On Using a Makerspace for STEM Education

The Maker Movement has proved itself to be a valuable component of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education ecosystem. The underlying philosophy of this movement involves open-ended creativity, development of critical thinking and intellectual flexibility, as well as instill confidence and a sense of accomplishment. The blueprints for building a makerspace are fairly straightforward, and usually incorporates a few key items like 3D printers, sewing machines, power tools, soldering gear, and maybe a laser cutter. But is it as simple as “build it and they will come?” To help answer the question of “So you have a makerspace, now what?” Jaymes Dec, middle school technology teacher and founder of NYC Makery, served up some valuable advice at our recent SOWING Circle Meetup (SOWING stands for Science Outreach Working to Inspire the Next Generation, and is a gathering for anyone who works as a STEM educator to share resources and brainstorm ideas). In his talk, Jaymes outlined a series of questions to help educators maximize the impact of making in STEM. What is a makerspace? According to Jaymes, a makerspace is simply a space where people use a set of shared tools for making things. There is usually a facilitator

For NYC High Schoolers, STEM Career Day Outranks Watching Netflix

"My friends are watching Netflix, I get to be here!" @NYCSchools #STEMmatters Career Day @RockefellerUniv #RockEdu pic.twitter.com/Cb9tkeUcJG — Science Outreach (@rockedu_) November 3, 2015 Over fifty NYC public high school students made the trek to The Rockefeller University for the Fourth Annual STEM Matters NYC Career Day on Tuesday, November 3. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) sponsors this unique opportunity to give high schoolers an inside peek into careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Students could register for both a morning and an afternoon session, choosing from a diverse list of 23 companies including the American Museum of Natural History, CVS Health, and Murray’s Cheese. The Rockefeller University Collaborative Research Center (CRC) Along with a representative from the NYC DOE, I greeted students as they arrived at Rockefeller’s 66th Street gates. We spoke with students about their interests and goals related to STEM. The students’ eyes danced with wonder as they walked up towards the glass facade of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC). “All my friends are watching Netflix, and I get to be here!” one student beamed. Wasting no time, students signed in, took off their backpacks, and separated into lab tour groups. Scientists

From Bench to Policy

by Avital Percher and Devon Collins Rockefeller attracts people who are passionate about science. It is therefore no surprise that many researchers here move from behind their workbenches to get involved in projects that bring science beyond York Avenue. From art projects to public outreach, these endeavors demonstrate an interest in establishing ties between scientific and public communities. One aspect of this public engagement is science diplomacy, which focuses on the use of diplomatic efforts for the furtherance of science and vice versa (a more detailed description was made in last year’s article1). While science diplomacy might seem an esoteric concept, best left to political science majors and bureaucracy lovers, we posit that the general scientific community's involvement in this field is critical. Unfortunately, among scientists, the importance of science diplomacy is often poorly appreciated and afforded little priority. For those who are less familiar with this topic, we strongly encourage taking the Science and Diplomacy class being taught on campus for the past few years (and being taught again this spring through the generosity of the Hurford Foundation). The class goes on for roughly six weeks, and brings in a wide variety of speakers from different fields and organizations.

Four Things I Learned by Starting a Science Podcast

By John Borghi Last week, I released the first official episode of Bold Signals- a podcast where I attempt to capture the human side of science. In each episode, I interview either a scientist about the lived experience of doing science or a non-scientist about how they experience science in their everyday life. If this sounds interesting, you can stream the podcast on SoundCloud or download it through iTunes. A new episode will come out every Wednesday this summer, with a second season starting sometime in the Fall. I started the podcast because I wanted to reveal the struggles and frustrations that exist between the lines of the results and discussion sections of scientific articles. But, even in the short time I've been working on Bold Signals, I've learned a whole lot about how science is produced, applied, and communicated. Here are the bullet points: 1. Making a podcast isn’t so difficult (except when it is) On some level, recording a podcast is as simple as plugging in some microphones and talking with some neat people for about an hour. Before I conducted the first interview, I spent a long time researching recording equipment, editing software, and hosting options. I interrogated experienced

RockU Friday: Painting with Light

by Meredith Wright Materials: Digital SLR (or any camera that allows for adjustment of exposure time) Tripod or sturdy surface A room that is very dark Flashlights or other materials that emit light Kids or kids at heart I watched with amusement as students filed into the Carson Family Auditorium at Rockefeller University. Their tiny heads bobbing barely above the chair backs, their toes not touching the floor. The excitement that these small students displayed, far exceeding their physical size. A few weeks ago, the Science Outreach Program (SOP) at Rockefeller hosted the final Friday night science session for children of Rockefeller employees. The program, dubbed RockU Fridays, caters to K-8 children and aims to teach about science through hands-on activities. This last session focused on the principles of bioluminescence--that is, when organisms give off light. The Lead Scientist of the SOP, Beth Waters, first took the children through an overview of bioluminescence. She explained that organisms create light for a variety of purposes, from attracting their prey to communicating with other organisms. Beth gave some examples of bioluminescent animals (I was surprised how well the children could identify the anglerfish, which made a cameo in “Finding Nemo”), and emphasized

Brain Awareness with Jelly Beans!

by Elizabeth Waters Every March for Brain Awareness Week (BAW), graduate students and post docs from the Rockefeller University, Weill-Cornell Medical College, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Tri-Institute reach out to elementary schools in New York City to educate young scientists about their brain and current research in neuroscience. BAW, under the Dana Foundation umbrella, sees our local scientists along with scientists around the world reaching out to their communities and engaging young, middle and old non-scientists in conversations about how the brain and nervous system work, how scientists study the brain, and how individuals can keep their brain healthy at any age. One brainy activity that is equally popular with students and Tri-Institute volunteers is the Jelly Bean Experiment. This activity asks the question: How do you recognize your favorite food? Students test their ability to use a single sense (sight, smell, taste) to identify a jelly bean flavor. Along the way, they generate hypotheses, gather data, and form conclusions -usually that they need more jelly beans- that lead to a greater understanding of how brain areas cooperate to recognize tasty foods and why food just wouldn’t be the same without the sensory nervous system. Further experimentation is

