OPENING DOORS FOR FUTURE SCIENTISTS: QUEENS COLLEGE HOSTS
ANNUAL 9TH AND 10TH GRADE SCIENCE FAIR FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
--April 29 Event Sponsored by College’s Science Teacher Careers Program--
FLUSHING, NEW YORK, April 22, 2004 --“As the late New York State Senator Patrick Moynihan once said, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but not to their own facts. This fair is all about celebrating New York City high school students who have done their research and now know the facts,” says Physics Professor Mark G. Miksic, director of the Science Teacher Careers Program at Queens College.
The program is holding its fourth annual Investigative Science Symposium/Fair (ISS/Fair), which exhibits and celebrates investigative science projects of 9th and 10th graders in the borough. Two hundred students and teachers from 20 Queens high schools are expected to attend.
The fair takes place in the college’s Science Building on Thursday, April 29, following an opening ceremony at 9 am in room 230 (lower level) of the Rosenthal Library on the Queens College campus, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing.
A collaboration of a committee composed of representatives from Queens College and Queens public high schools, the ISS/Fair begins when each participating Queens high school holds an initial ISS/Fair. Up to five students from each school with projects judged to have ‘exceeded standards’ will participate in the Queens College event. On April 29 these student finalists will submit a research report, display a summary of their work and, with their teachers and family members, tour the college research laboratories in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Experimental Psychology. They will also attend an awards luncheon.
“Like Thomas Edison, Mark Miksic and our committee have channeled the electricity in New York City high school students, opening doors to help them gain access to a world from which they very easily could be shut out,” says Norman Cohn, assistant principal for science at Franklin K. Lane High School and co-organizer of the event.
All student participants will receive a Certificate of Excellence on April 29 honoring them for their research work. “We want to give students at this formative age a chance to do scientific investigation without worrying about competition,” says Cohn. Students whose work is judged outstanding will be awarded the opportunity for future research with Queens College-sponsored research mentors or be awarded a place in the Queens College Summer Science Camp, an intensive two-week science experience for high school students.
The subjects of investigation may reflect the students’ urban environment, such as qualities of air, water, space, traffic, and housing; behavior of plants, animals, and birds; simple objects, such as liquids, pendula, springs, the interactions of light with lenses, mirrors, in solids, liquids or gases; or the transfer of heat energy, such as solar energy and energy efficiencies in the home, the city, or transportation.
The projects are based on National Science Education Standards and are expected to be small-scale but real ‘hands-on, minds-on’ investigations utilizing Science Inquiry (SI) methodology, which encourages students to investigate a question that requires research, collaboration, and detailed recording of their procedures, data, and thoughts.
This process mirrors that of modern science research methodology and is recommended by the New York State Department of Education as a powerful way of involving students in the learning of science.
“We want to get high school students involved in the sciences and using critical thinking skills early,” says Miksic. “That will enable them to learn and understand science more deeply and help ensure that they acquire the analytical tools needed to approach problems of all kinds.”
The Science Teacher Careers (STC) Program, sponsored by the Queens College’s Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in collaboration with its Division of Education, recruits candidates for science teaching, an area of critical shortage in New York City schools. Most important, the program provides a comprehensive science education support system leading to students’ certification and ultimate employment as science teachers in New York City. One of the critical goals of STC is to help participants develop skills needed to incorporate science inquiry and critical thinking into the science curriculum.
“Many teachers have had little experience in investigative science, or science inquiry, as described in the National Science Education Standards,” says Miksic. Some STC participants are career changers from fields as diverse as nursing, advertising, meteorology, and nutrition. The program also encourages women and minority applicants who are traditionally underrepresented in science.
Cohn has seen first-hand the results of Miksic’s work. “Mark and other Queens College faculty have been providing support in science to 4,000 students at Franklin Lane,” says Cohn. “Mark conducts staff development at the school and runs these fairs not for pay or reward, but because he sees the great benefits to young learners.”
For more information on the ISS/Fair or on the Science Teacher Careers Program, visit www.qc.cuny.edu/STC or call 718-997-3398.