SUNY Poly and NYS School Boards Association Partner to Honor Top Three New York School Districts’ STEM-Based Educational Programs

SUNY Poly and NYS School Boards Association Partner to Honor Top Three New York School Districts’ STEM-Based Educational Programs

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 16:30
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SUNY Poly and New York State School Boards Association Partner to Honor Top Three New York School Districts’ STEM-Based Educational Programs

“Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Award winners singled out for innovative, easily replicable programs that encourage critical 21 st century skills


Albany, NY – As part of the 5th 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 across New York State have been selected to each receive a $5,000 prize which aims to honor and promote exciting approaches to science, technology, engineering, and math-related (STEM) programs.

“SUNY Poly is excited to play a key role judging and supporting the ‘Be the Change for Kids’ Innovation Awards to encourage increased student interest in areas such as the nanosciences which underpin New York State’s high-tech ecosystem,” said SUNY Poly Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Robert Geer. “SUNY Poly is proud to continue our partnership with the New York State School Boards Association to select and honor this year’s winners who are inspiring schools around the state to provide a learning experience that is targeted for career success.”

“The programs that we are recognizing illustrate how schools are providing students with a top notch education and preparing them for the high-tech jobs of tomorrow. Moreover, other school districts can easily adopt these programs with virtually no impact on their budgets —a win-win for students and the schools they attend,” said New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. Nearly 40 schools from across the state were nominated to win a “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Award. The three winning programs were selected by SUNY Poly faculty and staff members, who served as judges. Programs were chosen based on their ability to be easily reproduced in other school districts. Judges noted that the winning ideas also promote student curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and civic responsibility, and teach students the skills that they will need for the type of STEM-based careers that are becoming more prevalent in New York State. The winning districts, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Byron-Bergen Central School District for the “Inquiry-Based Learning Lab,” a program that reaches all K-6 students and provides facilitated instruction through a project-based learning approach. This course seeks STEM applications to real-world situations in a collaborative environment where every student is able to engineer, create, innovate, and share.
  • Freeport Public Schools for “Introducing Nanotechnology into the K-12 Science Curriculum,” which aims to prepare students for the 21 st century workforce by introducing nanotechnology into the K-12 science curriculum through nano-enabled lab activities where students can synthesize nanoparticles and watch their teacher and scientists characterize them at Brookhaven Laboratory through Internet-facilitated teleconferencing tools.
  • Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools for “The Outdoor Environmental Center at Woodmere Middle School,” which offers gardening areas, a greenhouse with various species of plants, aquaponics and hydroponic systems, a food composter, and a pond ecosystem where students are encouraged to think both creatively and critically as they gain experience gardening, maintaining/preserving ecosystems, and observing the growth of different plants and animals while participating in hands-on activities.


“As we celebrate five years of honoring innovative STEM-centered educational programs, we are inspired by the award-winning projects that underscore the fact that schools all around New York State are offering incredible programs to meet the demands of our complex society,” said NYSSBA President Susan Bergtraum. “By looking at challenges through the scientific lens, students gain practical problem solving skills that will prepare them well for their chosen profession.”

The winning districts will each receive $5,000, which is funded by SUNY Poly. As part of the annual announcement, students and staff from the three school districts were also able to take a tour of SUNY Poly’s $24 billion state-of-the-art Albany NanoTech Complex. SUNY Poly and NYSSBA created the “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Awards in 2012 to honor engaging, STEM-based local school programs that foster 21st Century career skills in emerging fields such as nanotechnology, which are driving New York State’s burgeoning high-tech economy.