Saturday STEM Academy

Step Up to STEM!

Mercy University's Saturday STEM Academy gives K-12 students an opportunity to learn hands-on STEM concepts and skills in a collaborative environment with distinguished STEM educators. All students also experience college-readiness programming and interdisciplinary content.

Learn more about upcoming events and explore course descriptions below.

Download a copy of our brochure

Contact us with any questions: Mary Ushay -

Register for the Fall Session

Saturday STEM Academy

The K-12 Saturday STEM Academy is back in-person on the Mercy Dobbs Ferry campus! 

October 28, November 4, 11 and 18 from 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

 $300/person for four sessions.  Includes snack.

Register Today | Deadline is October 23

Saturday STEM Academy Brochure

Download a copy of the Saturday STEM Academy brochure for Fall 2023

Course Descriptions

Animal Engineers (Grades 1 - 2)

Did you know that animals are nature’s engineers? We will focus on beavers as first-class environmental engineers. We will build 3D beavers, research and design beaver lodges and dams with different building materials, and compare and contrast animal and human engineers. Come be a clever beaver with us!

Instructor: Melody Castiglia

You Makey Makey Me Want to Invent! (Grades 3 - 4)

Imagine creating a working gummy bear piano or a vegetable guitar! In this class, students will collaborate to invent new ways to interact with a Makey Makey circuit board and household materials. Students will leave with knowledge about electronics, game controllers, and how hardware and software interact.

Instructor: Nancy Tavarez

Survivor (Grades 5 - 6)

You’re in the wild. But you’re not you. You’ve “animorphed” into a creature that must survive in the biome (habitat) in which you find yourself. How will you do it? What physical and behavioral adaptations will you need? How will you change to survive and thrive? Come take this wild adventure where you will learn about animal adaptations and use that information to create your own “animorph” – will it be a survivor? Or a thriver?

Instructor: Carmen King

The Wonders of DNA (Grades 7 - 8)

Take a deep dive into the possibilities of DNA. Students will start with understanding the function and structure of DNA through hands-on activities to understand its importance in all living things. They will engage in a DNA extraction activity where they can collect their own DNA. Finally, through the science of genetic engineering, they will use their knowledge to engage in crime scene investigations and create an organism that will thrive in a given environment.

Instructor: Ana Oliveira Gomes

Discovering Brain Development (Grades 9 - 12)

Prerequisite Course: Living Environment

For 4 weeks, students will be on-duty neuroscientists! Their patients will be live chick embryos. They will monitor the brain development of the embryos in Mercy’s research-grade college laboratory. Through hands-on exploration and collaboration, students will learn the intricate relation¬ships within the nervous system and make comparisons to other animals.

Instructor: Mercy University Professor Dr. Renee Haskew-Layton

Meet the Saturday STEM Academy Instructors

Kiowa Garcia currently teaches 7th and 8th grade General Science and Living Environment at The Charter School of Educational Excellence in Yonkers, New York. While studying Health Sciences as an undergraduate at Mercy University, Kiowa assisted as Lead Surgical Assistant to the Chief of Dermatologic & Cosmetic Surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Since then, she has earned her Master's in Adolescent Education with a concentration in Biology at Mercy University, focusing her pedagogy on Project-Based Inquiry and STEM education. She is currently a member of the Northeast Region of the Association for Science Teacher Education, and is currently perusing her interest in science curriculum development.

Aimee Ferguson attended Manhattanville University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education and Literacy. Currently she teaches 4th grade students math and science at Jefferson Elementary School in New Rochelle. She was in Cohort 2 of the Wipro Science Education Fellowship at Mercy University and has presented posters at several STEM conferences. 

Aimee plays an active role in the school community and continues to seek professional development opportunities. She plans to continue to foster and develop children’s curiosity in the area of science and encouraging them to be good Earth Citizens.

Keira Lam has been teaching for 20 years in the New York City Department of Education.  She started her career at Bayside High School and is now at Queens High School of Teaching for the last 13 years. She is involved in many different aspects of the school community, including revamping current labs to incorporate more hands-on activity that will increase student engagement. Keira currently teaches 9th grade Living Environment (biology) and 12th Grade Marine Science STEM class.  She has a Bachelor's degree in Biology/Life Science Education and a Master's degree in Earth Science Education. 

Carmen King is an educator and mentor for over 25 years, and currently teaches 5th Grade at Mamaroneck Avenue School in White Plains.  She was in the first cohort of Mercy University's Wipro Science Education Fellows, and continues to do science education leadership projects in her district .  With one of her Wipro grants, she set up a sustainable garden at school with 2nd and 5th graders.  She has a special interest in literacy and poetry.  

Ann Marie Manganiello is a 2nd grade teacher at Trinity Elementary School in New Rochelle, specializing in a Co-Teaching Inclusion Model.  She has also run elementary STEAM programs during the summer.  Ann Marie has a BA in Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Special Education.  She has also completed the Wipro Science Education Fellowship at Mercy University.

Patricia Sutton has been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years with experiences in Medical Surgical Nursing, Critical Care, Community Health and software applications. She earned her Associate Degree in Nursing from Westchester Community College in 1988, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of New Rochelle in 1994 and a Masters in Nursing Education from Mercy University in 2007. She is currently completing the dissertation phase of her Ed.D focusing on the impact of transformational leadership theory on leadership readiness among undergraduate nursing students. Patricia began teaching at the Dorothea Hopfer School of Nursing and was the assistant director of the program starting in 2011 and continued in that position through the transition to the Montefiore School of Nursing, until 2017 when she joined the Mercy faculty.

