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Geoff Bansen

"Meet the Expert": White Plains Teacher Alexandra Danz Brings in Science Experts

News 12 meterologist Geoff Bansen was invited to come to White Plains Highlands Middle School as part of the "Ask the Expert" series, organized by Earth Science teacher Alexandra Danz. The series was funded as a mini-grant through the Wipro Science Education Fellowship, of which Ms. Danz is a Fellow, and will bring in various experts in the sciences to introduce real-life STEM professions to her students. Also scheduled is a NASA solar ambassador. 

Balloon lift at NR

Summer STEAM Academy 2019 at Trinity School, New Rochelle

At first, the hot air balloons lifted just a few feet off the propane furnace in the far corner of the Trinity Elementary School grounds. But with a couple of tweaks, the students in the Summer STEAM Academy improved their design; and soon, and the colorful tissue-paper spheres lifted to the tree tops. "When something happens that you don't expect, try and do it a different way," said student Rejan Paracha, who finished fifth grade at Columbus Elementary School in June. There could hardly have been a better engineering lesson for the students who chose to be in the summer program honing their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. If things don't go as planned, that doesn't mean you failed. "You just found a way that didn't work on your way to finding out what does work," said Diane Delgado, who coordinates the five-week academy with fellow teacher Ann Marie Manganiello (both Wipro Science Education Fellows from Mercy College) The balloon lift Monday was a project of the two upper classes, with students who will enter fifth or sixth grade in September. In all, the program is teaching about 150 students from the Trinity, Columbus and Jefferson elementary schools and the Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center. The youngest are about to enter first grade. Their projects included solar-powered cars, rockets propelled by jolts of air and more. On a visit to the New Rochelle High School planetarium, they named constellations in the night sky. They took a nature walk and gathered treasures from the ground - chunks of wood, rocks, a sprig of leaves - that they built into habitat dioramas in cardboard boxes. They made friends with a mini-menagerie brought by a naturalist from The Nature of Things, an educational center in North Salem. The creatures included a red-tail boa, a bearded dragon and an Arizona blond tarantula. "My favorite was the chinchilla," said Nya Mejia, who is about to enter first grade at Trinity. "It's so cute!" The program is supported by Title I ESSA funds, a federal program that promotes literacy.  "The STEAM Academy is an effective springboard for enriching students' literary skills by connecting written materials with real, hands-on science and engineering and enhancing their critical thinking skills," said Tiara Reyes-Vega, Director of Instructional Support. The balloon lift was led by teachers Scott Misner and Ron Schoenherr (Wipro Science Education Fellows), who operated the small furnace. Trinity students Elisse Tomlinson, Sameen Choundhary and Ricardo Mendoza created one of the balloons that didn't lift very high on the first shot. When they widened the opening so that it could lift more easily off the furnace's frame, it became airborne.  "It just took off and it went super high," said Choundhary, who will enter sixth grade in September.

Carmen King

Carmen King appointed as Science Content Advisory Panel (SCAP) member for the 2019-2020 school year!

Wipro Science Education Fellow Carmen King, of the White Plains Public Schools, has been selected for SCAP.  The Science Content Advisory Panel (SCAP) serves to support part of the Board of Regents’ Reform Agenda. The panel will “advise the New York State Education Department (NYSED) on the revision and implementation of New York State Learning Standards, and on the rigor and design of P-12 curriculum and assessments.”

Members of the SCAP are NYS P-12 teachers, administrators, curriculum and assessment specialists, and higher education representatives. They are charged with the task of providing written and verbal feedback to the Department regarding suggested resources, policies, and implementation strategies. Panelists act as a liaison between NYSED and their school or organization. As ambassadors of the planning work, they are key to the dissemination of timely information to local district educators, parents, students, and other key stakeholders.


