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Displaying items by tag: STEM

Thursday, 14 March 2019 12:49

Rockin' Robotics

Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.

SCHUYLERVILLE - Schuylerville students represented their independent robotics team at the regional FIRST Robotics Competition held at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute March 9 and 10.

FIRST, which stands for, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology was founded in 1989 with a mission to encourage students to enter STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) related fields. At the beginning of each season, the teams register to join the competitions where they are given a task, which the robot they design will be required to accomplish. The teams spend about six weeks programming, constructing, and marketing their design until their deadline, when they will bag and seal their creations until the day of the competitions.

The Schuylerville robotics team, the Steel Stallions began in 2011 by its founders Kevin and Betty Gifford. Kevin Gifford, the head mentor turned the reigns over to Todd Kehley, who has a nine-year Naval background working with nuclear power and, has a vested interest in the program.

“My son, when he was going to school at Schuylerville, decided that he wanted to get involved with the team…I decided that it was something I wanted to do with my son."

For students looking for a space where they can be a part of a team, many seek out sports such as football or hockey. But for some that void can be filled by joining another cultivating team activity; the robotics team.
“A lot of the kids that are involved in this program end up being kids that don’t typically end up with an interest in sports or anything like that,” said Kehley. “It does put them in that team situation they wouldn’t normally have that unless they were into sports.”
Each student has a different interest and different strengths regarding building, programming or promotions. The students are primarily driving their seasons and work, while Kehley oversees the processes and any upgrades.
This year, the Steel Stallions placed 32, out of 36 teams including teams from New Jersey, Brazil, and Canada. According to Kehley, their placement does not attest to their capabilities or how well they did. This year at the competition, some last-minute changes proved to be very costly in regard to their placement.
Unlike many other teams, Schuylerville’s robotics team is not embedded in the school extracurriculars beyond the recruitment of students and home school students in the district. Their practice facility is in the basement of the American Legion in Schuylerville.
“We operate independently of the school. We do have that school connection as far as recruiting…as far as facilities go, or event funding, we don’t really get anything from the school,” said Kehley.
In order to compete in this competition, the Steel Stallions had to raise $5,000. Without school funding, the team and their mentor earn funds to run the program through fundraisers such as their annual Spaghetti Dinner, which will be hosted at Schuylerville Elementary on April 12.
For more information on Schuylerville robotics, or how to get involved, you can visit their Facebook page, FRCTEAM4508.
Published in Sports

[Photo provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Dr. Joseph Greco, K-12 Director of Math, Science and Technology Integration in the Saratoga Springs City School District, has been named the 2017-2018 ACT College and Career Readiness Champion for New York State. The award recognizes individuals who are making a positive impact in their communities through their efforts to advance college and career readiness. The ACT Council selected Dr. Greco from a strong applicant pool due to his involvement with K-12 STEM education, P-TECH and the Early College Career Academy, the expansion of Project Lead the Way in the elementary and middle levels, as well the partnerships he continues to create between the school and the surrounding community.  Dr. Greco’s focus has been on creating equity of outcomes, so all students can access, and be successful in, rigorous STEM programming leading to college and career readiness.

“While the spotlight is currently on our STEM programming, we should be proud of our entire district’s work towards creating learning experiences that strengthen our students’ ability to communicate, collaborate, and persevere in their efforts to solve unstructured problems. That is truly why we are being recognized as New York’s K-12 Champion for College and Career Readiness,” said Dr. Joseph Greco, K-12 Director of Math, Science, and Technology Integration.

The ACT College and Career Readiness Champions are individuals across the country who support ACT’s mission of education and workplace success. They are high school seniors, K-12, postsecondary, and workforce professionals, who have demonstrated exemplary behavior and contributions in support of college and career readiness in their respective communities. 

Published in Education

BALLSTON SPA — Elementary students from Ballston Spa recently showed off their scientific skills at the Ballston Spa Central School District’s fourth annual Elementary Science and Engineering Fair at the Milton Terrace/Wood Road Elementary School Cafeteria.  Participants included over 50 students from the kindergarten through fifthgrade from the four different local elementary schools. Students experimented with chemistry, biology and physics among other areas of science and engineering in their projects. Many interesting subjects were studied, including using fruits and vegetables to produce electricity and the properties of Ooblek. Ballston Spa High School students from National Honor Society, Robotics and the International Baccalaureate Program were also at the fair reviewing the younger students’ projects.  Rather than a traditional competition-based event, the science and engineering fair awards each individual student for their abilities to explain different aspects of their experiments. The event is a collaboration of the high school and the elementary schools working together to get students interested in science and engineering.   The Science and Engineering Fair is part of the Ballston Spa Central School District’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiative, along with Super Science Saturday in January and a Code-a-Thon in the fall. Additional information is available by contacting Ballston Spa K-12 Science Coordinator Diane Irwin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or at the High School by calling 518-8847150. Please visit the Elementary Science and Engineering Fair website at www.bscsd.org/Page/990 for more details on this year’s event.