While attending Mercy University Joseph Thomas won numerous awards for his work and was able to intern at Blue Sky Studios and credited on “Horton Hears a Who”. A few years after he was awarded a full scholarship for his work to attend the Vancouver Film School, sponsored by HP, VFS, and Computer Graphics World magazine. He specializes in conceptual character and creature design from 2d to 3d for the feature film and video game industry. Proficient in all the most used software packages in the industry he spreads his passion, enthusiasm, and knowledge onto his students in an intense full throttle fashion. Whether it’s 3D modeling, lighting, texturing or animation he is always on top of the tools being developed.

Joseph is currently teaching at the Center for the Digital Arts, Peekskill at Westchester Community College and Mercy University, White Plains and Manhattan campuses, also CG generalist freelancer and CG consultant for companies such as the History Channel.

Patricia McCue currently teaches 7th Grade Science at Isaac E. Young Middle School in New Rochelle and coaches their Science Olympiad team. She has a BA in Chemistry from College of the Holy Cross and a Masters in Teaching from Pace University. She completed her Mercy University/Wipro Science Education Fellowship in 2017 and has taught workshops in coding to 7th grade girls on behalf of Mercy's Center for STEM Education.  

Kathleen Kenney-Riley is an Associate Professor in the Nursing Program in the Mercy University School of Health and Natural Sciences. She is also a practicing Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore. Her area of research includes focusing on chronic illnesses in children and families. She is currently beginning a study looking at the cognitive impact of Lupus on teens.

Lorine Crawford is a NYS certified teacher of Mathematics 7-12, Elementary K-6 and Special Education. She started her teaching career in the New York City schools in 1997. She taught middle school mathematics in White Plains Middle School from 1997-2014. She is a mathematician who believes in helping young learners understand mathematical concepts and how to use them to solve problems. Lorine wants all children to believe in the possibility of success and persevere through the rigor of the new standards. Since 2014, Lorine has been raising her four children in Monroe, NY where she has been volunteering her time in her children’s classes in the Monroe Woodbury School district as well as tutoring mathematics. In 2018 she supported the Center of STEM Education at Mercy University by assisting in the training of Yonkers School teachers to help incorporate mathematics into the science curriculum.

Deborah Mumford is currently a kindergarten teacher in the Edgemont School District.  She is also the staff director and educator for The Nature of Things, a company which provides science curriculum and N-6 instruction featuring live animals in an environmental program to metropolitan new york school districts.  Deborah is a graduate school Adjunct Professor in the Early Childhood Education at Mercy University.

Renée Haskew-Layton, PhD, is a neuroscientist; her research focuses on cell signaling pathways involved in protecting the brain from oxidative stress. She is currently Assistant Professor and Biology Program Head at Mercy University. Dr. Haskew-Layton received her doctoral degree in Neuroscience in 2005 from Albany Medical College; she later completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell Burke Medical Research Institute in White Plains NY in 2011. Dr. Haskew-Layton is passionate about training the next generation of scientists using a chick embryo model to study the brain.

Professor Kessler has worked at major record companies including The Verve Music Group and Atlantic Lava, and as an engineer for platinum selling artists, including John Mayer, McCoy Tyner, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Buffett, The Black Crowes, Jewel, Joss Stone, and P Diddy, to name just a few. His work as a television post-production engineer has earned him three Emmy awards. He is a producer, performer, composer, writer, and educator. As a musician, he has studied extensively on guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, and piano.

Karla Purcell is a 4th grade teacher at John F. Kennedy Magnet School in Port Chester, where she has been teaching elementary grades since 2001.  She was in the first Cohort of the Mercy University Wipro Science Education Fellowship, and runs workshops in Family Learning Opportunities and Research in Engineering and Science (FLORES) in her district.  With her 4th grade colleagues, Karla teaches an after-school gardening project for 3rd and 4th graders that incorporates science, literacy, nutrition and community outreach.

Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn has taught at Columbus Elementary School in New Rochelle for 20+ years. As the school's K-5 science facilitator she has worked with students and teachers to develop a school-wide, integrated, hands-on approach to learning called STR2EAMing into LEARNing which culminates with the K-5 Convention. Creating authentic opportunities for design thinking she has mentored ExploraVision teams as well as a top 20 nationwide finisher in a NASA Engineering Design Challenge. For two summers she has conducted research at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory's Tree Ring Laboratory as part of Columbia University's Summer Research Program. Taking the learning abroad, she has spent two summers in Asia working with STEM teachers in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. She was recently honored with the Anton Banko Excellence in Elementary Educator Award by the State Science Association. Elizabeth continues to challenge herself and her students to think creatively as they solve problems and create innovative solutions to real-world situations.

Chuck Sincerbeaux has been an elementary school teacher in the White Plains Public Schools for over 25 years.  He has used computer technology in his classroom for most of his career and has led many technology workshops.  He completed his two-year Mercy University/Wipro Science Education Fellowship in 2016 and was a recent recipient of a Wipro Mini-Grant for The Equity Project, which allowed him to give extra mentoring and supplies for his students to excel at their school STEM fair. Chuck is a former NSF Fellow in Mathematics.

Marcia Manzueta is a bilingual special education teacher at Edison Elementary School in Port Chester. She has a BA in Elementary Education from Iona College and Masters in Literacy from the College of New Rochelle.  She completed the two-year Mercy University/Wipro Science Education Fellowship in 2017 and has partnered with Mercy University to do bilingual family science nights in Port Chester.

Dr.  Mages is an Associate Professor of Childhood Education at Mercy University. Her research focuses on the effect of educational strategies and contexts on language, cognitive, and social development. Dr. Mages also writes and performs personal narratives. If you would like to know more about her work as a storyteller, please visit her storytelling site: Wendy Mages: Storyteller.