NEW YORK – April 18, 2013 – Continuing its tradition of offering the most advanced coursework to its middle and high school students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and other areas, nonprofit Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) has partnered with the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) to expand NYU-Poly’s prestigious Science of Smart Cities (SoSC) program to HEAF’s seventh and eighth graders. SoSC offers New York City public school students the opportunity to learn and apply advanced STEM knowledge and skills through hands-on instruction, innovative curriculum and field trips with the hope to prepare students to pursue STEM careers.
NYU Poly’s Center for K12 STEM Education builds on an existing academic relationship with HEAF, the leading supplemental education nonprofit in New York City that turns underserved New York City middle and high school students into high-achieving college graduates. Taught by the university’s undergrad students, NYU-Poly’s SoSC offers HEAF’s middle school students the opportunity to learn and understand how various urban systems, including water, waste management, energy and communications, function and how advances in technology and engineering can improve the world’s cities.
Applying what they have learned in these specialized classes, the students visited the downtown Brooklyn offices of Northrop Grumman, a leading American aerospace and defense technology company as well as an avid supporter of STEM education among K-12 students. HEAF students received instruction from Northrop Grumman engineers who covered a range of contemporary urban topics, such as traffic engineering and sustainability. In May, the program culminates in final projects for which students will construct their own model “smart city” using real-world materials and technologies.
Programs such as NYU-Poly’s SoSC that expose students to STEM fields early in their academic careers are more important than ever. The demand for STEM education is increasing both at the federal and local levels, as the U.S. competes to reassert its position as a global leader in the science and technology fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 2.1 million new jobs in STEM areas will exist by 2020. However, only 23 percent of college freshmen are entering STEM majors, and only a fraction of these students are African American and Latino. Both HEAF and NYU-Poly are recognized leaders in educating underserved communities.
“As President Obama recently stated in his State of the Union address and has reinforced through his Administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign, we need to better equip students for the demands of a high-tech economy,” said Ruth Rathblott, president and CEO of HEAF. “In order to do that, we must increase STEM literacy among students, especially those from underrepresented groups, and provide hands-on, real-world experiences that pique their intellectual curiosity and build their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Through our great partnership with NYU-Poly and our own curriculum, we are arming our students with highly advanced coursework and exposing them to a higher education experience early on, which will prepare them for college, career and a lifetime of learning.”
“We are delighted to partner with HEAF to provide our STEM curriculum to their students and introduce the field of engineering in the context of urban systems and sustainability,” said Ben Esner, director of the Center for K12 STEM Education at NYU-Poly. “NYU-Poly’s Science of Smart Cities program starts with something young people relate to—their immediate environment—and demonstrates how the tools of science and technology can shape the future they’d like to make happen.”
HEAF’s participation in NYU-Poly’s SoSC is just one example of how HEAF is exposing its students to college-level work and direct experience with higher education institutions. Last year, an NYU-Poly graduate student mentored HEAF’s high school students through the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition, during which HEAF students designed, built and programmed robots to compete against other high school teams. HEAF frequently partners with a number of other prestigious universities – such as Barnard College, where students have studied humanities including women’s history, and Touro College, where students have studied health education – to expose them to college-level work that is often not available to inner-city students.
For more than 20 years, HEAF has an unmatched track record of success with 100 percent of students graduating high school and 98 percent pursing higher education. This compares to 65 percent of all New York City students graduating high school and only 37 percent of African-American and Hispanic male youth completing high school in four years.
EDITOR’S NOTE: On May 18, 2013 at 12 p.m. ET, HEAF students will present their Science of Smart Cities projects at HEAF (2090 Adam Clayton Powell Junior Boulevard, New York, N.Y. 10027). Media are invited to attend.