Published in Education
Thursday, 08 February 2018 14:19

Division Street Elementary School PTA STEM Expo

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Monday, Feb. 5, the Division Street Elementary School held their 6th Annual STEM Expo.

“The STEM Expo is an educational STEM opportunity for families to engage in hands-on activities with the goal of engaging students in STEM and getting them excited about doing STEM jobs for a living someday. We invite the entire community from public and private schools as they are a part of our larger learning community! I am very proud of the fact that this event has inspired other schools in the Saratoga and surrounding districts to implement similar educational STEM nights/days for their students and families,” said PTA President, Connie Woytowich.

Before the PTA started their STEM Expo, they would coordinate with other parent volunteers to provide feedback to students on their scientific experiments. With the main parent volunteer leaving the school upon their child’s graduation, the PTA decided to “change things up a bit and engage more families by way of providing activities and opportunities for learning,” said Woytowich.

“The event was a success! We had at least 100 families show up to the event. One of our parents said, ‘this is my favorite event of the school year,’” Woytowich exclaimed.

'Fourteen exhibits were present for the families to explore and enjoy.

Published in Education
Thursday, 24 August 2017 12:52


SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Tuesday, Aug. 22 and Wednesday, Aug. 23, educators from across the Capital District gathered for a two-day program and became students again to participate in hands-on activities and curriculum lessons focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.).

The event, SEMI Foundation’s High Tech U, is in its tenth year in conjunction with New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and was held at the union’s headquarters in Latham. The curriculum for this event is designed for local classrooms in the new school year.

Since the inception of the event, more than 600 New York State educators have partaken and nearly 40 teachers did this week alone. A reception to celebrate the tenth year took place Wednesday at NYSUT. There were industry instructors from Applied Materials, KLA-Tencor and Global Foundries, all of whom were supporters of the program this year.

“This has been an incredibly fruitful partnership,” NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta said.

The goal of the event was to educate the educators.

“Teachers never stop learning and NYSUT is proud to offer this well-regarded, proven professional development opportunity to so many of our members,” Pallotta continued.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union that was formed in 1960 and now has over 600,000 members.

The SEMI Foundation has been around since 2001 and their mission is, “a commitment to helping high school students gain a better understanding of how Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are used to solve ‘real world problems,’” according to the organization’s website.

Since its inception, SEMI Foundation has reached over 6,900 students in 12 states and nine countries.

SEMI High Tech U’s program features workshops that are activity-based and taught by tech professionals. The activities include lighting up the room with an experiment facilitated by an engineer; making your own wafer with a manufacturing engineer; launching hacky sacks with quality engineers to see the importance of statistics; becoming a human calculator; and flexing your teamwork skills to solve a real-world problem, among other diverse S.T.E.M. activities.

Published in Education
Thursday, 06 July 2017 14:39

Ballston Spa Teacher Reaches for the Stars

BALLSTON SPA – Ankie Meuwissen, a science teacher from Ballston Spa High School, recently completed a special program that will help her to bring the stars to her students.

From June 15-19, Meuwissen took part in the Honeywell Educators in Space Academy (HESA) program in Huntsville, Ala. The program gives educators from across the country a chance to learn more about space and space-related technologies, so that they can ideally bring back the things they learned to share with their students. Meuwissen mentioned that there were also activities focused on incorporated engineering design, which she said would be “much needed from our graduates.”

The HESA program was created in 2004 by the Honeywell Company in conjunction with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center with the intention of helping math and science teachers become more effective STEM instructors. This year, Meuwissen was among over 200 other educators from 45 states and 33 countries. Over the years, 2,776 instructors have taken part in HESA, from 52 U.S. states and territories and 62 countries, with official estimates putting the numbers of students impacted by the program through their instructors at over 3 million.

