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Visiting a Top Research University

Friday, June 12, 2015
Students work on building an automated watering system for plants out of discarded computer parts.
Students work on building an automated watering system
for plants out of discarded computer parts. 

The Harlem Academy middle school recently traveled to Troy, N.Y., to spend three days on campus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The annual visit, called Collaboration for Innovation, is intended to inspire students in the STEM disciplines.

Students have the opportunity to work with professors, visit the Hirsch Observatory, stay overnight in college dorms, and hear current Rensselaer students discuss why they choose to study STEM. Grades five and six learned about physics, manufacturing, and robotics, and the physics magic show is a highlight for them each year. Grades seven and eight were divided in to groups by topic: architecture, civil engineering, and science and technology studies. Students meet in these workshop groups over the course of the visit, working together to complete a hands-on project.

The science and technology studies workshop focused on e-waste and urban gardening. The groups were tasked with using discarded CD-ROM drives and programmable circuitry to build automated watering systems for plants.

The visit culminated with the seventh and eighth grade groups sharing what they had accomplished and learned during the three days by presenting their projects to their classmates, teachers, parents, and professors.

Many thanks to Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Cynthia Smith, and everyone at Rensselaer who made this visit possible. Thanks, also, to the  Harlem Academy parent volunteers who helped chaperone the trip. 

Additional thanks to Con Edison for their support of Harlem Academy's science program.