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2015 Iscol Lecture

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Workforce of the Future
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reshma Saujani
Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code

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Student hydroponics lab is the only one in NYC

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Jennifer Tiffany, Roger Turgeon, and Jennifer Sirangelo

In the basement of the Food and Finance High School on W. 50th Street in Manhattan, tilapia swim in large, circular tanks. Under the guidance of Cornell Cooperative Extension applied scientist and extension associate Philson Warner, students help raise these and other varieties of fish that go on to be used in school lunches, distributed to green markets, and donated to hunger relief programs. By working in the  Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Lab, students fulfill their state-mandated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lab requirements.

Recently Jennifer Sirangelo, National 4-H Council president, toured the labs to see how 4-H students are excelling in STEM projects. The tour was led by students, but the BCTR's Jennifer Tiffany, interim executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension - NYC and the school's principle Roger Turgeon we on hand. The labs were originally created as a part of the school's culinary program. The labs also include a hydroponics facility a few floors up. There waste from the fish is used in a nutrient-rich, soil-free culture to raise vegetables. The hydroponics process also serves to clean the water, which is then returned to the aquaponics lab to raise more fish, creating a symbiotic loop.







Video: Fish Farm Coop, Students Get Along Swimmingly in Hell's Kitchen - NY 1

Big Apple's Only Hydroponic Student Lab Showcased - Cornell Chronicle
Food and Finance High School Impacts Students and 4-H Alum in STEM - 4-H Today

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BCTR in the Fall 2013 issue of Human Ecology Magazine

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hemag_fall2013The cover of this fall's issue of Human Ecology Magazine features 4-H's efforts to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. The college is host to various STEM outreach programs, many specifically for girls. New York State 4-H Leader, Valerie Adams-Bass is quoted,

This generation uses technology every day with cellphones and computers, and it's very intuitive for them, but they don't always explore it in a comprehensive way. Our 4-H STEM programs help them to better understand how technology is relevant to their lives and their future careers.

Other BCTR connections in this issue:


Human Ecology Magazine, Fall 2013

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4-H Youth “Give STEM a Chance” at Cornell

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Making LN2 ice cream

Making LN2 ice cream

The 4-H Finger Lakes District and Cornell’s New York State 4-H Youth Development Office sponsored its first 4-H Science Sampler Day on Saturday, November 9, 2013 on Cornell campus. Sixty-eight 4-H members in grades 6 – 8 from across New York State enjoyed an opportunity to sample STEM-related workshops taught by graduate and undergraduate students and outreach educators. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) topics included Natural Enemies, Reptile Behavior, Geocaching, Stream Ecology, Tsunamis in Asia, Spiders, Polymer Creation, Cornstarch Monsters, Primitive Plants, and LN2 Ice Cream.

The program, offered as an experiential opportunity to introduce 4-H youth to STEM topics, also served as a both a college-campus experience and a way to introduce youth to the exciting annual 4-H Career Explorations Conference for 8th – 12th graders that is held on campus each summer (the 2014 conference will be held July 1-3).

Participating youth were able to experience geocaching with a GPS unit, make ice cream with liquid nitrogen, get up close and friendly with snakes, engage in a biomedical engineering case study of the common diaper, and manipulate their own polymer creation, just to name a few of STEM activities that engaged youth in learning by doing.

In addition to having fun, participants reported: learning new things about science and careers in science, gaining an increased interest in going to college, wanting to revisit Cornell, and intending to work harder in school science classes. They also expressed that the combination of 4-H and Cornell provided them a unique opportunity for both learning science content and learning about careers.

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Smart Clothing, Smart Girls teaches 4-H youth about fiber science

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An FSAD undergrad leads course students in yarn bombing a railing.

This summer a group of 24 middle school girls participated in a week-long course, Smart Clothing, Smart Girls: Engineering via Apparel Design, which was conceived by faculty, staff, and students in the College of Human Ecology's Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design (FSAD).

From the Cornell Chronicle article on the course:

Cornell researchers led the girls, from 4-H programs in Livingston, Ontario and Wyoming counties and the Syracuse chapter of Girls Inc., through four modules: advanced materials, wearable electronics, design technology and the engineering design process. The girls participated in hands-on laboratory and design activities, such as fiber burn tests, sewing and draping, and working with circuits and switches. They also observed such state-of-the-art equipment as a laser cutter, thermal manikin and 3-D body scanner – and worked alongside Cornell and industry experts, mostly women, (including a teleconference with a spacesuit designer at NASA).

As the co-administrator of the state 4-H youth program, the BCTR has a direct connection to this course. But other characteristics of this program align with the BCTR's mission and outreach plans:  STEM education, engaging teens, and National Science Foundation funding. Smart Clothing, Smart Girls organizers are working to develop a curriculum and teaching materials to distribute to youth programs around the country.

Program teaches girls engineering via apparel design - Cornell Chronicle

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Schaff to administer NASA education program in NY state

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Nancy Schaff (NY 4-H STEM Program Specialist) has received a subcontract with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, MA. This is a sub-award to a NASA Education & Public Outreach grant for a program called "Here, There, and Everywhere"(HTE). According the the HTE web site:

Here, There, and Everywhere (HTE) consists of a series of exhibitions, posters, and supporting hands-on activities that utilize analogies in the teaching of science, engineering, and technology (STEM) to provide multi-generational and family-friendly content in both English and Spanish to small community centers, libraries, under-resourced small science centers. The purpose of the program is to connect cross-cutting science content (in Earth and planetary sciences and astrophysics) with everyday phenomena, helping to demonstrate the universality of physical laws and the connection between our everyday world and the universe as a whole to non-experts. The program utilizes multimodal content delivery (physical exhibits and handouts, interpretive stations, facilitated activities for educators as well as online materials) hosted by public science locations.

Schaff will be piloting the HTE dissemination of posters and hands-on activities in informal 4-H educational settings in New York state. She will coordinate a NASA Here, There, and Everywhere booth in the Youth Building at at the NY State Fair with 4-H teen leaders teaching hands-on activities to the fair-going public. Schaff will train others to use the HTE materials in a variety of settings and will collect data about the results of implementation.

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NY 4-H shows off robotics in Albany and Binghamton

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President Skorton taking the Otsego County team's robot for a spin

National 4-H has developed a comprehensive robotics program to inspire young people and develop an early interest in robotics engineering and technology. 4-H Robotics is delivered through 4-H clubs, camps, school enrichment, and after-school programs nationwide.

New York 4-H has received a three-year grant enabling the program to engage Roger Ort (Schuyler County CCE) as a part-time 4-H state robotics specialist. This spring Ort is offering workshops for county 4-H educators and volunteers to build capacity to offer robotics project to the youngest 4-H members (grades K-3). New York 4-H also offeres Robotics Challenge events at the New York State Fair and has many 4-H FIRST Robotics teams (who attend competitive events), and robotics projects in after-school programs, camps, and clubs. Two recent events in Albany and Binghamton are examples of New York state 4-H Robotics programs in action.

In Albany, at events commemorating 150th anniversary of Cornell's state land-grant institution status, the Otsego County 4-H FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) team demonstrated a robot constructed for the 2013 challenge, Ultimate Ascent. The FRC team let Cornell President David Skorton take their robot for a spin in the halls of the state capital. Every year FRC teams are presented with a new challenge for which they construct a robot. Ultimate Ascent required FRC teams to design and build a robot that would score discs on pyramid-shaped goals, and then climb the goal structure at the end of the game. Last year the Otsego County FRC team of high school students traveled to St. Louis for the national FIRST competition.

Broome County 4-H campers making robots

The Broome County 4-H Robotics Camp was held during the recent school spring break. Campers visited the da Vinci® Robotic Surgery Program at Lourdes Hospital to see how surgeons use state-of-the-art robotics to guide less invasive surgery and laparoscopy. They also attended a demonstration of underwater robots by the Broome County Water Rescue and Dive Team, who use the robots during police and emergency response team water rescues and investigations. The underwater robots were in action at the Binghamton YMCA pool. Campers also broke into groups and constructed robots themselves, using their creations to move around spaces and then pick up objects.


Coverage of Broome County 4-H Robotics events:

Robotics Camp for spring break keeps local kids wired - Video

4-H Reboot: From farm animals to robots - Video


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NY events for 4-H National Youth Science Day draw students and media attention

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Eco-Bot Challenge in Johnson City

October 10, 2012, millions of young people across the nation became scientists for the day during the fifth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). NYSD brought together youth, volunteers, and educators from the nation's 111 land-grant colleges and universities to simultaneously complete the National Science Experiment.

This year's experiment, the 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge, had students cleaning up a simulated oil spill using scrubber robots they fashioned using toothbrush heads, watch batteries, and a vibrating pager motor. They used these mini, vibrating scrub brushes to scour a mat printed with a map and covered with rice and birdseed, to simulate the spill.

After Wednesday's session teachers were given a curriculum from Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4-H, which they can bring back to their classrooms and continue these activities with their students.

New York State 4-H is housed in the Bronfenbrenner Center. Valerie Adams-Bass is NY State 4-H Leader.


Students in Brooklyn creating their Eco-Bots. Brooklyn photos by Dr. Jackie Davis-Manigaulte.

NY 1 video coverage of a NYSD event in Brooklyn

Fox News 40 in Binghamton's video coverage of a Broome County NYSD event




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