At HESA, Meuwissen went through around 45 hours of classroom and laboratory instruction. Some of the activities that she took part in included a jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, land and water survival training, interactive flight dynamics programs, and more. Some of the activities that stood out to Meuwissen the most were mock water landing drills and a simulation of gravity on the Moon, which is about 1/6 the gravity found on Earth. Attendees were also able to hear from important pioneers in the realm of space travel, including space flight advocate Ed Buckbee, “Rocket Boys” author Homer Hickam, and astronaut Clayton Anderson.

Meuwissen said that she first heard about the program from “a friend of a friend,” and thought that it sounded both interesting and like something that would have meaningful benefits for her students.

“I learned sometime in the spring,” Meuwissen said about getting the opportunity to attend HESA. “I was really excited! What a wonderful opportunity!”

Meuwissen’s students were initially excited to hear about her involvement with the program, however, she said that the now-previous year’s students did not really see any benefit from it. Next year’s class will be the one to experience the significant changes in her curriculum.

“Currently I have plans to alter my bottle rocket project and incorporate better engineering practices into it,” Meuwissen said. “I also want to create a lesson around thermal heat shields into my physics class, and challenge students to keep an egg-stronaut safe as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.”

Meuwissen has been with the Ballston Spa school district for five years and currently teaches astronomy, physics, and earth science.

Photos provided.

Published in Education

SARATOGA COUNTY – Two local robotics teams stole the show at a recent regional competition, paving the way for their trips to the national level in April.

Robotics club teams from the Ballston Spa and Schuylerville school districts competed at the NY Tech Valley FIRST Robotics competition, a regional division of the FIRST Robotics Competition, an international youth event designed to give student practical engineering experience.  Each school put in strong work at the competition, which ran from March 16-18 at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with Ballston Spa receiving the prestigious Chairman’s Award, and Schuylerville finishing in second place and putting up the highest score of the weekend during the quarterfinals, 450 points.  Both teams will be competing at the national championships in St. Louis, MO, which will run from April 26-29.

At the regional competition, teams were challenged to design and build robots that could receive and place gears, fire wiffle balls, and climb five feet.  Each challenge would net the teams a certain amount of points, and it was up to the teams which actions they designed their machines to specialize in.  Ballston Spa chose to design a robot that could do all three actions, with club advisor and coach Darrel Ackroyd being particularly proud of the machines ability to place gears by itself.

We can receive gears from the human player station and place the gear on the peg via an active placement of the gear,” Ackroyd said.  “Most teams have a passive gear system where the pilot has to pull the gear out of the robot.”

Schuylerville, on the other hands, chose to focus on gear-placing and climbing, as they determined that shooting wiffle balls would be too difficult to design for, and would not yield as many point as the other challenges.

Every team competing in the FIRST Robotics competition was informed of the challenges they would face in January, and then had six weeks to design and build the robot they would take to the competition.  After that, their machine had to be submitted, or “bagged and tagged,” so that they could not utilize it again before the competition weekend.  Both teams, however, built practice robots at the same time as their competition robots, so that they could continue practicing after the six week time limit. 

“Our robot performed incredibly and we won quarterfinals,” Ackroyd said about his team’s performance.  “We came up short in semi finals, but our alliance with Cambridge and Troy was a great one to be apart of in eliminations.”

“I couldn’t have ask for anymore,” said Mark Belden, advisor and coach for the Schuylerville team.  “We’re not a big team, but we went right out there.  Our team, our mentors, our alliance partners… it went as well as I could’ve expected.”

This will be Ballston Spa’s third time competing at the national level, and their second time in a row, having made it to the finals at RIT last year.  This will also be Schuylerville’s second year in a row competing at nationals.  Neither team has won at that level, but they are hopeful heading into the event. 

We are making changes to our climber and gear mechanism for our competition this weekend at Rockland County,” Ackroyd said.  “I feel with these changes we should be a top-performing robot at the competition”

“We’re feeling really good,” Belden said.  “Some other teams we competed against have already gotten in touch with us with suggestions.”

Schuylerville is currently raising money to help fund their trip to St. Louis.  Belden estimates that it will cost around $20,000 to transport the team.  They will be hosting a spaghetti dinner and raffle to help raise funds on March 31 in the elementary school cafeteria, from 5-8 p.m.  Donations can also be made directly at www.gofundme.com/schuylerville-robotics-team-4508.

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — With the approval of Druthers Brewing Company’s request to build a second bar area and rooftop garden space and the Caffé Lena’s request to revamp the back side of its building with a spruced up patio area complete with a commissioned statue and a two-story building for entrance to the second floor café, Saratoga Springs is quickly becoming more and more of an artsy destination place. 

Published in News