After-School Program Builds Love Of Science
An after-school program is building a love of math and science through the city's architecture. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report as part of NY1 and parent company Time Warner Cable continue their partnership with Connect a Million Minds by highlighting education in these fields.
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Joyful squeals over an engineering lesson are rare sounds, especially in a public housing complex community center. But an after-school program called Bridges does just that, by using hands-on activities to make math fun and tying lessons to the urban environment, so the young scientists can relate to what they're learning.
“As budgets get cut, we see ourselves as providing a service that children need,” says Leonisa Ardizzoni of the Salvadori Center, which runs the program. “They need additional science, they need engineering, they need technology, and they need math. They're not getting it in schools, so we want to make sure they are getting it in after-school.”
Bridges is expanding from 10 sites across all five boroughs this year, to 25 sites by 2013.
The curriculum and instructors are from City College's Salvadori Center, and the students are 8 to12 year olds from Housing Authority developments.
At a site in East Harlem, one of the instructors was a student of the program just a few years ago.
“When [the now instructor] graduated, he gave me a Xeroxed-copy of his diploma as a gift, and then I looked at him and said, 'well would you like a job?'” Ardizzoni recalls. “And he's been teaching at our program for a year now and the kids love him and it’s wonderful to have someone who did Salvadori himself as a teenager to now be offering it to kids.”
In keeping with the program's name, students start by studying bridges – testing their hypotheses on the strength of circular columns with cardboard, paper, and weights. Next they study skyscrapers and then green design, capped by a project on how to make Housing Authority properties more environmentally friendly.
Eventually they study skate parks, monuments and memorials.
“You see the urban landscape, tunnels, bridges, skyscrapers, the building environment,” says instructor Martin Adames. “We are trying to teach the students the experience, the beauty, the wonder and the logic of architecture and engineering.”
“When I was with my dad, I said, ‘oh look at that bridge,’” says student Eileen Ortega of the program’s impact.
“I love it. And when my dad's here to pick me up early when the class is over, I don't really want to leave!” says fellow student Ruby Bonilla.
That’s what the educators and Housing Authority officials hope, that some students will stick with science, math and engineering, eventually designing bridges and skyscrapers made of more than paper and tape.