summer we challenge the scholars to create an application that has the potential to help a cause. In some years this has been a call for apps that augment STEM education; in other years we focused on Cyber Security and User Experience. This year, we asked the scholars to create an app around the Billion Oyster Project, a project which Seidenberg has become proudly affiliated with over the past year through a generous grant awarded to the school by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Of course, along with the challenge of hacking for multiple hours a day, the Scholars Experience is always balanced with a collection of the best adventures in New York City. The scholars get a curated tour of the tech scene, including tours of Google and Microsoft’s headquarters. They also enjoy intimate visits to startups like AppFigures, which have been pioneered by Summer Scholars of the past, as well as Seidenberg alumni. Then, just to be absolutely certain that this experience is unforgettable, the Scholars are also treated to performances like Fuerza Bruta and some of the delicious cuisine that this city has to offer.
Not only are mentors and professors shocked every year by what these scholars can accomplish in just a week, but the scholars themselves surprised even themselves with their skills! One of our scholars from Staten Island, Nicole Budzinski (top right), expressed that her own abilities surprised her, as she hadn’t taken on a project quite like this before. On the experience overall, Amanda Zeitlin and Nicole Feygin (top left and bottom right) both laughingly agreed that they were surprised to have found such good friends at “nerd camp.” With a week’s worth of days filled with fun, vigor, and excitement, the scholars are able to form long-lasting friendships with their team mates from across the States. On top of that, participants will always have a direct connection to the heart of NYC through their mentors and professors at Seidenberg.
For more information on this year’s scholars, take a look at our video introducing each scholar! Plus, this year we’ve made daily videos that can be found on our YouTube channel.
(Pictured from top: Amanda Zeitlin from NY, Nicole Budzinski from NY, Brandan Ingram from OK, Beck Fuga from PA, Nicole Feygin from MI, and Joe Redling-Pace from NJ. Photography credit belongs to Noura Boustany Jost).
We just had an eventful and exciting weekend here at Seidenberg! The much anticipated two-day STEM conference has now come and gone, but in its wake remains many new things to discuss, mobile apps to use, plants to tend to, and ZOOBs to play with.
The two-day event consisted of a VIP luncheon, an evening mixer, and a collaboratory conference. The main topics discussed included technology’s role in educational settings, the importance of approaching technology critically, and how computing should be interdisciplinary but also stand as a full, separate subject.
Our keynote speaker was PhD Media Theorist, Author, and Codecademy’s Evangelist, Douglas Rushkoff. Well-spoken, energetic, and clearly passionate about the day’s topic, Rushkoff had a lot to say about the relationship between technology and education from its past to its trajectory. A main point in his discussion was how programming should be approached as literacy. Students should be as well-rounded in computing as they are expected to be in other subjects. As he mentions in his book Program or Be Programmed, it is not okay to be a mere passenger in the technological world; students should be focused on learning less about basic skills in user-oriented program packages, such as Microsoft Office, and more about the programming skills that give us those packages in the first place. Rushkoff stated that he prefers to approach computing as a liberal art and a science–a type of engineering that he likened to cooking. Cooking is hugely scientific. The chemistry of the elements and how they blend is essential to the task yet cooking can be creative and artful and requires the capacity to multitask as well.
Rushkoff is also a big advocate for experiential education, as described by a mantra, “see one, do one, teach one,” which is part of Codecademy’s teaching process.
When Rushkoff asked the audience for feedback, many of the teachers in the crowd (not all of whom come from a computing or STEM subject) agreed with his stance on the matter. The questions that arose were those of what to do next. One teacher asked how to find a suitable entry point when teaching computing, to which Rushkoff responded that questioning, comparison, and critique are the first steps of learning. To begin, students must approach programming as a liberal art, then they may delve deeper into technical learning.
With that much said, Rushkoff bid the conference farewell and Michael Joaquin Grey, an artist and inventor, stepped up to show everyone his invention: ZOOBs. Disguised as a toy for kids, like Legos or Tinkertoys, ZOOBs are building blocks for all kinds of structures. The unique thing about them is that they are modeled after anatomical and naturally occurring joints and connectors, so the structures that form are mobile and can be close to actual anatomies. Grey presented to the audience a model of a DNA helix that was flexible. From that model, one could see how the DNA can wrap up into different shapes, as it does in living cells. There are five different pieces, which are five different colors, just as there are five vowels, five fingers, five base pairs, five joints. ‘ZOOB’ itself is an acronym for Zoology, Ontology, Ontogeny, and Botany. Grey is now working on projects related to sensory integration issues and computational cinema.
After everyone got their share of playtime with the all-too-addictive ZOOBs, students, professors, and teachers who have been working on their own mobile apps presented their respective programs to the rest of the group. Each app was one geared towards educating and could eventually be used in a classroom setting. The apps, created from scratch, ranged from chemistry rummy to an app for measurements in biology to an app that hosts a virtual patient.
To open back up to the topic of the day, there was a panel discussion that continued off of Douglas Rushkoff’s conversation. The panel featured Steve Ettlinger, author of Twinkie, Deconstructed, Brian Evans and Tom Lynch, both of whom are professors in the School of Education here at Pace, Lou Lahana, a teacher at The Island School, and PhD Meghan Groome, the Executive Director of Education & Public Programs at New York Academy of Science. The moderator was Ben Esner, Director of K-12 STEM Education at Polytechnic Institute at New York University. The discussion flowed through the vision for STEM Education, to techniques and examples in curricula, to publicizing it all to generate a larger discussion across the globe. Audience members were also able to add their two-cents when the time came. One teacher in particular expressed her views that teachers in Pace as well as teachers in any other institute should be able to access curated advice on technology, since no one will have to time to keep up with technology as new devices appear while obtaining the necessary skill levels to teach with each new device. Instead, this teacher hoped that a forum would open up either online or in the form of an association that will produce reputable advice on which technologies are the best in a classroom environment and when it is necessary to update.