By Colette Linton
SARATOGA SPRINGS—Interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies have a strong history in the county with STEM fairs, courses and competitions.
Now the best and brightest high school students have the opportunity through the New York State STEM Incentive Program to receive a full ride to college for those pursuing high-tech careers.
Students who are in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, who are also planning to major in a STEM field at SUNY or CUNY, and later work in a related STEM job in New York state for five years following college graduation, qualify for the program.
“This scholarship is a great reward for those students who chose to work incredibly hard in one of our many high school or Early College STEM pathways,” Dr. Joseph Greco, K-12 Director of Math, Science and Technology Integration at Saratoga Springs City School District wrote in an email to Saratoga TODAY.
However, he added, that students’ interest in STEM studies are planted and encouraged long before they reach high school.
Regarding whether he thought the scholarship will propel students into STEM fields and careers, he said: “At Saratoga, we believe that interest in STEM happens long before students even enter into the high school. While these incentives are a great reward for students who have taken on the challenge of a high school or Early College STEM pathway, it is our curriculum and instruction at the Primary and Intermediate grade levels that will have the greatest impact on interest in STEM.”
Saratoga Springs City School District’s Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering program has been taught at the high school since 1999 and was expanded to the middle school in 2000. Greco was hired in 2012 by the Board of Education to oversee the Math, Science and Technology Integration for the entire school district.
In addition, Greco wrote, that the school has added math coaches at the K-5 level, started Lego Robotics programs at different schools, started the Educating Young Engineers Saturday Program, extended the STEM Academy to the summer (through BOCES), and has recently competed in the middle and high school’s first VEX Robotics competition.
“Our rich STEM programing at the high school will continue to grow in 2014-2015 with the continued expansion of our PLTW Computer Engineering course offerings. Thanks to forward thinking leadership by the Board of Education and Superintendent Michael Piccirillo, Saratoga students have access to some of the most rigorous STEM programing that is offered in U.S. public education,” Greco said.
For one student anticipating her first semester of college in the fall, her story of STEM studies has resulted in a compromise of interests and began with a discovery.
In eighth grade, senior at Saratoga