STEM is the future: Top programs unlock kids’ exponential potential

STEM — science,  technology, engineering and math — is at the center of the Mayor Bloomberg’s  efforts to diversify the city’s economy following the financial crash of  2008.


Fourth-graders Gabriela Franco (far left) and Briana Luna are rapt as teacher John Hagan Brown brings science concepts to life at Public School 15 in the Bronx. Photos by Ben Chapman

Ben Chapman/New York Daily  News

Fourth-graders Gabriela Franco (left) and Briana Luna learn science concepts  at Public School 15 in the Bronx.

A class of 28 first-graders at New Explorations Into Science, Technology and  Math School in Manhattan stood next to their desks Thursday morning and  karate-chopped the air as they counted to 100 by 10s.

“Ten!” Punch!

“Twenty!” Punch!

“Thirty!” Punch!

The gifted kids in the class attacked their math lessons with enthusiasm,  taking a quiz of 40 additional questions in one minute before tackling the  counting drill.

NEST teacher Jennifer Rosenfeld said stoking the kids’ manic energy by  getting them moving during math lessons keeps their interest in the subject  high.

“Kids do better in math when they move around,” said Rosenfeld. “It warms up  their brains and they perform better on tests. It keeps them excited.”

These children are barely old enough to tie their own shoes, but city  elementary school kids are foot soldiers in the high-tech STEM revolution.

STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — is at the center of the  Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to diversify the city’s economy following the  financial crash of 2008.

It’s also the basis of a nationwide push to transform education, from the  primary grades to graduate school, away from the humanities and toward the  sciences.

New York City’s public schools are leading the way — and elementary students  are where the transformation begins, said the Education Department’s chief  academic officer, Josh Thomases.

“The early grades lay the groundwork for the future,” said Thomases. “It’s  best to get students comfortable with science and math from a young age.”

At all levels, city schools are beefing up their offerings in math and  science.

The city has created 22 new technical education high schools, with seven  more coming next year. Officials also plan to transform 20 additional high  schools and middle schools into specialized STEM academies.

And at the elementary school level, officials have rolled out hundreds of  STEM programs at elementary schools, including dozens where laptops have gone  out for free.

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