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BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ Photos by Jaime DeJesus
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/ Photos by Jaime DeJesus
Isabelle Macchia, Charles Ramos, Kalifa Peters, and Katrina Sumtsova show off their project at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Call them whiz kids.

Middle school students, many from Brooklyn, gathered at NYU Tandon School of Engineering on Friday, July 29 to show off their science projects and creations during the school’s free Science of Smart Cities program.

The program was designed at the Center for K12 STEM Education and is a sequenced curriculum that addresses energy, transportation, urban structure and wireless communications. The elements incorporated included engineering, technology and science.

“Through this program, middle school students are taught by our own graduate and undergraduate students who have studied this curriculum,” said Ben Esner, director of the Center for K12 STEM Education.  “We also have four high school interns as teaching assistants in each classroom and they do hands-on demonstrations and experiments, and use the real tech that you see here, like micro-controllers and light sensors, that engineers and technologists and scientists are now using in cities to make them smart.”

Over the course of the program, students learned to create and build models that display how to reduce traffic congestion using remote control cars, full neighborhoods made from various materials that can improve one’s way of life, and the kinds of sensor technologies that you would again find in the real world.

“These are applications we get to demonstrate for kids and part what we’re about is showing kids that things like math and science are not abstractions,” Esner said. “They have applications in the real world that have social meaning that can improve lives, make cities more resilient and sustainable,  save energy, and get you around faster.”

This summer, the program taught over 1,000 students at the middle and high school level. In addition, around  20 teachers were trained also in the curriculum.

Despite most students enjoying summer vacations by going to the mall or movies, these students had a blast continuing their education and doing something they love

“The program is really beneficial,” said 13-year-old Ines Bali. “Counselors and peers are very supportive and you get to come to a place and do the thing that you like surrounded by people that like the same thing that you do, and it’s a really interesting and immersive place. You can learn a wide variety of things. I love what they’re doing here with providing education to public schools and middle school students.”

“I love building stuff, but I also like working with electricity and programming stuff to run by itself,” added student Temur Sharipov.

Esner said he was proud of the students’ efforts. “They come here every day early in the morning and stay late into the afternoon,” he said. “They work hard to learn things during the summer which is not what every kid does. I’m also very proud of the gender and ethnic diversity. Tech and engineering are for everyone and we want to make sure everyone gets an equal opportunity to succeed in these fields.”

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