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DDC’s STEAM Coastal Resiliency Curriculum Grows Interest in Technical Career Fields, Study Finds

DDC: Shoshana Khan,

(Long Island City – December 30, 2019) A study of 47 middle school students from the Lower Eastside Girls Club (LESGC) and Hostos Community College Proyecto Access Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) who studied the Coastal Resiliency curriculum developed by the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) STEAM education initiative has found that following the STEAM programming the students were more interested in studying engineering and architecture in college and were more confident in their ability to do math and science.


Students that participated in the Coastal Resiliency program from DDC STEAM visited the Bronx Zoo to learn about the importance of ‘Building for Animals’ and how species that are becoming extinct can be saved through recreated natural habitats

Students learned about Coastal Resiliency during a six-week program over the summer. The curriculum teaches students about emerging technologies that could effectively combat the effects of climate change on shoreline areas. The program was designed to induce students to communicate effectively, think critically and become global problem solvers.

At the beginning of the program students were given a pre-questionnaire with 21 statements asking them to rank from 1 – 4 their affinity toward and perceived capability in STEAM career fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Architecture and Math). At the end of the program, students were asked to complete the same questionnaire with five additional questions for students to share their favorite aspects of the program, their learnings and recommendations for future programming. After completing the program, students demonstrated:

  • A 22% increase in the desire to study engineering or architecture in college;
  • A 22% increase in being more hands-on to build and measure things;
  • A 18% decrease in the perception that engineering and architecture fields are not for them;
  • A 15% decrease in the thought of not liking math and science;
  • A 14% decrease in the belief that math is hard.

The study was conducted by Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, a science educator and founder of Storefront Science, who holds an Ed.D. in International Educational Development with a specialization in Peace Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.M in Science Education and a B.A. in Biology.

“DDC’s Coastal Resiliency curricula is exposing middle school students to climate change, a real issue that must be addressed today and everyday going forward,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “Our goal is to educate students about resiliency and how important it is to build our projects based on the needs of the environment through hands-on learning.”

“The Coastal Resiliency curricula was created to educate students about how the City has begun to develop ways to protect the shoreline after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area,” said DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis. “The program also raises awareness of the effects that global climate change and extreme weather can have on coastal areas. Students learned about the importance of building resilient structures, sustainable infrastructure and the methods used to protect local communities from harsh weather.”

“Proyecto Access STEP students now have a better understanding of the world of the built environment and are equipped to take their first steps towards a STEM related career,” said Hostos Community College President David Gómez. “The students who participated in this summer program were engaged and excited to be learning about STEAM concepts. It was nothing short of inspiring.”

“Seeing these students thrive is what keeps me going,” said Proyecto Access Director Moise Koffi. “I believe in the potential of each student that comes through our Proyecto Access STEP at Hostos, sometimes that is all a student needs, encouragement. And that alone can set a student journey onward and that is why what we do is so important. We prepare students to be strong and able for themselves.”

This past June, DDC’s STEAM education initiative collaborated with Dr. Ardizzone to introduce educators from 20 public middle schools to the Coastal Resiliency curriculum during a two-day professional development program, which DDC holds to instruct teachers on how to implement the curriculum in their classrooms. In those training sessions, middle school teachers performed many of the Young Engineers activities, including creating model buildings, infrastructure structures, homes, bridges, public areas and streetscapes to demonstrate design and construction methods that can better withstand climate change and rising sea levels.

DDC’s STEAM education initiative was established to increase interest among students in technical career fields and works with Title I public schools in every borough. Other successful DDC STEAM programs include the ACE Mentor Program, Town & Gown and the High School Summer Internship Program, a six-week paid internship program for students interested in pursuing careers in architecture, engineering, building trades, public administration, business administration or information technology.

Overall, DDC STEAM has engaged with over 3,600 students in various programs since its inception in 2014. 


About the NYC Department of Design and Construction

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit