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Skating, reading, extracting DNA – students engage in Science Week ’15

A Buffalo student performs an experiment during a past science night organized by the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership. ISEP is among partners participating in Science Week. Photo: Buffalo Public Schools

Buffalo Sabres and libraries join UB and partners in expanded STEM programs for K–12 students

By Suzanne Chamberlain

Release Date: March 12, 2015

“Research universities have a vital role to play in preparing and educating the students who will be tomorrow’s leaders — both in our classrooms on campus and within the primary and secondary schools in the communities we serve.”
Satish K. Tripathi, UB President

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The second city-wide Science Week, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields to future employment in Western New York’s burgeoning life sciences and advanced manufacturing industries, will take place March 14-20.

Designed for students from kindergarten through high school, Science Week will include hands-on workshops, guest speakers and teacher development programs.

“By increasing STEM education in the Buffalo Schools, we are providing our youth with the knowledge and resources necessary to succeed,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “STEM jobs are our city’s future. It’s our shared responsibility to make sure Buffalo students are ready to fill them. As a proud partner of Science Week 2015, I’m confident that by actively driving interest and awareness about careers in the STEM industry, we will increase the number of students who graduate from high school not just ready for college — but interested in careers that are in high demand.”

Buffalo Public Schools Interim Superintendent Donald A. Ogilvie said Science Week will bring practicing professionals to students, with hands-on approaches that reinforce a love of science, technology, engineering and math. “Through our partners in the local academic and scientific communities, state-of-the-art science labs in our schools, and awareness of STEM careers, Science Week will provide inspiration to Buffalo Public School students, who will in turn make a significant impact on Buffalo’s medical corridor and beyond,” he said.

Spearheading the event are the University at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, Erie Community College, the State University of New York (SUNY), the city of Buffalo and the Buffalo Public Schools.

“Science Week in Buffalo is an exhilarating experience for participating students and a unique opportunity for local school, community, and higher education leaders to come together and see, first-hand, the collective impact we have on improving STEM education and engaging kids in STEM learning from cradle to career,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “All of SUNY and each of our Western New York campuses are proud to partner in this week’s many events.”

Other partners include the Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Project Flight. Corporate partners are Praxair, Thermo Fisher Scientific, EverFi and Bio-Rad Laboratories.

UB and Buffalo Public Schools events kick off Science Week on March 14

Science Week activities kick off on Saturday, March 14, with two events: the ISEP Science Summit at the Buffalo Museum of Science and Tech Savvy for Girls on UB’s North Campus. As part of the science summit, students from ISEP — the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools — will demonstrate their science projects. Funded by a $10 million National Science Foundation grant, ISEP is a coalition of partners, led by UB, whose goal is to transform how science is taught.

Currently in 12 Buffalo schools, ISEP is helping to fill classrooms with hands-on activities that make science exciting for kids, as well as providing professional development for teachers. Tech Savvy Girls will bring middle school girls to UB to explore STEM careers through workshops run by scientists, physicians and engineers from UB and other institutions and industries in Western New York.

“Research universities have a vital role to play in preparing and educating the students who will be tomorrow’s leaders — both in our classrooms on campus and within the primary and secondary schools in the communities we serve,” UB President Satish K. Tripathi said.

“Science Week is a wonderful example of what is possible when our region’s educators and scientists work together to create new opportunities for our area’s students,” he added. “This program builds in exciting ways on the collaborative work we are already doing through the highly successful ISEP — giving young students a valuable opportunity to explore how research and discovery can be applied to challenges in today’s society, and providing hands-on opportunities to explore the potential careers open to them in the 21st century innovation economy.”

Reading list available at public libraries

A new partner this year, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has assembled a select list of available STEM and science books for parents who want to read to their children or others looking to brush up on the topics.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting week,” said Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski. “Having a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math extends beyond the classroom, it enables to us navigate our increasingly technological world and become an informed citizenry.”

Buffalo State College and ECC presidents offer their support

Buffalo State College President Katherine Conway-Turner said the college is proud of its continuous involvement with, and strong commitment to, the Buffalo Public Schools STEM Experience.

“Of the many collaborations between the college, the schools and other public and private partners, none has the potential and promise to impact and shape the future of our children more than this one,” Conway-Turner said. “Partnerships like the STEM Experience allow us to provide outstanding science education to our kindergarten through grade 12 students, preparing them to move on to higher education and to pursue the STEM careers that will be of increasing importance in the 21st century."

“Erie Community College is proud to stand with the region’s local representation and the Buffalo Public Schools to promote the importance of STEM education during Science Week,” said ECC President Jack Quinn. “Our communities achieve their potential when we work together, toward common goals. The goal of presenting career-focused opportunities to students in the field of science, technology, engineering and math is a fantastic goal to have, and we look forward to working together and maximizing these opportunities for students not only through next week, but for years to come.”

Other Science Week highlights include:

·         Reading Science Aloud with Sabretooth at Southside Elementary, March 16. As seventh- and eighth-grade science teachers engage in professional development programs, special guests will visit kindergarten through third-grade classrooms to read aloud selected science books to the students. Mascot celebrities Reada Book, Curious George and Sabretooth will check in with the students and readers.

·         Genome Day, March 17. Led by renowned UB researcher and entrepreneur Norma Nowak, more than 400 seventh- and eighth-graders will extract DNA and learn more about how their genetic makeup can guide their future health choices. SUNY Provost Alexander N. Cartwright will kick off the program, to be followed by small-group interactive learning.

·         Science Exploration Day (SED), March 18. Roughly 300 BPS sophomores and juniors will join hundreds of other area students for the annual event on UB’s North Campus. For more than 35 years, SED organizers have been encouraging high school students to study STEM fields in college by whetting their appetites with demonstrations and workshops.

·         Science and Me: K-2 at the Museum and The Science of Hockey, March 19. Roughly 300 BPS and charter school students will visit Curious George at the Buffalo Museum of Science to learn more about science. The Science of Hockey: About 400 BPS sixth- and eighth-graders will visit First Niagara Center to learn about the science behind the sport. “The Buffalo Sabres are very pleased to join other community leaders in supporting Science Week and STEM education,” said Cliff Benson, chief development officer for the Sabres. “We look forward to engaging students through an innovative program that highlights some of the many areas where hockey and science intersect.”

·         Science Week Closing Ceremony at Hutch Tech, March 20. The closing ceremony will celebrate the connections between education and career. Entrepreneurs will share their stories, hoping to inspire high school juniors who will face many professional and personal decisions in upcoming months.

SUNY Trustee Eunice Lewin, a key organizer of Science Week, first envisioned the event as a way to leverage the region’s educational resources and better prepare students for career success in Western New York. “We all win when events and programs like Science Week encourage more Buffalo students to consider careers in science and technology,” Lewin said.

The timing of Science Week this year enabled organizers to take greater advantage of existing programs like SED and Tech Savvy, she said. Specially designed NFTA bus shelter signs share the message, encouraging students to discover their future through STEM. Monthly guest speakers at the schools, professional development for teachers and curriculum incorporating information from the Sabres program helped to integrate STEM concepts and build increased awareness throughout the year.

“The addition of the libraries as partners and the SUNY Read Aloud Month program make it a communitywide initiative that includes opportunities for younger children and their parents,” Lewin said.

For the full list of events, visit the Science Week website: www.research.buffalo.edu/ovpr/stemexperience.

Media Contact Information

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ub-news@buffalo.edu