New York State School Boards Association and SUNY Poly Honor Three New York School Districts for Their STEM-Focused Educational Programs
“Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Award winners offer innovative programs
that can be easily recreated in other schools to foster interest in high-tech learning
Albany, NY – As part of the 6th annual “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Awards presented by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), three school districts from different New York State regions have each been selected to receive $5,000 prizes. The goal of the award is to honor and promote new educational approaches to science, technology, engineering, and math-related (STEM) programs in public schools.
“SUNY Poly is proud to support the ‘Be the Change for Kids’ Innovation Awards in order to empower students in areas that can enhance scientific exploration and lead them toward rewarding STEM-focused careers,” said SUNY Poly Provost Dr. William Durgin. “SUNY Poly is excited to work with the New York State School Boards Association as part of this program that honors schools from around New York State by starting the important process of preparing students for in-demand jobs in a fun way.”
“The programs that are being honored showcase how our schools are providing young students with an applied education, setting the stage for success when they decide to pursue high-tech jobs in the future. It is also significant that other school districts can easily adopt these programs as a model for hands-on STEM learning, with essentially little to no impact to their budgets. This is a wonderfully important approach to giving students the exciting STEM-based knowledge that will serve them well for the rest of their lives, and it is an easy lift for schools as they look for creative ways to continue providing an excellent education,” said New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.
A record 50 schools from across the state were nominated to win a “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Award. A team of nine SUNY Poly faculty and staff members selected the three winning programs that were chosen based on their ability to be easily reproduced in other school districts. Judges noted that the winning ideas also promote student curiosity and help them to gain confidence and understand that learning often involves making errors before gaining the skills that they will need for exciting STEM-based careers.
The winning districts, in alphabetical order, are:
- Bloomfield Central School District for the “Bloomfield Elementary Makerspace,” in which 2nd and 3rd grade students invent and build new games, test Rube Goldberg machines, construct bridges, and make marble runs that cover the hallways—all before 9:00 am. During lunch, 4th grade students constructed catapults. This program encourages all students to become creative problem solvers and make great inventions.
- Marlboro Central School District for the “6th Grade STEAM Program,” in which students learn to organize with math and communicate their research as scientists by using technology to understand global connections and applications to the arts. Students develop the necessary skills to be innovators in a growing variety of careers.
- North Syracuse Central Schools for the “Exploring Computer Science” program, in which the Gillette Road Middle School’s Exploring Computer Science Club brings a diverse group of students together for 10 sessions to complete tasks using Scratch and Sphero SPRK Robots, which connect to apps and encourage students to learn basic programming, in addition to understanding that making mistakes leads to learning as they think critically and collaborate to solve the problems they encounter.
“We are once again truly inspired by the winning STEM-centered projects, which highlight the fact that New York State’s schools are providing targeted programs that can help students thrive in this fast-changing, complex world,” said NYSSBA President Susan Bergtraum. “With programs that can be easily replicated by other schools, this initiative is a valuable way for a growing number of students to gain the know-how they will need, thereby strengthening our state’s education-to-career pipeline.”
In addition to the awards, the winning districts’ faculty and staff were able to tour SUNY Poly’s Albany NanoTech Complex. NYSSBA and SUNY Poly created the “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Awards in 2012 to honor engaging, STEM-based local school programs that strengthen 21st century career skills in fields such as nanotechnology, which are playing an important role in New York State’s high-tech economy.