Leana Peltier

Leana Peltier, New York Wipro SEF Cohort I Fellow and current District Coordinator of Tarrytown, was awarded nearly $10,000 in university and private funding to conduct a vertical professional learning community (V-PLC) with teachers in her district. Eight teachers of grades kindergarten through twelfth are participating in this program during the 2018-2019 school year and meet once every three weeks. This is the second year of the program. The team’s work is focused around understanding and implementing inquiry strategies of teaching and learning and the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. Through this grant, Leana supports and facilitates a space that allows elementary, middle and high school science teachers to share and reflect on best science practices and provide content understanding in science. The teachers take turns facilitating demonstrations and activities and then work in groups of two (an upper grade teacher with a lower grade teacher) to co-plan their lessons. Another phase of this Science PLC is classroom observations. The elementary teachers visit a high school classroom and each high school teacher visits an elementary classroom. The observers take notes and then debrief the lesson at a meeting where the group follows a feedback protocol. When they have completed the program, they will earn in-service credits or a stipend for their participation. Leana is currently a doctoral student in Teachers College Columbia University’s Science Education program.

Trout in the  Classroom

Trout in the Classroom: New Rochelle Trinity School Teacher Terri Agravat

Terri Agravat is a fourth grade teacher at Trinity Elementary School in New Rochelle, where she also organizes the annual Fourth Grade STEM Fair. She is currently one of only 14 teachers in the Mercy College NSF Grant Preparing STEM Master Teacher Fellows, which aims to strengthen STEM instruction in the teacher's classrooms.  In the 2019/20 school year, Terri's class teamed with another fourth grade class for a program called, "Trout in the Classroom." In October, they received 100 brook trout eggs to raise in their 55-gallon classroom aquarium. During this eight-month period, students have helped to feed the trout and monitor water quality of the tank using water filtration devices they engineered, as well as learning about stream ecology, aquatic habitats, watershed protection, trout anatomy, and life cycle. This first-hand experience caring for this indicator species has helped to foster a sense of environmental stewardship in the students.  While visiting with an educator from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the students were able to make direct connections between the water quality of their classroom tank and the watershed streams and reservoirs where their drinking water comes from.  In April, they will release their trout into a state-approved stream. Throughout this field trip, students will observe a stream habitat up close, investigate the macro-invertebrates that trout eat in the wild, and explore a watershed forest on a nature hike. 

Member spotlight

Two Wipro Science Education Fellows from New Rochelle Public Schools - Claudia Gianserra and Scott Misner - continue Leadership in STEM!

IBM Scientists Teach IEYMS Students Engineering

The goal was to see how many breaths it took to push a small, wind-powered car with mint Lifesavers for wheels across six feet of classroom floor. Some of the designs in Claudia Gianserra's seventh-grade class at Isaac E. Young Middle School exceeded expectations.  "Nine feet in two breaths!" IBM scientist Brian P. Gaucher said as Team 3's design sailed easily over the masking tape finish line. "Nice job!"

The exercise - creating a vehicle from straws, paper, paper clips and the round hard candies - was one of several activities led by Gaucher and six other scientists from IBM on their 19th annual visit to IEYMS. 

"The lesson beautifully models the state's Next Generation Standards for science," said Gianserra. "We try to make a connection between what we're learning and real life. The goal is to design, test the design and improve the design."

Dr. Scott Misner brings Marine Biology Club down to Long Island Sound!

A group of 15 middle school students participated in a marine biology program at Isaac E. Young Middle School in New Rochelle NY, where students took 10 walking trips to the Long Island Sound to study and conduct research.  Students (1) measured water salinity, (2) turbidity, and (3) sketched wild life. They got to meet and work alongside Dr. Meghan Marrero of Mercy College, who wrote the textbook on Marine Science.

Member spotlight

Wipro Fellow Maria O'Brien highlighted in The Journal News

Maria O'Brien, science teacher at Park Avenue Elementary School in Port Chester, is part of the school district's achievement at being "Carbon Neutral Now", an initiative by the UN. Port Chester schools have put an emphasis on good environmental practices and have offset 1900 tons of carbon produced by the schools by contributing to green project in India, which the students choose. "You have to keep working at it" O'Brien said. It's become part of our global education, our science. I really want the kids to internalize it."

Member spotlight

Vincent Dougherty named as Co-Director of Staff Development Center, White Plains Public Schools

September 2019: Vincent Dougherty will work with the District Staff Development team and the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction to build a cadre of teacher leaders in the district and to organize and coordinate Professional Development courses for K-12 White Plains teachers.

Vincent is a White Plains High School Chemistry teacher, and a Wipro Science Education Fellow.