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nySci: Bringing science to remote students

June 24, 2014

After zipping across to CYNRIC in Syracuse I dropped into the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY. Also known as NYSCI, the museum was established as part of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair near the banks of the East River. Finding the museum is easy, just keep an eye out for the Mercury Atlas-D and Gemini Titan II Rockets poking above the surrounding Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Maker space at New York Hall of Science

Maker space at New York Hall of Science

On entry to the museum you are greeted with a new tinkering area where kids can build, create and manipulate all sorts of objects to solve engineering problems or simply to have fun! 3d printing is available as well as a new digital maker studio where visitors can create movie productions and web media. This ‘maker movement’ is the hot thing in STEM teaching right now – the White House hosted a major Maker Fair only 2 weeks ago and schools and museums followed suit in a national day. The museum has a variety of areas:

Mathematica: dedicated to showing concrete examples of mathematics

Molecules and Health: highlighting biochemistry in our bodies

Seeing the Light: featuring optical illusions, light, sounds and shadows

Rocket park mini golf

Search for Life Beyond Earth: Detailing possibilities of life in a variety of extra terrestrial habitats

…and more

Dedicated area on health at nySci

Dedicated area on health at NYSCI

Whilst at NYSCI I caught up with Anthony Negron the Manager of Digital Programming who has championed the use of video conferencing since 2006. All sorts of traditional VC programs are presented from liquid nitrogen demonstrations to climate change. The museum also has a VGo, a roving robot with embedded technology which allows a remote student to join in on onsite holiday camps and workshops. In addition to this nySci works with senior citizens in multi-point connections using Blackboard Collaborate and Safari Montage Live. A major focus is connecting with bed bound hospital patients and teens not attending formal school – here the students can be introduced to lab apparatus, safety and experiments using available apps on Apple iTunes or Google Play so that they can visit formal schools at a later date to complete compulsory lab work successfully.

VGo Telepresence Robot at New York Hall of Science

VGo Telepresence Robot at New York Hall of Science

It was great to speak with Anthony, the museum has a refreshing approach whereby workshops are created quickly without over thinking or overproducing a given video conference program. Creativity and interactivity is highly valued and the measure of a program is placed with the level of engagement that the student reports. It was inspiring to talk about the interactions experienced between students in Kenya and New Jersey, comparing cultures and schooling.

Presenting Light and Shadow at nySci

Presenting Light and Shadow at nySci

On visiting the New York Hall of Science my next stop will be Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, an aircraft carrier moored in Manhattan which houses the Space Shuttle Enterprise, a A-12 Blackbird, the Concord as well as a large number of exhibits showing how it was like to live and work on a naval vessel. Very much looking forward to this visit!

Until next time,

Ben

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