Creating a New Identity: Transitioning from Research to Outreach

The following series is based off The Rockefeller University Science Outreach Program’s presentation at the annual AAAS meeting, presented in San Jose, CA by Jeanne Garbarino, Elizabeth Waters, and Ali Cohen. The goals for this presentation and blog post series are to introduce science outreach, how to get started in science outreach, and how to leverage science outreach for professional development. Find your authentic voice when creating your new identity. Images: http://bit.ly/18hqFB7 & http://bit.ly/1vv70rs Written by Elizabeth Waters, PhD, Lead Scientist for The Rockefeller University Science Outreach Program You are s scientist who is transitioning into a career in science education, and you find the advertisement for your dream job: A PhD in education, science, technology, or math preferred; A track record in innovative and results-oriented leadership; Exceptional written and oral communications skills; Knowledge of education best practices from across various STEM disciplines; understanding of diverse pedagogical approaches to education, familiarity with learning styles and developmental stages; an ability to bring to bear a broad range of educational tools and methods; facility with creating innovative, personal, and high-touch educational experiences for diverse audiences; A network and working relationships in the STEM education sector; Specialization in one or more STEM domains:

My Graduate Career: How one student is using science outreach for professional development

The following series is based off The Rockefeller University Science Outreach Program’s presentation at the annual AAAS meeting, presented in San Jose, CA by Jeanne Garbarino, Elizabeth Waters, and Ali Cohen. The goals for this presentation and blog post series are to introduce science outreach, how to get started in science outreach, and how to leverage science outreach for professional development. WCMC student Ali Cohen participating in science outreach for career development Written by Ali Cohen, WCMC Graduate Student and Sackler Fellow  I discovered the flavor of science outreach as an undergraduate, when I taught elementary and middle school girls from underserved communities simple science lessons. Finding this type of experience was not obvious to me when I got to graduate school, and by the end of my first year, I really missed having the opportunity to spread my enthusiasm for science and debunk any preconceived notions of science being scary or inaccessible. To help fulfill this unmet need in my life, I went about trying to find ways to bring more of these opportunities to my graduate school community. In doing so, I’ve learned a few things about integrating science outreach into an academic setting, and discovered career

Doing Science Outreach: The Basics

The following series is based off The Rockefeller University Science Outreach Program’spresentation at the annual AAAS meeting, presented in San Jose, CA byJeanne Garbarino, Elizabeth Waters, and Ali Cohen. The goals for this presentation and blog post series are to introduce science outreach, how to get started in science outreach, and how to leverage science outreach for professional development.   Jeanne Garbarino working with NYC's Camp G.O.A.L.S. for Girls group Aligning yourself to make a productive impact is the preferred goal when it comes to engaging with non-scientific audiences. To do this, it is important to have a plan – think about what points you want to make, the type of language you should use, how the message will be delivered, etc… Putting yourself out there can be stressful, but a little prep work beforehand can take you a long way. Regardless of whether you are joining established science outreach activities, or are interested in creating new science outreach content, there are several points to keep in mind that will help keep you on track. Identify your message Science is BIG. Practically everything and everyone can be explained in some sort of scientific terms. But trying to present

So You Want To Do Science Outreach: Getting Started

The following series is based off The Rockefeller University Science Outreach Program’s presentation at the annual AAAS meeting, presented in San Jose, CA by Jeanne Garbarino, Elizabeth Waters, and Ali Cohen. The goals for this presentation and blog post series are to introduce science outreach, how to get started in science outreach, and how to leverage science outreach for professional development. Teaching kids about the importance of science safety Science Outreach can be accomplished at varying degrees of involvement or commitment. Whether you are more interested in one-off, plug-and-play type of experiences that suit a demanding work schedule, or are interested in a more regular commitment, science outreach experience adds value to your professional portfolio. The entry points for getting involved are probably more obvious than you think! Here is how you can find something that works for your schedule and goals: Figure Out What You Want to Get Out of It It is quite obvious that science outreach often benefits the recipients of the outreach effort. However, getting involved in science outreach does not have to be entirely altruistic. Because the concept of “science outreach” is incredibly broad, it is possible to construct a narrative of science outreach

Expanding Your Professional Marketability Through Science Outreach

The following series is based off The Rockefeller University Science Outreach Program's presentation at the annual AAAS meeting, presented in San Jose, CA by Jeanne Garbarino, Elizabeth Waters, and Ali Cohen. The goals for this presentation and blog post series are to introduce science outreach, how to get started in science outreach, and how to leverage science outreach for professional development. Letting kids experiment with circuits at Science Saturday, the annual family science festival at The Rockefeller University Gone are the days when getting an advanced degree in science or engineering likely meant a career as an academic researcher. Given the increasing number of science and engineering degrees awarded each year, coupled with a near stagnant academic job market, it is clear that developing transferable skills while training is paramount. However, because of a variety of reasons such as workload, mentor support, and/or availability of resources, it can sometimes be difficult to pursue professional interests outside of the lab. One relatively straightforward mechanism to gain soft skills is to participate in science outreach efforts. Science outreach, in basic terms, indicates the goal of raising awareness of science-related topics to an audience of non-scientists. This can be interpreted in many